We’re still expecting Microsoft’s Xbox One X console to get VR support at some point down the line, but the company doesn’t want to “distract” developers with integration in 2017.
Albert Penello, Senior Director of Product Management and Planning at Microsoft, said as much to Wired in a recent interview. “We learned with Kinect and the Wii that just translating a typical game experience to VR is not a winning strategy,” he said. “It’s the oddball VR-specific stuff that makes it sing. It wasn’t something we wanted to distract developers with this year.”
When Xbox One X was first announced in 2016 Head of Xbox Phil Spencer stated the console would be capable of “high fidelity VR”. The technology wasn’t even mentioned at the console’s full unveiling a year later, though, leading to some confusion. From what we can gather, Microsoft will be bringing what it calls “mixed reality” to Xbox One X in 2018, but with what experiences and what headset we still don’t know, though there have been hints that it will be a wireless device.
Penello later added: “But VR has so much potential. Is it a viable consumer product? For a certain size of audience.”
As it stands, Xbox One X is capable of running certain Xbox One games in 4K resolution, though it’s not to be considered the true successor to that console. Presumably the company wants its developers to focus on 4K support right now before appealing to the VR crowd later on. It has promised that VR support is still coming, though.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is just a week away from launching Windows 10 VR headsets on PC in partnership with companies like Samsung, Dell and HP. These headsets use inside-out positional tracking, meaning they don’t require external tracking sensors as seen on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It’s possible that Microsoft’s treatment of that platform will reflect what VR looks like on Xbox One X, so anyone interested should be paying attention.
Hopefully we’ll see Microsoft get a little more decisive about Xbox One X and VR next year, then. The console launches next month.