What’s going on with VR for Xbox?
With Sony now having sold over a million PSVRs, and the PC VR industry seeing loads of new games being developed, it seems odd that Microsoft are keeping so quiet about a possible VR headset for its Xbox gaming console. Microsoft are clearly more interested in mixed reality on the whole, and their only in-house headset that they’ve revealed is the Hololens, a device that is unlikely to be aimed particularly at gamers. Later this year they’re pushing Windows VR alongside a host of OEM PC-based VR headsets, but the big question remains: will any of these work with the Xbox?
It’s no secret that Microsoft gaming hardware tends to be aptly compatible between Windows PCs and Xbox consoles. The Xbox One gamepad has long been considered the best gamepad to use on PC, for example. Microsoft has also made a concerted effort to merge the Xbox gaming platform with Windows, with native Windows Apps built-in that give the option of sharing your Xbox account – from friends list and achievements to digital purchases – with your Windows PC, but this has been somewhat thwarted by the massive dominance of Steam when it comes to PC gaming.
The Windows VR platform is likely going to be in direct competition with Oculus Home and SteamVR, which begs the question of what games can one expect to play with a Windows VR headset. Nothing big seems to have been announced so far, which is somewhat concerning for the adoption of these upcoming headsets.
Xbox One X
At E3 today, a new high-powered Xbox One was announced, aimed squarely at hardcore gamers looking to spend more money in order to max out the performance and graphical fidelity of their Xbox games. This announcement follows the long-since released PlayStation 4 Pro, a console built not only to appeal to traditional hardcore gamers, but also to pave the way for future VR games that demand more powerful hardware. While Microsoft are clearly following in Sony’s footsteps to some extent, their announcement of their tongue-twisting Xbox One X comes alongside absolutely no VR-related news. Either they’re under strict instructions to keep hush-hush about this, or they’ve missed the boat completely.
In a BBC News interview with Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, it seems like the focus really is on mixed reality for PC, and the prospect of seeing VR gaming on Xbox any time soon is unlikely. Or perhaps Phil is just a great actor, expertly concealing a big announcement. But probably not.