VR on Xbox One: Microsoft’s console virtual reality plans come to a strange end

After almost two years of avoiding questions about its console VR plans, Microsoft seems to have finally confirmed that it is not expecting to bring either virtual or mixed reality to its Xbox One consoles. 

The news came via a statement given to CNET in which the company said, “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. We have nothing to share about MR for console at this time.”

In a further interview with Gamesindustry.biz, the company’s chief marketing officer said, “We don’t have any plans specific to Xbox consoles in virtual reality or mixed reality…PC is probably the best platform for more immersive VR and MR…but as it relates to Xbox, no.”

The comments bring to an end a two-year saga in which Microsoft started by making grand promises about VR on consoles, before following it up with a mixed reality announcement, and then quietly shelving the plans entirely.

Join us as we chart Microsoft’s strange and contradictory messages about console virtual reality.

Mixed messages

June 2016: Microsoft announces the Xbox One X as ‘Project Scorpio’, a futuristic console that will be capable of running games in native 4K and delivering “high fidelity VR”, according to Microsoft’s Phil Spencer.

March 2017: Microsoft announces a new family of ‘mixed reality’ headsets for Windows 10, and says that they’ll be coming to Project Scorpio in 2018.

June 2017: Microsoft formally renames Project Scorpio Xbox One X at E3 2017, with zero mention of virtual or mixed reality. Instead the focus is all about resolution.

November 2017: The Xbox One X officially launches with no mention of VR. When asked directly about it, Xbox executives say that the focus is still PC VR. Speaking at an Xbox event in San Francisco, Hololens creator Alex Kipman said, “We just don’t believe, right now – that the state of the art of what VR can do in the living room, from the headsets to the wires to the state of wireless, that as such – it’s an enjoyable experience.”

However, Kipman still indicated that VR might still one day come to the Xbox, “Over time absolutely, we’ll have it on Xbox, but we have nothing new to announce today.”

June 2018: Microsoft confirms it doesn’t have “any plans specific to Xbox console in virtual reality or mixed reality”.

It’s always sad when functionality gets cancelled for a device, but it’s not exactly an unexpected move from Microsoft. VR hasn’t quite delivered on its initial promise. High headset costs and space constraints have kept the user base relatively low, and high budget games still aren’t appearing on the platform in massive numbers.

Still, Microsoft isn’t quite saying it never plans to bring VR to consoles, but we think at this point it would be misguided to expect it anytime soon.

Do you think the Xbox One X should have launched with VR? Let us know @TrustedReviews.

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