Xbox co-founder sceptical of Oculus Rift’s mass appeal, after the demise of 3D TV

Wednesday, 2nd April 2014 12:05 GMT By Dave Cook

Xbox co-founder Ed Fries has voiced his scepticism over virtual reality’s mass market appeal especially, he said, “after watching 3D TV fail so spectacularly.”

Fries’ quotes come after Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney declared that VR technology will, “completely change the world.”

In this Ask Me Anything session over on Yabbly, Fries wrote, “Hardcore gamers love new technologies and experiences and are willing to do almost anything to get them, so that’s a good market for Oculus.

“General users however are a different crowd. Given how little success the consumer electronics companies have had with 3D TVs with glasses, I am sceptical that general users are going to be strapping this thing onto their face any time soon.”

As for what Microsoft is up to in the VR space, Fries commented, “I’m not sure what Microsoft is up to these days. I hear rumors about all kinds of cool stuff but will it make it to market? After watching 3D TV fail so spectacularly the last few years, I’m a bit of a skeptic about VR, at least for the broad consumer market, but for hardcore gamers, who knows? Maybe it will work and bring some amazing new experiences.”

It follows rumours that Microsoft has bought over 80 patents for $150 million, largely related to wearable technology.

Elsewhere, Fries was asked what he would change about the original Xbox launch, if he could Time Lord his way back to the console’s creation. He replied, “Probably the easiest answer is the controller. A lot of people hated the big controller we shipped with the first version. Fortunately we had been developing a smaller controller for Japan and were able to switch that in to be the standard controller for the rest of the world pretty quickly after launch.

“Other than that, given how quickly we had to get everything together for launch I think we made pretty good decisions and got lucky that more didn’t go wrong.”

Via CVG.



  1. Dragon

    Hahahahahahahahaha incoming.

    #1 9 months ago
  2. mistermogul

    “sceptical of Oculus Rift’s mass appeal”

    A lot of people seem to think that VR is going to be the “next big thing” but I have to agree with this guy. I can’t see it having mass market appeal even though I think the tech looks great.

    #2 9 months ago
  3. DuckNation

    LOL what “mass appeal” after the FB buyout

    #3 9 months ago
  4. Tormenter

    We know this comment comes from a stance of ‘damage control’.. however I’d be inclined to agree to a certain extent.. I can’t really imagine a vast proportion of the gaming audience (hardcore gamers aren’t the vast proportion of the overall audience) wishing to strap on a headmounted device very regularly.. and if it doesn’t have that kind of mass appeal it will remain a niche (pronounced ‘neesh’ not ‘nitch’) product.

    #4 9 months ago
  5. mistermogul

    @Tormenter lol, can tell you’re not from the US!

    #5 9 months ago
  6. Tormenter



    #6 9 months ago
  7. Michael Ireland

    @Dragon Seems this post doesn’t even need with based on the preceding post.

    Straight from the horses mouth as they say.

    #7 9 months ago
  8. lookingglass

    3D TV in your home is not a powerful experience. Modern VR is an extremely intense experience.

    Will the Oculus Rift go full mainstream with its first version? Hell no.

    Will it have changed the world in 10 years when VR headsets resemble sunglasses, cost $100 and are supported by every computing device you own? You bet your ass.

    Michael Abrash just joined Oculus and explained the situation very well. The Facebook money infusion will let them build the best VR possible with current technology. That’s the iPhone 1. Then it’s heavy R&D over years to get to that iPhone 3, mass market point.

    You naysayers can continue to think the world is flat. VR will go to the edge and beyond, leaving you far, far behind.

    #8 9 months ago
  9. Dragon

    That makes a little too much sense.

    #9 9 months ago
  10. deathm00n

    @lookingglass Amem.

    #10 9 months ago
  11. lookingglass

    @Michael Ireland And you trust the company who’s losing the current console war and trying to downplay their competitors recent hype explosion?

    No wonder your perspective is so skewed. Grasping at straws as they say.

    #11 9 months ago
  12. Panthro

    I am also sceptical of the Oculus Rift due to the demise of MiniDisc players.

    #12 9 months ago
  13. Michael Ireland

    @lookingglass wat?

    #13 9 months ago
  14. Dragon

    Look, that is an absurd comparison.
    More like-
    I am also sceptical of the VR due to the demise of TV since people told me that no one will sit for hours in front of a electric screen, since that would look funny. Its also very expensive and will never go mainstream.

