Back in 2016, at the E3 reveal of the Xbox ‘Project Scorpio’ (which would go on to become the company’s flagship Xbox One X), Microsoft said the console would bring “high fidelity VR” to Xbox. But after backpedaling from those plans, today marked the second E3 without a peep from the company about VR on the Xbox One X, even while touting a deep investment in the future of the platform, and continuing a VR push on its PC platform that’s isolated from Xbox.
We weren’t exactly surprised not to hear any significant announcements about VR from the Xbox E3 presentation today. After announcing in 2016 that the Xbox One X would offer VR capabilities, and even announcing a VR game that would be coming to the console, they later backpedaled, indicating that one major roadblock to VR on Xbox was the ability to offer a fully wireless experience.
But with Sony in the lead in console sales, and the PSVR bringing in hundreds of millions in revenue and new gamers that are being left on the table by Xbox, we figured they might at least consider VR worth mentioning when they talked about their commitment to investing in future technology for the platform (especially considering that Microsoft has already entered the VR game on the PC side). Alas.
Xbox head Phil Spencer capped off the company’s E3 presentation today with a bold glimpse of the future of Xbox technology and content:
In this significant moment, we are constantly challenging ourselves. Our answer? We commit and harness the full breadth of our resources at Microsoft to deliver on the future of play. Our experts in Microsoft research are developing the future of gaming AI, so the worlds and characters we enjoy will be even more rich and more immersive. Our cloud engineers are building a game-streaming network to unlock console quality gaming on any device. Not only that, we’re dedicated to perfecting your experience everywhere you want to play. On your Xbox, your PC, or your phone. And of course, our hardware team. The same team, that delivered unprecedented performance with Xbox One X, is deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles, where we will once again deliver on our commitment to set the benchmark for console gaming. And let’s talk about our games themselves. We are committed to building an industry leading first party studios organization. And as you saw earlier, we’re making one of our greatest single-year investments in teams by adding five new creative studios. We have committed our team, our company, our technical resources, so we can declare to you today, and next year, and all of the years after that: you will always experience the best in gaming on Xbox.
It’s been less than a year since Microsoft released the Xbox One X, and though it’s just a mid-cycle console refresh, it’s still surprising to hear the company already talking about future “consoles.” The question then, perhaps, is whether or not the Xbox One X will see VR introduced at some point during its lifecycle, or if Microsoft will wait until an entirely new console generation to bring VR to Xbox.