Microsoft just announced its Microsoft Teams metaverse for meetings and video calls, but the company also has plans for gaming and entertainment. Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says the software maker is “absolutely” focused on gaming for the metaverse with Xbox.
“You can absolutely expect us to do things in gaming,” says Nadella. “If you take Halo as a game, it is a metaverse. Minecraft is a metaverse, and so is Flight Sim. In some sense, they’re 2D today, and the question is can you now take that to a full 3D world, and we absolutely plan to do so.”
We’ve been waiting to see what Microsoft will do for Minecraft to transform it into a metaverse for VR and AR headsets for years. The company originally demonstrated the potential for Minecraft with augmented reality at the initial introduction of the HoloLens headset, wowing those who tried the experience. It looked like a special version of Minecraft for the HoloLens was being worked on six years ago, but so far all we’ve seen is Minecraft Earth, a mobile augmented reality mobile game, come and go.
Transforming Minecraft, Halo, and Flight Sim into full 3D worlds is an ambitious project, particularly if these environments will allow players to explore them together side by side with VR or AR headsets. Microsoft Flight Simulator already does a lot of this, with players able to pilot planes in a multiplayer environment that mimics real-world weather and locations. Flight Sim and Minecraft even have VR support, too.
Nadella hasn’t committed to exactly when we’ll see Microsoft’s push into a 3D metaverse for gaming more broadly. Microsoft’s enterprise announcements today are mainly focused on 3D avatars and shared virtual spaces, and Xbox has had its own 3D avatars for years now. The question will be how Microsoft adapts its AltspaceVR social network and first-party games for metaverse applications on the Xbox, and whether the company will ever bring VR or AR headsets to Xbox consoles.