GDC 2014: Phil Spencer: Microsoft Have “Been Playing With” Virtual Reality “For Quite A While”

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Dan Webb

One of the big things at this year’s GDC in San Francisco has been Sony’s Project Morpheus, the latest high profile virtual reality device to be announced since Oculus Rift. Head of Microsoft Studios, Phil Spencer in his fireside chat session at GDC today, revealed Microsoft’s vision and stance on virtual reality and surmises what job it will play in the living room.

“VR is cool tech and one of the things at Microsoft is that we have this huge Microsoft research organization which is pretty important to us as platform holder in helping us think about might be next – it’s where Kinect came from, it’s where the voice system came from, it’s where Drivatars. There’s a bunch of stuff in our games that have been birthed out of the Microsoft research team,” noted Spencer when quizzed upon VR.

“Looking at things like Oculus and Morpheus, when I think about VR and the uses of it in gaming, I think there’s a real there there. I don’t think it’s going to be that every game requires me to put goggles on my face in order to me to go play it.

“I think there are some user scenarios which are simply: ‘I live in a dorm room or an apartment and I don’t have room for a 60” plasma, is there something I can put on my face that gives me a virtual 60” plasma.” That isn’t really VR, but the technology can obviously support that.

“And then there are other really immersive games where actually being able to completely both audio and visually immerse a user in an experience can be really compelling.

“Will it ever become mainstream? You see this bifurcation, some people are playing simple touch games where you feel like you’re controlling the death star, and then other people are putting goggles on their face where they feel like 24/7 they live in a world.”

“The big hump will be in the middle, or even closer to the casual side in terms of usage,” finished Spencer, “But I think the technology is really interesting, and it’s definitely something we’ve been playing with for quite a while.”

If you want to read our sister site's (which is basically ours, of course) opinions on our recent hands-on with Project Morpheus, head on over.

 

Comments
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  • I wonder if IllumiRoom will ever come through. Last I heard of it, it was "too expensive to be released." http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/09/11/microsoft-is-developing-3d-projection-technology-that-could-turn-your-room-into-a-game/
  • Sony has a product and Microsoft has an idea. Not the best retort, MS.
  • Microsoft just need to pass on this, 3D(TVs) didn't catch on, motion controls (wiimote) didn't catch on, full body control (Kinect) didn't catch on, VR will not catch on. Why do these people not realise that as gamers we are just happy with a controller in our hands and good games on the TV.
  • @2 Sony has a prototype not a product, those are two very different things and Sony are famous for announcing things too early (look at the PS4 announcement, they didn't even have a display model or even knew what it was going to look like).
  • @#3 Yeah, who needs innovation right? If YOU are perfectly happy with a controller in your hands then that's great for YOU, but then why would you care if Microsoft came up with something that gives gamers (and non-gamers) more choice on how to experience entertainment? It's not like they are going to make it mandatory to play games with VR. Personally I'm happy with a controller in my hands as well but I can easily see the appeal of VR and am looking forward on trying games (and films) out once it becomes affordable.
  • OT: I really don't think this will be a big thing. For one thing no one I know is even slightly excited about it and to be honest it's not really VR, not in its true meaning. Show me something I can put onto my head that transports my mind into a virtual world and I'll buy it.
  • @4 - And Bill Gates LICENSED IBM an operating system he didn't have yet, either. “Looking at things like Oculus and Morpheus, when I think about VR and the uses of it in gaming, I think there’s a real there there. I don’t think it’s going to be that every game requires me to put goggles on my face in order to me to go play it." "I think there's a real there there?" Geez, spit it out dude. And just like not EVERY game is gonna require a kinect, you won't sell a new console without one...
  • @5 There's nothing innovative about it. It's been around for over 40 years and the actual idea of it has been around for over 150 years.
  • Not something that interests me to he honest. Just like 3D tv doesn't interest me. I'll stick with what I got thanks!
  • I would love a Virtual Reality MMO RPG.
  • @2 Microsoft have a lot going on sony just showed it. look up IllumiRoom they had that fully on display and it was pretty goddamn impressive for the people that seen it about a year ago
  • it will just be another thing to try push gaming forward and it won't work. like I realise how advanced the kinect is and its every clever but seriously I dont really use it apart from for auto signing in. this is just the same cool idea but wont really do much for the gaming industry. if most of us are brutally honest we all would like to try it but would prefer the tried and tested way of playing games and thats with a controller.
  • Who wants to make a bet that Microsoft will put a VR headset and Kinect 3.0 in with the next gen xbox and charge $250 more than Sony's new system? lol
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  • Sword art online VR goggles, make it happen Microsoft.
  • Maybe you people should go look up Oculus Rift on youtube. They're doing some AMAZING stuff.
  • i think VR will catch on in some form like other things have, like digital downloads instead of physical media, touch screen phones instead of physical buttons. sure they all started off with their flaws but now its a thing that a lot of people like and prefer. like I said I think VR will catch in but other ways and not gaming, kinda like my kinect, it has all these features but i only use it for the voice commands
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  • I personally love the idea and would like to own one eventually. I see it as perfect viewing option when playing first person games, be it shooters or adventure. If only they could come up with some sort of glove to go along with it, controller would not be needed and that would be as immerse as it can get, I think these days. Only worry is cost of such device...
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