    #14 9 months ago
  15. Dragon

    Emphasis on word “never” in my previous comment, since I have the psychic ability to know that VR will never succeed, not even with the techological developments that will take place in the future. Once in a failure, always a failure. Trying again is for suckers.

    #15 9 months ago
  16. salarta

    1) VR is not 3D TV. They’re two very different experiences.
    2) If VR fails, it’ll be because of Oculus Rift, and Oculus Rift might cause VR to fail because it’s guaranteed to have its emphasis on using VR for social media applications rather than actual video game ones.

    Facebook and Oculus Rift are claiming things will remain unchanged, but just look at the talking points used by them, especially Zuckerberg, and we see that the real intention behind the acquisition is in Facebook’s social media platform. No matter what Oculus tries to do, Facebook will try to promote social media applications first and foremost. Facebook’s desires expressed through advertising will trump absolutely anything done by Oculus themselves. This will end up branding the device as primarily one for a Second Life or Playstation Home kind of experience, and unless the device is EXTREMELY cheap (being very generous here, $50-100), the average person is NOT going to buy a headset if they think the greater majority of development has been in making a Second Life style thing.

    We have a very recent example of what can happen with the wrong focus, too: XBox One. Microsoft, an already established maker of video game consoles, put nearly all the emphasis for the XBox One on watching films, augmented TV (whatever it’s called), use of Kinect, that sort of thing, and video games took a back seat. Months before release, Microsoft finally realized their heavy emphasis on things other than video games was hurting perception of them, and they started pushing really hard to change the narrative to suggest Microsoft is still going to heavily support video games. Yet even with months that recovery work, XBox One is behind PS4 in sales.

    And that’s with a company that everyone knows has made two video game consoles already, and that had a huge install base in the first place. Oculus Rift has neither going for them. What they have is attachment to a company whose closest possible link to video games is a Zynga-run browser game about farming digital crops. The Oculus team got money out of the deal, but sacrificed their future in doing so. They selected short-term instant gratification over long-term viability.

    There’s still a chance that Oculus could turn out well, if Facebook pushes any kind of Second Life setup so far below the radar that everyone sees video games as the primary focus. Frankly, I don’t see that happening, ever.

    #16 9 months ago
  17. Michael Ireland


    #17 9 months ago
  18. Arcnail

    Dudes right.

    People like chillin on the couch, controller in hand, and play vids.

    Do people use Kinent/Move/Wii motion stuff? Sure. But the core of it is still just the controller and getting fat on the couch. I don’t expect this VR thing to change that at all.

    #18 9 months ago
  19. Malkavian

    Any who agrees with that kind of skepticism just don’t know the difference between a peripheral and a Medium. Here’s a very simplistic comparison :

    - A peripheral (3D, wiimote, kinect) is nothing more than a gadget which enhances the interraction with an existing technology, or medium.

    - A Medium (Canvas, Cinema, Radio) is a technology through which we can send information, sound and/or images.

    Stereoscopy (or gimmickly called 3D screens in recent years) has been brought to us over and over since the mid 1800s (yes, you read that right) only to die every time a few years later. VR is NOT like stereoscopy. Please don’t fail to understand that. Virtual Reality is upon us, and it WILL change the world.

    You just have to look at the people trying it. Their reaction is very similar to the audience fleeing from the Lumiere brothers’ train, back in 1896.

    #19 9 months ago
  20. Panthro


    My comparison is fine.

    MiniDisc players are for entertainment and so are VR devices therefore failure is imminent.

    #20 9 months ago
  21. jonnymelamet


    “Stereoscopy (or gimmickly called 3D screens in recent years) has been brought to us over and over since the mid 1800s (yes, you read that right) only to die every time a few years later. VR is NOT like stereoscopy. Please don’t fail to understand that. Virtual Reality is upon us, and it WILL change the world.”

    To correct you, VR has been around since the 50′s. It has come in and out of fashion since then (like 3D).

    I think the real failure is that people will be oblivious to their surrounding while using the VR headsets. This means that people will be unable to know if something bad is happening in their surroundings.

    Unless a clock feature is implemented into the design, there is no way of telling how much time you have spent with a headset on, causing you to miss appointments or meetings, labelling the user as unreliable or anti social.

