We’re still a few months away from the launch of the Xbox One X console, but it seems that Microsoft executives need to get their story straight. Apparently, one executive told one news outlet that the console will not have VR support, while another is telling tech bloggers that the report is false and the Xbox One X console will indeed have VR support.
Executives skip over VR support at E3
Interestingly, Microsoft executives skipped over the topic of virtual reality when they showed off the Xbox One X at E3 earlier this week. As such, it’s understandable that some are left wondering whether the console will offer VR support. It certainly seems like a strange omission at a time when gaming companies, console makers and tech firms in general are starting to dive into virtual reality.
Microsoft executives defended their omission of VR support by saying that the opportunity for virtual reality is bigger on PCs because there’s a bigger installed base and PCs can probably offer a better customer experience. Last year at E3, the company appeared to indicate that its next console would support virtual reality and, in fact, even hook up to high-end headsets. Many suggested at the time that Facebook’s Oculus Rift would probably be supported.
However, now Microsoft is working with a number of partners to build VR headsets that will work with high-end gaming PCs. The company explained that it believes that VR support on consoles should be wireless.
Xbox One X console will support VR after all
Apparently, Microsoft executives led The Wall Street Journal to believe that the Xbox One X console won’t support virtual reality at all, which would be a huge letdown because its top competitor, the PS4 Pro, does support VR. However, Xbox chief Phil Spencer denied that report and told CNET that the console will be VR-capable. He also reportedly told GameSpot that he hasn’t been hearing many requests for mixed reality games for consoles. Microsoft executives need to get their messaging straight because it sounds like their priority when it comes to virtual reality is PCs, although the Xbox One X console will also offer VR support.
With Sony focusing on virtual reality for the PlayStation 4 Pro, Microsoft’s decision looks to be a bad one because it risks arriving at the party too late. Then again, perhaps the company isn’t too far off the mark. Wired notes that console gamers aren’t diving into VR yet, based on the low penetration rates for Sony’s PlayStation VR headset. The Japanese firm has sold about 1 million PSVR headsets since the October launch, but that amounts to only about a 1.8% saturation of the installed base, which is at least 55 million, according to SuperData.
Playing experience may be the real reason console gamers aren’t into VR yet
Wired notes that VR headsets are expensive, but Microsoft’s argument is that the bigger reason console gamers aren’t diving into virtual reality is that the experience isn’t good enough for it to be a must-have item on consoles. The big problem is that the technology isn’t yet far enough along for VR headsets to be wireless, so using them requires a cord stretched across the room. So while the Xbox One X console may offer VR support for those who want it, Microsoft is betting that the technology isn’t ready to take off yet. If the company’s gamble turns out to be correct, it will give it a chance to get a leg up in VR gaming on PCs before turning its attention to VR support for the Xbox One X console.
After all, it’s one thing for support to be there but not be a priority and another thing entirely for there to be no support at all.