Ever since PlayStation released its VR headset in 2016, gamers have been wondering if we’ll ever be able to see Xbox-exclusive VR Headsets. However, until now, no concrete plans have been released for Microsoft’s plan to step into the gaming VR hardware category, as they are currently focusing on developing immersive games.
VR gaming is expected to reach $2.4 billion by 2024, indicating the tremendous growth in this industry. As demand for immersive VR games is increasing exponentially, many gamers are questioning why the latest Xbox series X does not support VR.
Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, also stated in 2021 that there are no plans for creating VR hardware for Xbox. Instead, the company believes that Microsoft’s cloud software is pivotal in establishing its gaming ecosystem and that VR software would be a better category to focus on.
- VR Headsets allow users to step into customized virtual environments by wearing hardware that combines various sensors with stereoscopic displays. They can be utilized for gaming, learning and entertainment purposes.
- These headsets play a significant role in the Metaverse by helping users step into “virtual worlds” to provide immersive experiences.
- Microsoft has yet to indicate any plans to release an Xbox VR Headset soon, despite their competitors’ success with their VR hardware.
- Instead, Microsoft is focusing on launching an Xbox Cloud Gaming Integration that would make the Game Pass Library available on the MetaQuest2.
- Xbox’s unconventional approach to leverage their cloud gaming on other headsets may pay off in the long run as it allows them to focus on other important milestones.
- Prior to their partnership with Meta, gamers were utilizing the Xbox Companion App on their PC to use a VR headset to play games, but this was causing significant lagging issues in the games.
What Is a VR Headset?
A VR Headset is simply a high-definition display that allows users to immerse themselves in virtual environments to connect, play, work, shop and much more from a first-person perspective. These headsets transform the user’s current surroundings with a customized virtual environment that contains 3D objects and much more.
These experiences can be highly engaging and allow users to experience VR from any location. For example, you can sit in your house and ride a roller coaster by simply wearing a VR Headset or while playing games; you can fight off monsters using your VR Headset and controllers.
VR headsets utilize a combination of sensors such as high-definition displays, accelerometers, magnetometers, cameras and more. Most VR headsets come with controllers that allow users to move around and interact with virtual environments; however, modern headsets also include hand-tracking features. This eliminates the need for controllers and provides more freedom to users. The headset also features 3D audio, thus enhancing immersion.
Evolution of VR Headsets
Virtual Reality has been around for years, but VR Headsets have always been expensive, bulky and uncomfortable. However, now those VR Headsets have transformed into smaller versions, lightweight headsets, smartphones and others. These are cheaper and provide much better features than earlier models.
Will an Xbox VR Headset be Unveiled in 2023?
The Xbox makers have clearly stated that they focus more on the gaming software than on the hardware. So far, they have no plans of creating a separate headset for Xbox. However, that does not mean that the users cannot enjoy the Xbox on VR headsets. It is expected that in the coming years, the Xbox Cloud Gaming will soon be coming to the Quest 2 VR headset.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that the Xbox Cloud Gaming Beta version will soon be coming to the market and will be able for the Meta Quest Platform. Even though Meta Quest will not be an Xbox VR Headset, it can stream Xbox games directly and connect with the Xbox controller so users can enjoy the games to the fullest that are compatible with being played over the cloud. These will include the games from the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate library, which the gamers can enjoy over high-definition VR screens.
This feature is expected to launch in 2023, but there has yet to be an exact date. It is anticipated that this transformation will make accessing the Xbox controller, the Quest headset, and games that are compatible with the cloud and available through Xbox Game Pass easy with only a single requirement of a steady internet connection which will connect all three.
What is the Future of Xbox Gaming?
The future of Xbox Gaming is very exciting, as VR enthusiasts will soon be able to access Microsoft’s extensive library of games through their collaboration with Meta. The Xbox gaming application will be brought to Microsoft Edge, Windows 11 and Samsung Smart Televisions. While we might not have much to look forward to in terms of Xbox VR headsets, their unique approach towards focusing solely on software indicates that we can expect a lot more in terms of accessibility and interactive gameplay.
