Xbox Virtual Reality?

The Xbox One S
The Xbox One S

Will we see the day where we can dive into a virtual reality world on our Xbox Ones? Probably not is the resounding answer here.

Since the whisperings of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio began fans and media outlets have speculated about the possible inclusion of a VR system with the Xbox. The PS4 has one, your PC can have one, so why not Xbox?

After all these whispers and murmurs it appears we are just as close to getting VR for the Xbox as we were a year ago: and that’s a great distance away. It seems as if the executives at Microsoft are putting their eggs in just one basket and that basket is the PC gaming market.

PCs can be much more powerful than any Xbox ever could, let’s be honest. But the announcement of the Xbox One X at E3 had me thinking. If they have truly made the world’s most powerful console, which I believe they have, they maybe they are gearing towards catering for the VR world – how my dreams were shattered.

During Microsoft’s conference at E3 this year, the lack of virtual reality mentions surprised me hugely. I was sure after the announcement of the Xbox One X and the Xbox One S that something VR related was coming. What we know since E3 is that executive Phil Spencer from Microsoft mentioned the words ‘Mixed Reality’ in an interview.

“I don’t get many questions about consoles and mixed reality in the living room. When I do this on my PC, I’m closer to my PC - that seems to be a much more user-friendly scenario today.” He said.

So What Is This Mixed Reality?

At E3 2015 you might have seen a glimpse of what he’s talking about. I remember seeing some sort of augmented reality demo in a Microsoft video. It showed a table in an empty room and then out of nowhere hundreds of Minecraft blocks appeared on the table. The video hinted at gamers being able to basically build Minecraft on their empty dining room table, sort of like a big Lego builds session on acid. That was really the last piece of serious action I’ve seen on there being VR on a current Xbox.

Mixed Reality as they’re calling it seems like augmented reality on the face of it. It seems like some kind of insurance policy or some way of Microsoft telling us to not hold our breath, or better yet, buy a PC.

So What Does the Future Hold?

As far as we can tell and from the noises coming out of Microsoft executives, they’re going to be focussing their VR efforts towards the PC market. But that’s not to say that the Xbox Two, or whatever it’s going to be called will be void of any VR, right? The honest answer is that nobody truly knows.

The PS4 has had such success and acclaim with its VR system that it almost sounds foolish for the Xbox to not at least try tapping into that market. Xbox has had some trouble with the extra hardware that accompanies their consoles in the past, however. Take note on the Kinect 2, a failure, on the whole, let’s not kid ourselves.

The Kinect 2 had some okay qualities about it. I enjoyed being able to record videos and turn off and on my system on the fly, but for everything else it did, it just wasn’t there. It certainly wasn’t worth its extra price point and it certainly wasn’t worth going out of your way to get. If Microsoft is to ever release a VR, they must learn from their mistakes with the Kinect 2.

I find it commendable in some ways that Microsoft aren’t putting out a half baked version of VR or some shoddy rival to the PS4s version. In that regard, it seems like they have learned from the disappoint Kinect 2 experience. “I think there are just issues with, my TV’s across the room, I’ve got cables hanging out’, Phil Spencer told the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-40245539) He went on to describe how he favours his experiences playing VR on PC “When I do this on my PC, I’m closer to my PC, that seems to be a more user-friendly scenario today.”

All the noise from the Microsoft camp seems to indicate that there won’t be a VR system that accompanies the Xbox One X. It’s a great shame and one I think they may live to regret after all the Xbox One X will be more than capable of supporting high-quality virtual reality. Pointing people towards the PC market for VR is all well and good, but in times where pennies are stretched, it’s a question of who can truly afford to support both a high spec PC and a Xbox Console.

It looks like you may have to wait till the next generation consoles or beyond to be finally playing BR on your Xbox. Unless Microsoft’s stance on VR itself, then you may have to wait even longer. If there are any positives to take from this news it’s that there are a VR systems available for home consoles. It’s affordable, it’s good quality, but you’ll need a PS4.

On another note, at least we won’t have to sit through another Skyrim Release, so thanks for that Xbox.

Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Tom has a typical northern English soul. He may sound as mundane as Jon Snow, but at least he tries to articulate. Lover of video games, comics, geek pop culture and wishing he could play Dungeons & Dragons.
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