Xbox VR: all about virtual reality from Microsoft
Will Microsoft create virtual reality glasses for Xbox? It’s the question we’ve all been asking ourselves since the launch of the original Sony PSVR. But the Redmond company is tight-lipped and has been reluctant to enter the virtual reality arena before.
Now the situation has changed thanks to the Meta Quest 2 — one of the best and most affordable virtual reality headsets — and the new Sony PSVR 2 for PS5. VR is not a fad and Microsoft knows it.
In fact, it can be said that VR gaming has never been as popular as it is today. Inevitably, this leads to speculation as to whether Microsoft will enter this race by supporting the technology on the Xbox Series X and even the S. In the end, the only thing more impressive than using Microsoft Flight Simulator on one of these consoles would be playing it while wearing an Xbox headset. VR.
Microsoft already has experience in the virtual reality market thanks to its HoloLens mixed reality glasses. It’s not too hard to imagine Microsoft adding or adapting HoloLens to Xbox Series X/S instead of creating a VR headset like Sony has done with PSVR. But the HoloLens 2’s insanely high price — $3,500 — puts it out of reach for most mortals. Also, it’s augmented reality, not virtual reality: they’re not designed to fully immerse you in other worlds like PSVR2 or Quest 2.
So the question remains whether Microsoft may be preparing to make its own affordable Xbox consumer VR headset or not. Here we have gathered all the information and rumors on the matter to see if diving into Halo Infinite VR could become a reality in the near future.
Microsoft’s history with virtual reality
(Image credit: Microsoft)
Although Microsoft hasn’t officially announced that it will be making Xbox VR headsets, it has been involved in the technology in a variety of ways.
For example, the Xbox 360 Kinect module used RGB cameras and infrared detectors to track body movement without the need for a controller, something it also added — albeit unsuccessfully — to Xbox One. This technology can be implemented with virtual reality. in the same way that Sony adapted its PlayStation Move controls and the PlayStation Camera for the PSVR.
Microsoft has also collaborated with Valve and HP on the design of the HP Reverb G2 VR headset. And, as we already know, it has mixed-reality headsets: the HoloLens 2. Starting at $3,500, they’re unfeasible for consumption, but it indicates that Microsoft has the technological expertise to spare to create a gaming VR headset for All public.
Also, last month there was a leak indicating that Microsoft may be considering ending development of HoloLens 3 for professionals and creating a consumer product instead. And on the other hand, the new interest in consumer VR and the metaverse — something that was mentioned as part of its $67.4 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard — could also indicate that the company is changing direction and may have the intention to develop a consumer VR headset instead of the expensive HoloLens that have so far been focused on industrial use, including contracts with the US military.
Working against this idea are problems retaining its VR engineers: LinkedIn profiles show that at least 25 Microsoft mixed reality employees left for Meta in 2021, including several decades-old veterans.
Should the Xbox Series X/S have virtual reality?
(Image credit: Microsoft)
The market for virtual reality games may be small compared to the market for standard games. The Sony PSVR has only managed to sell 5 million units, which pales in comparison to the more than 110 million PS4 units sold in its entire existence.
But the market is growing and the Meta Quest 2 (Oculus Quest 2) has gained much more ground as a wireless VR headset that can connect to a more powerful PC to play games like Half-Life: Alyx.
Sony now plans to release PSVR 2 in late 2022 or early 2023, so there is a feeling that Microsoft shouldn’t miss out on this emerging market and has to develop its own system.
The potential to transform your gaming experience is enormous. Imagine Microsoft’s flight simulator experiencing it inside the cockpit, literally looking out the window at anywhere in the world.
The PSVR’s impact in this regard was notable, although it was held back by its weak technical specifications and performance. However, it provided an even more realistic experience in Gran Turismo Sport. So much so that we can’t wait to see Gran Turismo 7 on PSVR 2 (if they make it compatible).
There is a lot of untapped potential in this new generation and Microsoft should act fast if it doesn’t want to be left behind in this market that is now in full swing.
Why there will be no Xbox VR for now
(Image credit: Sony Computer Interactive Entertainment)
On the other hand, despite the potential and acceleration of the market, this remains a niche. Perhaps that’s why Microsoft will avoid it for now.
Although there is no doubt that the Xbox Series X can run VR games without problems, the comments of Phil Spencer — the great head of gaming in Redmond — make it clear why they are not ready to take the plunge yet.
Following the Xbox One X reveal at E3 2017, Spencer appeared in a Giant Bomb video where he discussed Xbox’s lack of VR. That day he claimed he was a “category believer” but had reservations about his potential in your living room, especially with cables.
But that was in 2017 and now that barrier seems to have been partially removed in the case of PSVR 2, which only requires a cable and dispenses with the need for an external camera. The Meta Quest 2 is completely wireless but it doesn’t have the power of the PS5 or Xbox Series X.
Spencer hasn’t ruled out Microsoft getting to the point where it feels comfortable launching VR for Xbox. But for now it seems more likely that Xbox owners won’t have the option of Microsoft or third parties anytime soon. Maybe not until the next generation of consoles arrives. Hopefully the price, audience, and cable issue will have been fully resolved by then.
Can you use a VR headset with Xbox Series X/S?
Xbox Series X/S does not officially support any VR headsets. Italian Xbox users saw a message in 2021 that said “a virtual reality headset update is available” when plugging in an Xbox Wireless Headset, but Microsoft nixed that hope as a supposed mistranslation. Today there is no Xbox game that supports any VR mode.