1. Xbox Application to Samsung Smart Television
The Xbox App was released on Samsung Smart TVs in 2022, enabling gamers to play thousands of cloud-based games without needing a console. This entails free Fortnite and access to thousands of titles in their Game Pass Ultimate collection. The Xbox gaming experience on Samsung’s 2022 Smart televisions has received great reviews due to its smooth operation compared to other television broadcasting applications.
All you have to do is open the Xbox application from the Samsung Media Hub or Gaming Hub, sign in with your Microsoft account, and then connect your preferred Bluetooth controller. You can access many fantastic cloud-based games if you own a Game Pass Ultimate membership, or you can enjoy Fortnite without one.
2. Expanding Xbox Cloud Gaming
Currently, Xbox Cloud Gaming is made accessible to users in Argentina and New Zealand. To fulfil demand and expand the number of individuals who can access gaming.
Subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in Argentina and New Zealand get access to thousands of games. This is done through the cloud. Which they can experience on Windows personal computers, Xbox Series X and S and Xbox One consoles, iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and soon on Samsung smart televisions thanks to their launching partner.
Argentina and New Zealand gamers may enjoy Fortnite with Xbox Cloud Gaming without any costs and even a subscription, much like gamers in other nations.
3. New Gaming Experiences on Windows 11 and Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge is constantly being developed to satisfy gamers’ requirements and provide universal access to gaming. The PC version of Microsoft Edge will soon receive unique latest gaming capabilities, including certain Xbox Cloud Gaming functionalities, such as:
- An innovative, customized gaming home page with updates, some gaming tips, different live broadcasts, video game highlights, competitions, forthcoming and newly published titles, and the Xbox Cloud Gaming library with quick access to currently played games and related information.
- Playing via the Microsoft Edge browser on Windows enhances the visibility and sharpness of cloud-based games. Microsoft Edge’s latest Games menu makes it simple to experience free, well-known games like Microsoft Solitaire, Microsoft Jewel, Atari Asteroids, and the browser-exclusive Surf game while also introducing users to new ones.
- Immediately reduce the number of resources the browser uses when playing PC games on Windows 10 and 11 to enhance the gaming experience and keep it operating quickly and smoothly by enabling efficiency mode
For an improved gaming experience, Windows 11 will soon receive new updates:
The Windows Insider program is presently testing enhancements for windows based games. These are intended to reduce latency significantly and open up more fun gameplay features like Auto HDR and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate).
Gamers can enhance the color precision and uniformity of existing HDR displays using forthcoming HDR calibration software. Gamers may explore and find games from Game Pass and return to previously played games using the Game Pass Widget.
The gamepad bar includes buttons for popular game launchers. Such as the Xbox application, and a list of the latest previous games. Gamers may return to their games or join Xbox Cloud Gaming. Via the control bar without using a mouse or keyboard.
4. Xbox Game Pass Membership Advancements
The Xbox Game Pass offers subscribers access to a massive library of games to explore. This includes new titles and also is the first place where forthcoming titles are released. In 2023, the initiative will spread out. First concentrating on giving independent creators from all over the globe more opportunities to increase interest in their games. Interested developers will be able to monitor the performance of their demos and get payment. Thus allowing them to express their creativity on Xbox and connect with new users through Game Pass.
5. The Xbox Design Lab
Rising interest in customization options makes Xbox Design Lab popular among gamers. It allows gamers to express their individuality and creates unlimited combinations of controller options.
Users can personalize different parts of the controllers such as the thumbsticks, buttons and the backplates. Microsoft could expand the lab to include other hardware accessories such as carrying cases, charging stands etc. Another exciting feature that could be added is the ability to upload your own customer designs, images or artwork.
How Will Xbox’s Approach to VR Affect The Metaverse?
The Metaverse focuses on providing immersive experiences through predesigned 3D virtual environments. VR headsets are thus a significant building block for the Metaverse because they allow users to immerse themselves into the virtual realm and experience it from a first-person perspective.
Xbox’s approach to their VR strategy offers another unique key benefit to the Metaverse, i.e., making it accessible to a broader range of users through their cloud gaming service. This eliminates the need for powerful local hardware such as consoles, and users will be able to simply experience virtual environments within games through VR headsets. This will give users access to the massive library of Xbox games.
