Releasing Microsoft’s Xbox VR headset has been a question everyone has been asking since the release of PSVR, but so far the Redmond-based company has been reluctant to officially enter the realm of console-based virtual reality.
However, it is clear that VR is not a passing fad. The Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as the Oculus Quest 2) is one of the most affordable and best VR headsets on the market we’ve seen since the Meta Quest Pro. Elsewhere, Sony has doubled its commitment to virtual reality with PSVR 2 – PSVR’s next-gen successor, a new VR headset for the PS5.
VR gaming has probably never been more popular, which inevitably led to speculation as to whether Microsoft would support the tech on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. After all, the only thing more impressive than seeing Microsoft Flight Simulator running on a console would be playing it with a headset Xbox VR. After all, it officially supports PC VR headsets.
Microsoft also has experience in the VR market with its HoloLens mixed reality headsets. It’s not hard to imagine Microsoft’s idea that would allow for functionality with Xbox Series X | consoles S instead of making a console-only proprietary headset like Sony did with PSVR.
Xbox VR: is it likely?
However, at the incredibly high price of $3,500 for the HoloLens 2, the wireless headset just isn’t affordable to be viable, not to mention as a mixed reality headset it wasn’t designed for full VR immersion.
Still, can Microsoft prepare to create its own affordable gaming VR headset for the Xbox Series X|S? Below we have summarized all the information and rumors about it and whether playing Halo Infinite in VR could become a reality in the near future.
Microsoft’s VR story
While Microsoft has not officially announced that it is making VR headsets for Xbox consoles, it has been involved with the technology in various ways. The Kinect made for the Xbox 360 used RGB cameras and infrared detectors to detect motion without a controller, which was also (albeit unsuccessfully) added to the Xbox One.
Perhaps it would be possible to implement this technology with VR, similar to how Sony adapted its PlayStation Move controllers and PlayStation camera to its original PSVR headset. Microsoft also collaborated with Valve and HP to design the HP Reverb G2 VR headset, and released its own mixed reality headset, the HoloLens.
However, the latter is staggeringly expensive, with the HoloLens 2 starting at $3,500, making it unprofitable for consumer gaming. It’s not even designed to fully immerse you in virtual reality, as it’s a mixed reality experience that relies heavily on AR: augmented reality.
However, this was also reported last month Microsoft has abandoned work on HoloLens 3, leaving his future commitment to VR in doubt. On the other hand, with more consumer interest in VR and the metaverse (something mentioned in the $67.4 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard), it could also be that the company is changing direction.
The intention may be to develop a cheaper, consumer-friendly VR headset, rather than the expensive HoloLens. This range has so far focused on business applications, including commercial contracts with the US military. If this was a turning point, however, it wouldn’t explain why it’s having trouble keeping specialist staff. LinkedIn profiles show that at least 25 Microsoft mixed reality employees left for Meta in 2021, including several long-serving veterans. Despite this, Microsoft has recently shown interest in this space.
During Meta Connect 2022, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined Mark Zuckerberg to confirm that Xbox Cloud Gaming will be coming to Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro (formerly Project Cambria). Unfortunately, these games still run on a flat screen, so you can’t suddenly jump into VR mode for big blockbusters like Forza Horizon 5.
Either way, as long as you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the platform slowly grows over time. It also means Meta Quest can beat PSVR 2 for one simple reason.
Should VR come to Xbox Series X|S?
The market for VR games can be small compared to consoles, with Sony’s PSVR only selling 5 million units as of January 2020. The Meta Quest 2 (or Oculus Quest 2) gained popularity as a wireless and standalone headset that still plugs into a more powerful computer while playing games like Half-Life: Alyx.
With Sony releasing the PSVR 2 in February 2023, there’s a feeling Microsoft won’t want to miss out on this emerging market by developing its own consumer-friendly headset. The potential to change the experience of her games can also be huge. Imagine how more immersive Microsoft Flight Simulator would be when you’re in the cockpit looking at literally anywhere in the world.
We’ve seen a similar impact on PSVR, though admittedly held back by less than impressive technical specs. Nevertheless, it made for an even more realistic experience in Gran Turismo Sport (and we hope Gran Turismo 7 gets VR support for PSVR 2 when it comes out). Even Minecraft supports PSVR, one of Microsoft’s biggest first-party games.
Nevertheless, this new generation of console has a lot of untapped potential. However, Microsoft would have to act fast if it doesn’t want to be left behind when it comes to virtual reality.
Why you shouldn’t expect VR on the Xbox Series X|S
However, despite the potential of VR, the market remains rather niche. It’s one that Microsoft might just want to avoid, fearing a potentially small return. When it comes to power, there is no doubt that the Xbox can run VR games. However, when brought up, the main concerns of Gaming CEO Phil Spencer highlight why the platformer owner is not yet ready to bring VR to their consoles.
In 2017, following the reveal of the Xbox One X at E3, Spencer appeared in Giant bomb video (opens in a new tab) where he discussed the lack of VR on Xbox. While he said he was “a believer in the category,” he had reservations about its usefulness in the living room, especially with wires.
This barrier may have been removed over the years as the PSVR 2 only required a single cable and eliminated the need for an external camera. Meanwhile, the Meta Quest 2 is fully wireless, but when it comes to processing power, it’s also one of the weaker headsets on the market.
Spencer hasn’t ruled out that Microsoft will get to the point where it invests in VR, but Xbox owners probably shouldn’t expect a dedicated headset (or third-party headset support) any time soon. At least not until the next generation of consoles, when prices, audience coverage and the problem with cables will be solved.
Can you use VR with Xbox Series X|S?
Xbox Series X|S does not officially support any VR headset. Although the news discovered by Italian Xbox users (opens in a new tab) in 2021, there was a pop-up saying “VR headset update available” when connecting an Xbox wireless headset, Microsoft has since dismissed the rumor as a translation error. There is also currently no Xbox software that supports any VR modes.