Microsoft Worked On An Xbox VR Headset As A PlayStation VR Competitor - Report

Would you be interested in an Xbox VR headset?

34 Comments
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Now Playing: Xbox On Halo Infinite, Exclusive Games, And New Consoles | E3 2018

A new report from GameSpot sister site CNET goes into depth about Microsoft's plans for an Xbox virtual reality headset that ultimately never got off the ground. "Early briefs" on the headset suggested the headset was to be a traditionally designed competitor to Sony's PlayStation VR instead of something new and completely groundbreaking. The screen quality was considered "good," according to the report, but not on the same level as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

Microsoft's plans for an Xbox VR headset are now reportedly on hold. Why did Microsoft pause it's VR plans? Sources inside Microsoft told CNET that the company is waiting until it can release a trailblazing piece of technology that is "sleeker" and possibly wireless.

Indeed, one of the issues some people have with VR headsets in their current form is that they are too big and bulky, and clunky with the need for wires. A smaller, wireless headset would indeed be a significant step forward. There is also the matter of processing power, as some have said the PS4 and Xbox One are too limited for true VR.

According to CNET's story, Microsoft informed partners earlier this year that it was putting its VR plans on ice. Perhaps more intriguingly, Microsoft also reportedly reached out to unspecified partners "over the past couple years" to make VR games, though no other details are known about this.

It's been rumoured for a long time that Microsoft was working on a VR headset, as a supposed design document from 2012 showed an Xbox VR headset of some kind.

While Microsoft hasn't itself made a VR headset for Xbox or as a general device, the company has partnered with VR giant Oculus to include Xbox controllers with the device. Microsoft is, however, moving forward with augmented reality technology with its HoloLens headset. Microsoft showed a Halo HoloLens demo at E3 2015--and it was pretty magical.

The full CNET story is stacked with more interesting insight--go read it here.

When Microsoft first started talking about Project Scorpio, the console we now know as the Xbox One, the company said it was VR-ready. However, in 2017 Microsoft said its VR plans are more focused on PC than Xbox, so the news from CNET's story is no big surprise.

At E3 2018, Microsoft announced that it is working on new Xbox consoles to follow the Xbox One, and it's exciting to think about how powerful the systems might be and if they will support VR/AR in any capacity.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for andrewsqual
andrewsqual

Simple. Xbone simply would be a horrible console to play VR on. People think standard PS4 resolutions on PSVR are bad? How would you like to play 400p resolution VR games on a standard Xbone? That leaves us with XboneX as the only console that could utilise Xbox VR, you know, that console that has an install base right now that is SMALLER than PSVR's install base, a VR format that people claim is a failure in sales a 3 million right now.

THAT is why Xbox has no VR right now. Was that so hard to figure out?

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

Good. VR is nothing but a fad right now that's ultimately flopping. I remember in 2016 (or 2017) when so many developers pushed hard for VR versions of their games and now I barely hear a peep.

Avatar image for blueberry_bandit
Blueberry_Bandit

@xenomorphalien: If you think it's a fad or flop, then you haven't been looking into any facts.

And you'd be wrong. Hellblade just released in VR. Definitive version. Wipeout released earlier this year. Definitive version. Dreams will release in VR as well. Prey and Wolfenstein are getting VR spinoffs too.

And there are now AAA games just for VR on the way from Insomniac, Respawn, Valve.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@blueberry_bandit: And then they'll all flop in sales.

Avatar image for andrewsqual
andrewsqual

@xenomorphalien: XboneX must be a horrendous flop then lol.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@andrewsqual: How exactly?

Avatar image for blueberry_bandit
Blueberry_Bandit

@xenomorphalien: Bethesda games have met sales expectations, and Hellblade was created not for sales but for experience with VR and curiosity.

Avatar image for xenomorphalien
XenomorphAlien

@blueberry_bandit: And the rest underperform

Avatar image for vilified_signals
Vilified_Signals

So Xbox worked on a VR headset before people there decided that they weren't going to have another Kinect fiasco.

Good thing, too. I don't want VR. Not until it's 100x better than it is right now.

Avatar image for andrewsqual
andrewsqual

@vilified_signals: Yeah like the way Bluray, mandatory installs and cross buy are "100x better" when Xbone started using them this gen lol.

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@vilified_signals: VR is great right now... if you have the power to run the games (like on PC). The perfect arcade game medium.

Avatar image for alexofburg
AlexOfBurg

And I bet dollars to donuts that Halo Arcade game just released was supposed to be for the canned VR

Avatar image for heqteur
Heqteur

It's kinda useless for MS to do that since it would be super simple to patch VR support into the console's OS and let player use their WMR headsets on XONE and add-in VR games on their console's online store.

Avatar image for ranger1208
RANGER1208

Would be funny if the Xbox fans that called PSVR and other VR headsets "gimmicks" will isntantly bend over when Microsoft announces its new VR headset.

Anyway, I think it was a good idea for them to wait, since the VR technology is still in need of refinement, especially since the majority of VR games are mostly 1-3 hours overpriced and glorified tech demos. There are a few exceptions but it's not a whole lot.

Avatar image for bdrtfm
BDRTFM

@ranger1208:? It wasn't just "Xbox fans" calling it a gimmick or more accurately a fad and too early, not ready etc. Where you got that idea is beyond me. Did you poll the millions not really into the idea and ask them if they were Xbox fans?

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

Well, they're right. The hardware isn't there yet for a great VR experience with current consoles. PSVR is ok to play, but developing for it (and porting it) is a pain in the butt and time consuming.

