When will we see a Microsoft Xbox VR headset? It's a question everyone has been asking since PSVR launched, but until now, the Redmond-based company has been reluctant to officially enter the console's VR realm.
However, it is clear that virtual reality is not a passing fad. The Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as the Oculus Quest 2) is one of the best and most affordable virtual reality headsets on the market since the Meta Quest Pro. Elsewhere, Sony has doubled down on its commitment to virtual reality with the PSVR 2, its next-generation successor to the PSVR, a new VR headset for the PS5.
While there's no concrete word on Xbox VR, the console itself (along with its litany of games and accessories) will no doubt offer discounts during the Cyber sale period. 28 of November. If you're looking for Cyber Monday Xbox deals, be sure to bookmark our pages and check out our Cyber Monday Live blog to be the first to know about the best deals this time around.
Virtual reality gaming has arguably never been more popular, which has inevitably led to speculation about whether or not Microsoft will support the technology on 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 played with an Xbox VR headset. After all, it is officially compatible with VR headsets for PC.
Microsoft also has experience in the virtual reality market with its HoloLens mixed reality headsets. It's not too hard to imagine the idea of licensing Microsoft features with Xbox Series X|S consoles instead of creating a console-only headset like Sony did with the PSVR.
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Xbox VR: ¿es probable?
However, at the insanely high price of $3,500 for the HoloLens 2, the wireless headset isn't consumer-friendly in price, not to mention, as a mixed reality headset, it's not designed to fully immerse you in VR.
However, could Microsoft be preparing to create its own affordable consumer VR headset for Xbox Series X? S? Below we've rounded up all the information and rumors about it, and whether playing Halo Infinite in VR could become a reality in the near future.
Microsoft's history with virtual reality
(Image credit: Microsoft)
Although Microsoft hasn't officially announced that it will make a VR headset for Xbox consoles, it has been involved with the technology in a number of ways. The Kinect designed for the Xbox 360 used RGB cameras and infrared sensors for controller-less motion-sensing inputs, which it also (though unsuccessfully) added to the Xbox One.
It might have been possible to implement this technology with virtual reality, as Sony adapted its PlayStation Move and PlayStation Camera controllers for its original PSVR headsets. Microsoft also collaborated with Valve and HP to design the HP Reverb G2 VR headset, and has also released its own mixed reality headset, the HoloLens.
However, the latter is surprisingly expensive, with HoloLens 2 starting at €3500, making it unfeasible for mainstream gaming. It's not even designed to fully immerse you in VR, as it's a mixed reality experience that leans heavily on AR: Augmented Reality.
However, it was also reported last month that Microsoft had abandoned development of HoloLens 3, casting doubt on its future venture into virtual reality. On the other hand, with increased interest in consumer VR and the Metaverse (something mentioned in connection with its €67,4 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard), it could also be that the company changes direction.
The intention might be to develop a more affordable and easy-to-use VR headset, instead of the expensive HoloLens. This range has so far been focused on professional use, including commercial contracts with the US military. If he were the kingpin, that wouldn't explain why he fought to retain specialized personnel. LinkedIn profiles show that at least 25 mixed-reality Microsoft employees left for Meta in 2021, including several decades-old veterans. However, Microsoft has recently shown interest in this space.
At Meta Connect 2022, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined Mark Zuckerberg to confirm that Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest Pro (formerly Project Cambria). Unfortunately, these games are still a flat-screen experience, so you can't suddenly switch to VR mode for blockbusters like Forza Horizon 5.
Regardless, as long as you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the platform grows slowly over time. It also means that Meta Quest can beat PSVR 2 for one simple reason.
Should virtual reality come to Xbox Series X | S?
(Image credit: Microsoft)
The VR gaming market may be small compared to consoles, with Sony's PSVR selling just 5 million units as of January 2020 (compared to over 110 million PS4 units sold in the past of its life), but it continues to grow. The Meta Quest 2 (or Oculus Quest 2) gained traction as a standalone, wireless headset that can still be connected to a more powerful PC, playing games like Half-Life: Alyx.
With Sony launching the PSVR 2 in February 2023, it looks like Microsoft won't want to miss out on this emerging market by developing its own easy-to-use headset. The potential to transform your gaming experiences could also be enormous. Imagine how much more immersive Microsoft Flight Simulator would be when you're in the cockpit looking at literally anywhere in the world.
We saw a similar impact with the PSVR, though admittedly it was held back by its less-than-impressive tech specs. Nonetheless, it provided an even more realistic experience in Gran Turismo Sport (and we hope Gran Turismo 7 will be VR compatible for PSVR 2 when it arrives). Even Minecraft is compatible with PSVR, one of Microsoft's biggest first-party games.
However, there is a lot of untapped potential in this new generation of consoles. However, Microsoft should move quickly if it doesn't want to be left behind when it comes to VR.
Why you shouldn't expect VR for Xbox Series X|S
(Image credit: Sony Computer Interactive Entertainment)
However, despite the potential of virtual reality, the market remains a niche one. It's one that Microsoft may want to avoid, fearing potentially poor performance. In terms of power, there's no doubt that Xbox can run VR games. Discussing the subject, though, Gaming CEO Phil Spencer's main concerns point to why the platform game owner isn't quite ready to bring VR to its consoles yet.
In 2017, following the Xbox One X reveal at E3, Spencer appeared in a Giant Bomb video (opens in a new tab) where she discussed Xbox's lack of VR. Although he called himself a "category fan," he had reservations about his suitability on the floor, especially on the strings.
This hurdle may have been overcome over the years, as the PSVR 2 requires only one cable and eliminates the need for an external camera. The Meta Quest 2, meanwhile, is completely wireless, but when it comes to processing power, it's also one of the weakest headphones around.
Spencer hasn't ruled out that Microsoft is reaching a point where it invests in VR, but Xbox owners probably shouldn't expect a dedicated headset (or third-party headset support) any time soon. Or, at least, not until another generation of consoles arrives when, hopefully, pricing, audience reach, and the cable issue have been resolved.
Can you use a VR headset with Xbox Series X|S?
The Xbox Series X|S does not officially support any VR headsets. Although a message discovered by Italian Xbox users (opens in a new tab) in 2021 saw a pop-up saying that "an update is available for the VR headset" when connected to an Xbox Wireless Headset, Microsoft has since ruled out this rumor as a translation error. There is also no Xbox software that currently supports VR modes.