Faced with the release of PlayStation VR later this year, Microsoft is reportedly exploring a deeper partnership with Facebook that would bring full Oculus compatibility to a future version of the Xbox One.
A report by Kotaku outlines a slimmer Xbox One to be announced at E3 for 2016 with a more powerful system technically capable of running the Rift planned for 2017 as part of a multi-year effort to align the Xbox and Windows platforms. It should be noted that if this planned system meets the specifications to run the Rift, it should also be capable of running the HTC Vive.
Oculus first announced a partnership with Microsoft before E3 2015, with Oculus including an Xbox One controller with each Rift and Microsoft bringing Xbox games to Facebook’s headset in a virtual home theater via streaming technology.
Xbox is a more closed system than Windows, though, with Microsoft operating as a toll-taking gatekeeper for content released on it. On Windows, Steam and Oculus offer stores full of made-for-VR content. Valve and Facebook collect cash for each app sold through those PC-based stores. Disagreements about the differences between Windows and Xbox, particularly in relation to whether Microsoft takes a cut of sales, could undermine any talks bringing Oculus, Steam or any other digital store to the Xbox.
The cost of hardware capable of driving experiences on the Rift and Vive is coming down quickly, with NVIDIA’s newest graphics cards coming to PCs this year and making more graphically intense VR experiences possible. By next year, much cheaper chips from NVIDIA or AMD could power next generation console graphics while being more than powerful enough to also drive SteamVR or Oculus VR experiences.