The minimum FPS you'd need to hit is 60FPS (with the tiniest wiggle room). And considering you need to render the scene twice (one for each eye), that already makes it a lot harder. You pretty much have to use every trick in the book to get a more graphics heavy game solidly working on PSVR (which doesn't come cheap).

Avatar image for Barighm
Barighm

@m4a5: Actually, the FPS needs to be more like 140fps to avoid motion sickness and straining the eye.

Avatar image for m4a5
m4a5

@Barighm: Actually, the minimum FPS that you can target for developing for the PS4 is 60 (and through technology, that becomes 120).

I wasn't talking about a "comfortable" FPS. I am talking about minimum.

Avatar image for Pyrosa
Pyrosa

Just let Oculus support titles on XOX... Keeps the capital expenditure minimal, while allowing a partner volunteer for the risk.

Personally I have zero interest in the tech... it's the definition of anti-social gaming, like feeding your kids a tablet at the dinner table.

Avatar image for andrewsqual
andrewsqual

@Pyrosa: That still isn't a big enough install base when you add up every single Oculus unit and XboneX console sold to date. PS4 still annihilates them triple the amount easily. And people claim PSVR is a failure.

Avatar image for blueberry_bandit
Blueberry_Bandit

@Pyrosa: How is it anti-social? You can play with people in the room with asymetrical games. And nothing is more social than playing online in VR.

Avatar image for dacontag
dacontag

Funny that this article comes out right after psvr got the awesome game that is firewall zero hour

Avatar image for cyrribrae
cyrribrae

People are underestimating how hard it is to make PC VR work on a console - and SEVERELY underestimating the benefit of doing so. Lots of VR devs are already talking about a divide between all of the PC VR solutions and then PSVR. It's such an issue that most companies (not very large) are opting out of making ports because it makes more sense just to move on. I don't think it's a matter of power, it's more of a matter that VR is not built for console architecture right now. It's more a matter that it costs money and devs and talent and time to figure out - and that's a precious rare resource right now that's probably not good for the industry as a whole to continue splitting. MS has said that they think the future of VR is going to incubate on the PC. Seems like a smart move.

Avatar image for WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

Ya. I mean of course they had some skin in it. Especially after their Window Mixed reality we'd have to be kind of dumb to not think that MS wasn't looking into VR for Xbox. However, the fact that they'd probably want to use their own device (they don't even have one yet) makes more sense that to just support other hardware developers and trying to get that potential nightmare to work.

I figured they'd at least support one of the many windows supported VR hmds but because it is the Xbox division it would be better for them to create their own device and put some effort into their own content.

They need to just focus on the Xbox One in general right now. Buying new studios and getting proper normal content is probably a bigger priority for them then spending, even more, to develop VR that only works on a pretty small user base compared to Sony and PC owners. The Xbox having proprietary VR wouldn't work right now. Sony's clocking in 3+ million PSVR sold with an 80+ million user base. PC VR might be close to that as well between Vive and Rift. There's no way MS could get those numbers right now. They're smart to wait for a more enticing tech advance to sell VR that isn't already available. Wireless is a big feature for that.

Avatar image for Spartan_418
Spartan_418

Frustrating. Even if they decide not to release their own Xbox-branded VR headset, it shouldn't be that hard for the One X to support the existing Rift, Vive or WMR headsets.

Just add support for those headsets, (don't charge too much for the adapter, if one is needed), and make it easy for VR games on PC to be ported over.

Avatar image for andrewsqual
andrewsqual

@Spartan_418: Still not enough install base. Do people not know that XboneX is nowhere near even 2 million units sold to date???

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Daveof89

@Spartan_418: Seriously? Wrong. The specs on the one X are not good enough. Vive and Rift need a lot more processing power.

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Spartan_418

@Daveof89: Seriously? Wrong. One X is more powerful than the minimum spec for the original Rift and Vive, a GTX 970.

Perhaps it wouldn't be enough for a Vive Pro or equivalent, and some games might need to run at reduced settings compared to their PC versions, but for those 2016 headsets yes it is powerful enough, and it would still be higher quality than PSVR.

Avatar image for WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

@Spartan_418: Ya, that guy doesn't know what he's talking about. The Xbox One X could do really good VR no problem. The OG PS4 is ancient and I am baffled at the quality VR it can push out and I've been a Vive user since 2016.

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RANGER1208

@WingChopMasta: The PSVR still has some good quality of games like Firewall, RE7 and Moss. The problem is that it's being overshadowed by an abundnace of he overpiced (and glorified) tech demos like Dying Reborn, The Walker, Unearthing Mars, etc. That, and just plain shitty VR games with no effort poured in it like Loading Human.

Though if you're referring to the base PS4 in terms of handling VR quality, I definitely agree. I had to buy a PS4 Pro solely just to play VR games normally, and never wanted to even own a Pro in the first place.

Avatar image for WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

@ranger1208: Oh, ya. VR, in general, is stemming a lot of crap tech demos and shovelware. It's natural or a new piece of tech to attract people willing to take advantage of their small fanbase eager to grab anything for it.

I am referring to the PS4 just being able to handle good VR. It's a great package for someone wanting in at a reasonable price, especially if they own a PS4. The Pro is a good choice too. I did the same thing. I was never going to bother getting a Pro and before I got a PSVR I was just going to stop using my PS4 because I got an Xbox One X on sale and use it was a media device. Figured I'd consolidate. NOPE. Now I am back to being a Sony fanboy with my pro and VR. I haven't touched my Vive in a year because the PRSVR is just so convenient and comfy. I can Skyrim for hours without any strain on my face. It's glorious.

Avatar image for Mraou
Mraou

That's good to hear that Microsoft are at least still interested in VR; the more companies involved the better.