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Phil Spencer on bringing VR, paid alphas to Xbox One

And on Microsoft's launch parity clause: "We've taken feedback and changed course before."

Microsoft's Phil Spencer has spoken about the possibility of bringing VR and paid alphas to Xbox One during a talk at this year's GDC.

Speaking to Gamasutra's editor-in-chief Kris Graft on-stage, Spencer said that Microsoft is looking into how it can bring experiences like DayZ and Rust - games which are unfinished yet still attract a huge userbase - to the Xbox One.

"I think there's an area of evolution that, as platform holders, we'll go through this generation in helping developers fund their games socially," Spencer said. "You don't really have that in place on console as you do in some other places. I think that in order for great diverse content to exist, it's going to be important that us as platform holders think about how we can allow gamers invest in things that they want to see built, so that developers have the funds to bring those things to market. Paid alphas I look at as one of those things."

Spencer also addressed the launch parity clause that has become a concern, with developers like Vlambeer speaking out about the issue.

"I think there are a few policies out there between the different platforms that create some difficulties for independent developers - obviously we only own our own policies, and the one about parity is a real concern that I hear about from people. As the platform holder, we want to make sure the best games come to our platform."

"The platform parity is about making sure that when people buy an Xbox they know that the best independent games that are out there that we're helping bring to our platform are state of the art. But we've heard a tonne of feedback, and we've taken feedback and changed course before. Today, I'd say this is an ongoing conversation with developers."

Finally, Spencer spoke on the hot topic of this year's show, the virtual reality units being shown to great acclaim and excitement by Oculus and Sony.

"VR is cool tech," he said. "One of the things we have is this huge Microsoft research organisation that is important to us as platform holders in helping us think what might came next. That's where Kinect came from, it's where voice recognition came from, it's where Drivatar came from."

Microsoft is believed to be working on its own VR solution, which utilises Kinect 2.0 to aid with tracking in a fashion similar to Crystal Cove and Morpheus' solutions.

"Looking at things like Oculus, Morpheus - they haven't sent me one yet, but maybe they will - when I think about VR and the uses of it in gaming, I think there's a real there there."

Phil Spencer was at the talk filling in for Marc Whitten, Xbox's corporate vice president who departed Microsoft earlier this week to work for electronics outfit Sonos.

"Marc had been at the company for quite a while, and for some family reasons as well as professional reasons wanted to try and do something else," Spencer said of Whitten's departure. "Sonos is a very cool company located in Santa Barbara, a wonderful part of the planet to live on."

"Marc will continue to be a friend of ours," Spencer continued. "I personally will enjoy it, and I better get some free speakers from my friend Mr. Whitten."

About the Author
Martin Robinson avatar

Martin Robinson


Martin worked at Eurogamer from 2011 to 2023. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.

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