Microsoft’s Xbox and Virtual Reality. Two things we have been dreaming of being together, but we have never heard anything positive about the two. From the VP of gaming at Microsoft saying no, to the company as a whole being divided as what to do with the future of gaming. The future of Microsoft and their console VR is full of questions, and there are fewer answers right now than we would hope for. Project Scarlett is set to release in about a year, so where is the VR compatibility?
What is Microsoft’s plan?
When it comes to virtual gaming with a dedicated VR device on the console platform, Microsoft hasn’t been anything short of shady. Had they said what they said without any action, it would be easier to believe that they had no plans. Instead, Xbox went out and acquired a mass of virtual reality talent for their development teams. We haven’t seen anything that suggests that any games from those new developers will be geared towards VR, but it didn’t go unnoticed. Getting VR development talent is a lot easier than creating wireless headsets with nice VR technology inside.
The Vice President of gaming for Microsoft, Phil Spencer, is on record saying that “I have some issues with VR — it’s isolating and I think of games as a communal, kind of together experience. We’re responding to what our customers are asking for and… nobody’s asking for VR,” Spencer said. “The vast majority of our customers know if they want a VR experience, there’s places to go get those. We see the volumes of those on PC and other places.”
Welp. Either he is right and this whole community is going to shortly be in a downward spiral (it’s not), or Microsoft is in a tough spot when it comes to knowing what the community wants and is expecting from them. We aren’t going to definitively say that the world is dying for VR to come with the next Xbox, but we do know that there is a market for it. Simply look at the PS VR platform. It’s incredibly successful and works with more than just the PS Pro.
When it comes to Microsoft and a gaming headset, all we know is that the plan is to follow what the fans want. Apparently that’s not VR, from Xbox at least.
Oculus and Xbox VR
For now, let’s assume that Microsoft and Xbox truly don’t have plans to create their own VR headset. This is assuming that the reports of no VR hardware being tested is true, and that Xbox is planning a big surprise reveal. So what about Oculus headsets possibly working with the upcoming console? It is a possibility, to say the least. Xbox consoles are incredibly powerful, and they are saying that the Scarlett Project is going to compare to high-end PC’s when it is finally released. This is promising enough.
We know Oculus and Xbox have a history of helping each other, as VR gaming can be done with an Xbox controller. The idea of being able to hook up a Rift, or even a Quest via Link, isn’t too far fetched. In fact, if this idea was to ever hold any weight, we believe that it would come through the Quest being able to hook up to your console via an Oculus Link cable and play some titles as an Xbox VR Headset. We know that the first time we played SUPERHOT on the Oculus Rift, it was with the Xbox One Controller. Could we see this teamwork again?
It wouldn’t be coming from Microsoft themselves, but the compatibility would bring some people from the VR platform to the newest Xbox One games and VR games with the right compatibility.
Mixed Reality Possibilities
Its no secret that VR is growing in popularity, but that isn’t where we think the future is. we know that gaming with VR headsets is fun and inclusive, and we know having VR support on your PC is important, but we don’t think it will stay that way forever. We think augmented reality is going to be the name of the game, especially when we are able to wear glasses like Peter Parker did when he was far from home.
The headset that is most likely to be compatible with the Xbox Scarlett Project that we already have in the market? The Hololens AR headset. The VR industry isn’t inclined to help Microsoft by giving their own headset compatibility with other companies’ hardware, but the Hololens team will have no problem helping the Xbox team. The Hololens isn’t a home to even one video game right now, but adding a corded connection to the Xbox could change that. That could turn the Xbox not only into a PC but into a home for both AR and VR glasses. PC VR isn’t the standard for this, just a headset that could overlay the game into the real world.
At launch, the Hololens 2 has been all business, but it could add a wide set of gaming consumers with the ability to become a high-end AR gaming headset. We haven’t seen much of those yet, and we don’t think the software would be too hard to manage. The hardware of both devices will likely be up to speed.
The possibility of no Xbox VR headset
We have been trying to be optimistic about the future of a virtual world for Xbox, but the gloomy reality is setting in. The people in the highest positions at Microsoft have expressed the lack of interest in creating a virtual reality headset for their upcoming video game console. We won’t see any device with the Xbox One VR title on it, but will that change with the Scarlett if there are no rumors about hardware this late in production?
The gaming news and VR news community may have to come to the realization that Microsoft and Xbox may simply be too stubborn to change their ideas on how successful virtual reality would be. Many believe the adoption would be mixed, but PS VR has shown that the VR community will do enough to hold the company above water. With the talent that Xbox now owns in VR development, it will be somewhat depressing to see them not use it for the development of virtual reality games.
Even without Xbox making a virtual reality headset, we could still see the company produce or develop some virtual titles. This would be a good entry point to a hardware party they are more than late for. If this is the route they take, they could see some positive signs and reasons to get some action going towards their own VR hardware. For more VR news and community updates, make sure to check back at VRGear.com