Furthermore, the company’s VR vision is clear, with Microsoft heavily investing in the Metaverse. They aim to “blend” virtual and augmented realities to create a shared, interconnected world. The cloud gaming aspect is a fundamental part of this vision, as it allows Microsoft to provide high-end VR experiences by leveraging hardware that is already developed.
Apart from the gaming aspect, Microsoft is also working dedicatedly on their version of “mixed reality” through their MR headset, i.e., the Hololens 2. The headset is much pricier than other simple VR headsets because it offers much more unique features, such as the ability to overlay 3D virtual objects in a user’s physical surroundings. These objects can also be interacted with, thus creating an impression of “mixed” reality.
Xbox Series X
The Xbox Series X is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s gaming console and represents a significant upgrade over its predecessor, the Xbox One. It was released in November 2020 and has been received positively by critics and gamers alike.
Design and Hardware:
Because of its cutting-edge design, the Xbox Series X stands out from the crowd. It has a tall, rectangular shape that looks more like a small tower PC than a traditional console. It measures 30 centimeters in height and 15 centimeters in width. It weighs 4.4 kilograms, which is very light. The matte black finish gives the console a sleek and sophisticated feel.
Under the hood, the Xbox Series X boasts some impressive hardware. It features a custom AMD Zen 2 CPU with eight cores running at 3.8GHz. It also includes a custom RDNA 2 GPU that delivers 12 teraflops of processing power. The console has 16GB of GDDR6 memory, providing lightning-fast loading times and allowing for incredible graphics and smooth gameplay.
The Xbox Series X offers a wide selection of games, including many popular titles such as Halo, Gears of War, and Forza Horizon. New and exclusive games are also part of the package. One of the biggest benefits is that the console is backward compatible with many Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, allowing players to revisit old favorites while enjoying the performance benefits of the new hardware.
User Interface and Experience:
The Xbox Series X features a new user interface that is both fast and intuitive. The home screen provides quick access to games, media, and apps, making finding what you’re looking for easy. Quick Resume is a unique feature exclusive to the console that enables instantaneous game switching. Thus, users can easily pause games, work on other items, and then return to a fully loaded game ready to play.
Xbox Series S
The Xbox Series S is a smaller, budget-friendly version of the Xbox Series X. It was released alongside the Xbox Series X in November 2020. It is aimed at gamers who want a next-generation gaming experience without breaking the bank.
Design and Hardware:
The Xbox Series S is significantly smaller than the Xbox Series X, with a height of 27.5cm and a width of 15.1cm. It weighs in at a considerably more manageable 1.93 kg. The console has a sleek, all-white design and a circular vent on the top.
The Xbox Series S features an AMD Zen 2 CPU with four cores running at 3.6GHz and an RDNA 2 GPU that delivers four teraflops of processing power. It comes with 10GB of GDDR6 memory, which provides fast loading times and impressive graphics. The console supports up to 1440p resolution at 120fps, making it ideal for gamers who have a high-refresh-rate monitor.
Like the Xbox Series X, the Xbox Series S offers many games, including popular titles such as Halo, Gears of War, and Forza Horizon. New and exclusive games, like the much-anticipated Halo Infinite, are also part of the package. The console is also backward compatible with many Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, allowing players to revisit old favorites while enjoying the performance benefits of the new hardware.
User Interface and Experience:
The Xbox Series S features the same user interface as the Xbox Series X, which is fast and intuitive. It makes it simple to find the entertainment, video, and software you seek. This console also features the Quick Resume feature, allowing instant game switching.
Xbox VR Alternatives
Although Xbox has yet to develop its dedicated virtual reality (VR) headset, several alternatives can provide an immersive VR experience for gamers.
- MetaQuest 2
The Meta Quest 2 virtual reality headset is one of the most popular headsets on the market due to its robust functionality, reasonable price, and user-friendliness. The VR headset is priced at $399 / £399, offers a resolution of 1832 x 1920 per eye, a 90-degree field of vision, and a refresh rate of 120 Hz. It is suitable for both portable and desktop use. One of the biggest benefits of this headset is its compatibility with Xbox One, Series S/X, and Oculus Touch controllers.
The Meta Quest 2 has a lot going for it, such as an extensive library of high-quality games, a wireless and portable design, and a low price. This makes the headgear an excellent choice for those seeking a stress-free entry into the world of virtual reality gaming and those who do not wish to spend a fortune doing so.