    There is also a fear of motion sickness as your brains perception of what is happening will not match your bodies knowledge of what happens. Motion sickness is probably not going to occur, but there is a possibility of avid users becoming detached from reality.

    Personally, I don’t see why people would choose to deprive themselves of their senses.

    #21 9 months ago
  22. Michael Ireland

    @jonnymelamet They won’t,

    #22 9 months ago
  23. polygem

    facebook buying into vr tech. danger. danger. danger.

    seriously, this tech might be nice, might be even awesome as a gaming experience for some games….but this facebook deal is super problematic imo and i wish, oh i wish that people would be so much more critical about these things.

    #23 9 months ago
  24. Malkavian


    To correct you, no it has not. Not like this and you should know better.

    You’re right on something though, VR has effectively been trying to succeed for a while. But it never did, because it was only a peripheral that kind of modified the existing medium, being the screen. Therefore, VR never was VR, until now. Stereoscopy always succeeded at what they were trying to do, images superposed together to create the illusion of some perspective. But that’s always been quite limited.

    But today the screen is gone, Oculus and Morpheus are not even RELATED to what people called virtual reality in the past.

    Dome projections are a very good example of how the brain interprets immersion. Because even if you know that it is a huge bubble with images being shown on it, if the perspective is well done, your brain “understands” that the space around you changes.

    And by the way, cinema has caused people to experience stuff like motion sickness in the past as well. Also, all the other problems you try to put on VR are people problems. Anti-socials are that way, not because of what they do, but because of who they are.

    #24 9 months ago
  25. fihar

    I’m not sure how putting on OR would be that different from me putting on Loveless at the highest acceptable volume I could endure, really.

    I mean, that’s the whole point of escapism isn’t it?
    With how ridiculously hectic life has been going on lately, I might not be able to get a lot of mileage out of OR but it’d be nice to have it available if I ever want one.

    #25 9 months ago
  26. game_on

    “after watching 3D TV fail so spectacularly.”
    This. No further arguments needed.

    #26 9 months ago
  27. Malkavian


    Your comment failed as much as 3D TV did.

    Can’t compare a gimmick to a new medium.

    Try harder.

    #27 9 months ago
  28. game_on

    Face it, normal people don’t want to game with a device on their head. This will be a niche market device at best. Hell I’ve been a gamer since the beginning of the eighties and I’m not even interested.

    #28 9 months ago
  29. Panthro


    I’ve heard a few non-gamers say they want to try it, so respectively I think you’re wrong.

    They just need to smooth it off around the edges, and makes it appearance a lot more appealing.

    I haven’t played it yet, but seeing peoples reactions on the video’s I have seen I am definitely excited about it.
    I don’t even care if it becomes ‘niche’ just for gamers either as long as I enjoy using it.
    And with the buzz it is gathering from people actually within the games industry it just reinforces why I think it could be successful.

    #29 9 months ago
  30. salarta

    @Michael Ireland FLYING PENISES EVERYWHERE! Maybe some dongcopter too.

    @Malkavian VR is upon us, but it’s currently up to Sony to make it work. Steam’s only using it in-house as preparation, Oculus is essentially dead, and so far Microsoft is doing augmented reality instead of VR.

    @polygem Interesting book, I’ll have to give it a closer look.

    @Panthro People want to try it, and it’s obvious why, but the trouble is 1) WHAT they want to try with it, and 2) value.

    There’s this assumption, particularly with Facebook, that what people want is to duplicate the real world or Second Life, only with virtual reality. That’s not what people want. When a person thinks virtual reality, they think of exploring fantasy worlds, or immersing themselves in fictional worlds like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, complete with events and stories… not being a random avatar bumping into other random avatars in a place with Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings scenery. Even if a person doesn’t call it a video game, that’s what they really want out of VR: to play a video game. The excitement is in interacting with, say, Aragorn, or defending Helm’s Deep, not standing around and chatting with people in a Helm’s Deep setting.

    This is why I say that it’s all on Sony to make VR succeed. They’re the only ones working with VR that plan to eventually sell to consumers and understand that VR only works for people if it’s with a video game. Unless, of course, the headset is ludicrously cheap, like “I’ve got five spares you can borrow” cheap.

    #30 9 months ago

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