Even with the announcement of the HoloLens mixed reality (MR) head-mounted display (HMD) earlier in the year, Microsoft can’t seem to escape the question of its own virtual reality (VR) device. In the past Xbox boss Phil Spencer has suggested that, even with HoloLens in the works, the Xbox One console could see its own kit. That much remains true, although it appears that Microsoft may already be working on VR software even without a kit.
In an interview with Edge, as reported by GamesRadar+, Spencer has suggested both that the Xbox One may one day see its own VR kit and that a VR version of Microsoft’s Minecraft franchise might be in the works. “I look at VR as an interesting space,” he said. “It’s certainly different to the mixed reality we do with HoloLens, but there’s nothing that precludes us from doing something in the VR space.
“As you say, there are partners out there, and while these guys are PC-based today, if we want to do something with Xbox… Right now, it’s just been about technologies and things that I think we need to do on Xbox One to make the experience better, and that’s where our focus has been. And I don’t think VR is a now thing. I’m not saying it’s five years from now, but it’s not really a now now thing. Valve’s got their VR thing, which I think is great; Samsung has Gear VR, too. Funnily enough, they are very interested in Minecraft and how it could work in those VR spaces. So even from a content perspective there are a lot of conversations about VR, and I think it’s a very interesting tech for us to watch on the console side as well as the PC side.”
Spencer’s comments about Minecraft likely refer back to November 2014 when Oculus VR’s John Carmack, currently working on Gear VR in partnership with Samsung, sought after members of developer Mojang to talk about a possible port for the device. Minecraft creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson famously cancelled plans for a free VR version of the title when it was announced that Facebook was to acquire Oculus VR last year. Since then, Microsoft has purchased both Minecraft and Mojang, with Persson leaving the company. Could Microsoft and Samsung have reached an agreement for Minecraft VR?
Either way, Microsoft have put the Minecraft IP to use demonstrating the potential for videogames on HoloLens, though it remains to be seen if these demos will turn into official videogames. VRFocus will continue to follow Microsoft’s work in VR, reporting back with the latest updates.