The compatibility of this headset with PC VR games is a notable feature that allows players to try out a more comprehensive range of titles.
- PlayStation VR2
The PlayStation VR2 is Sony’s latest virtual reality (VR) headset, that offers access to large library of PlayStation games. It’s a convenient and affordable way to get started with virtual reality gaming, and it works only with PlayStation 5 systems.
The PlayStation VR costs between $549 and has a resolution of 2000 by 2040 for each eye, a field of vision of approximately 110 degrees, and a refresh rate of 120Hz.
One of the PSVR2’s most vital points is its collection of unique games. The game library covers a wide range of genres and interests. The system’s compatibility with PlayStation devices makes installation and operation a breeze. PlayStation fans who want to immerse themselves in the immersive world of virtual reality gaming should consider the PSVR2, despite its high price compared to other VR headsets on the market.
- HTC Vive Cosmos
HTC’s Vive Cosmos VR headset is a high-end virtual reality headset that offers an immersive and customizable virtual reality experience. With its emphasis on high-quality images and precise tracking, the Cosmos is intended to appeal to a wide range of users, from gamers to professionals.
The HTC Vive Cosmos offers a sharp and detailed display with a resolution of 1440 x 1700 per eye for a lifelike virtual reality experience. It has a refresh rate of 90 frames per second and a field of vision of 110 degrees. If you want precise tracking and simple controls, the Vive Cosmos controllers, fully compatible with the headset, are the way to go.
One of the HTC Vive Cosmos’ most distinguishing features is its modular design, which allows users to tailor and improve their virtual reality setup as new parts and accessories become available. With this feature, the headset can quickly adapt to the rapidly changing VR industry.
Because of its compatibility with Viveport and SteamVR platforms, the HTC Vive Cosmos has access to a wealth of content. They offer users various games and apps to suit multiple tastes and purposes.
- Valve Index
The Valve Index virtual reality headset was developed by the company that created the popular Steam platform. The Index is a high-end VR headset designed for serious users who require the best performance, comfort, and overall quality.
With a resolution of 1440 x 1600 per eye, the Valve Index produces crisp and detailed images that contribute to a more realistic simulation. The headset has a 130-degree field of vision and a refresh rate that can be adjusted between 80 and 144 hertz, allowing users to tailor their experience.
The Index Controllers, also known as “Knuckles,” are finger-tracking controllers that are a distinguishing feature of the Valve Index. They offer high precision and intuitive control, allowing users to interact with virtual environments in a more natural and immersive manner.
The Valve Index provides SteamVR users access to various virtual reality (VR) games and experiences. The headset can be further customized and expanded using HTC Vive base stations and accessories.
- HTC Vive Flow
HTC has designed the Vive Flow, a one-of-a-kind VR headset, with convenience and accessibility in mind. The Vive Flow, a lightweight headset that looks like a pair of glasses, is designed for casual use, media viewing, and unwinding rather than intense gaming.
Users can enjoy sharp, detailed images while immersed in virtual reality thanks to the HTC Vive Flow’s 1600 by 1600 resolution. The headset’s 75 Hz refresh rate and 100-degree field of vision makes it ideal for various applications.
One of the HTC Vive Flow’s main selling points is its tiny, glasses-like shape, which makes the headset easy to wear and transport. Because of its onboard processing power, the headgear can be used without a computer or mobile device. This new functionality allows users to experience VR content without additional equipment or complicated configurations.
The Viveport content platform is compatible with the HTC Vive Flow. It offers a hand-picked selection of experiences ideal for unwinding, meditating, playing casual games, and other light-duty applications. The headset also supports hand tracking, enabling users to interact with the virtual environment without additional controllers.
Will Microsoft release an Xbox VR headset in the coming years?
It is very difficult to tell if Microsoft will change their vision to incorporate VR hardware advancements in the near future. According to statements by the CEO of Microsoft gaming, the company is choosing to expand its Microsoft Cloud Gaming network.
Why is there no Xbox VR Headset yet?
The company is taking a unique approach towards making its place in the VR gaming industry. Instead of creating VR headsets, Microsoft is leveraging its existing massive library of games to make it compatible with MetaQuest2. This approach will maximize their accessibility, and they would be able to focus on developing core software for the gaming industry.