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The Xbox One won't support VR, because Microsoft broke its promise


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The Xbox One won't support VR, because Microsoft broke its promise

Microsoft's plans to include virtual reality in Xbox game consoles are virtually over.

The software giant told GamesIndustry.biz it isn't working on VR support for its popular Xbox console, despite the company's original promise (and later confirmation) that it would support the technology. The company also isn't adding support for mixed reality, a hybrid technology that allows digital objects to co-exist with physical ones.

"We don't have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality," Microsoft Chief Marketing Officer Mike Nichols told the website at the E3 video game convention in Los Angeles last week. "Our perspective on it has been and continues to be that the PC is probably the best platform for more immersive VR and MR."

That's a stark difference from what Xbox chief Phil Spencer originally promised when he introduced the company's Xbox One X console, originally known as Project Scorpio, in June 2016. "This is hardware built specifically to lead the console industry into true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR," he said at the time, adding the hardware would enable "premiere VR experiences without sacrificing performance."

One year later, Xbox chief Phil Spencer told CNET again that the Xbox One X would still fully support virtual reality, even after the Wall Street Journal reported that it wouldn't.   

But Spencer told CNET sister site Giant Bomb something different in June 2017. In a candid interview with Giant Bomb's Jeff Gerstmann, Spencer admitted he had misgivings about whether VR was ready, saying he was merely "long-term bullish" about the tech. "I worry that a couple years ago, we had maybe an over-exuberance around VR which put more interest in it than maybe the tech and experiences could deliver," he said.

 

"My view is, kind of in the family room environment, we're probably a few years away from it being something that will really work. The cords are kind of an issue [...] it's really that family room environment that we're struggling a little bit with."

"We're saying OK, let's stay more on the PC where we're seeing action and developer interest—until we really get the art form of what it means to create great MR experiences, then it can go to more places."  

"We're somewhere in the middle, we're still learning, [VR] will happen," he added later.

Spencer had a point: VR still hasn't quite taken off yet. But people who bought the $500 Xbox One X expecting that feature may not have much sympathy for Microsoft's business decision.

Microsoft confirmed part of Nichols's new remarks in a statement.

"Because of the opportunity with Windows Mixed Reality, and because we believe the user experience will be best on PC right now, that is where our focus is," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email statement. "We have nothing to share about MR for console at this time," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
 

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Can't say I'm upset about it. I'm sure there are people out there that really wanted it on Xbox but support for VR just isn't there yet. Cheaper headsets are becoming more a thing but even on PlayStation VR good games aren't as plentyful as one would like after making the investment. 

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Even as a big fan of VR, I think this is for the best. A new Xbox will be out in 2 years, and even then it's not clear to me that VR needs to be supported. I think the PC is really the best place for high end VR experiences, but the real mass market for VR will almost certainly be stand alone headsets. The ones that exist now aren't where they need to be, but give them some more pixel pushing power and inside-out positional tracking, and those will be what drives any real VR adoption.

 

Microsoft is still in catch up mode, and they're better off building the best possible system and the best set of traditional games to sell it than spending too much time or effort building out their own VR system.

 

All that said, if they could find a way to partner with Oculus or Vive on their next gen headset, that might make sense to me. Take those PC experiences and make it plug-and-play with an Xbox Next and that could be a win for all involved. I don't imagine MS seeing such an agreement worthwhile, but it might be their best option to have a place in the VR landscape.

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The wires really do feel like a major limiting factor for any room that isn't dedicated to VR (or set up in such a way that you can easily move a few things and have it be very VR friendly, like my room) -- they're long and clumsy, but also not really long enough? Even when you have the space you need and are used to it, the wires are still a bit of an issue.

 

Given all that could potentially be wrong with VR, having it just be the wires that's the main sticking point (for me at least) has been a huge relief. That's a solve-able problem, and I'm sure wireless, or at least wireless support, will be the norm before too long. A few years after that, I imagine we'll see some quality stand-alones.

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I think that makes sense.

 

To hit critical mass, VR might need wire-free and inside-out tracking just because accessibility might be a bigger blocker at this point than the headset display and compute power.

 

That said, 4K with foveated rendering wouldn't be bad to have either :p 

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15 minutes ago, Xbob42 said:

That's a weird specificity. You didn't have such an arbitrary cutoff for playing standard games on a normal screen!

I don't get what you are saying?

 

Edit: Like until VR is better and less effortless than playing normally, I have no interest in it. I don't get your post. 

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7 minutes ago, Bacon said:

I don't get what you are saying?

 

Edit: Like until VR is better and less effortless than playing normally, I have no interest in it. I don't get your post. 

I don't think VR will ever be less effort than playing normally. I mean, setting it up will eventually be roughly the same effort, but the entire point of VR is that you're interacting with the world. The effort is the whole reason you're playing! Some games are a lot less effort than others (some are just played normally with a gamepad) but even then you're at the very least looking around and still wearing a headset.

 

And in SAO you have to live in the damned world, which is the most effort possible!

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Just now, Xbob42 said:

I don't think VR will ever be less effort than playing normally. I mean, setting it up will eventually be roughly the same effort, but the entire point of VR is that you're interacting with the world. The effort is the whole reason you're playing! Some games are a lot less effort than others (some are just played normally with a gamepad) but even then you're at the very least looking around and still wearing a headset.

 

And in SAO you have to live in the damned world, which is the most effort possible!

 

I mean like the actual game world part before shit goes real. You just do everything with your mind. No need have a larger space to move around in. 

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Doesn't bug me. Last thing I need what yet another VR headset at this point. I have both the PSVR and the Oculus Rift, and they cover what I need for the time being.

 

It bugs me more that Sony did not announce better VR controllers for the PSVR. The f'n Move wands suck. They need something with analog sticks on each hand.

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I never put much stock in Microsoft adding VR support to the Xbox One. I mean they never really came out and demonstrated it. It was more like a promise of it coming with no real details. PSVR is good and the next step up would be PC. It is nice that there are VR games on all the VR platforms. They keep coming out and are fun. I'm behind on the VR games that are out already.

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As someone who spends most of his gaming time on his Xbox and listens to Xbox-centric podcasts like Unlocked and Major Nelson, I never got the impression they had any intention of moving forward with VR, and it definitely wasn't a selling point for the X for me.

 

That being said, I've considered getting a PSVR for about 10 seconds. It's something I'd love to try out at a friend's house, but I just don't think I care enough to invest in it.

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On 6/21/2018 at 10:30 AM, The def star said:

Can't say I'm upset about it. I'm sure there are people out there that really wanted it on Xbox but support for VR just isn't there yet. Cheaper headsets are becoming more a thing but even on PlayStation VR good games aren't as plentyful as one would like after making the investment. 

 

Here's the thing, will the Next Playstation support the current VR Headset and games?

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20 minutes ago, Spork3245 said:

 

I hope not. The PS5 should support a much higher res headset with infinitely better motion tracking.

I think he's asking if it'll be backwards compatible, not if this will still be the headset of choice.

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