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.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Joshwa Sanders

    A VR announcement would have guaranteed an Xbox One X purchase from me.

    • MosBen

      I picked one up anyway because I got one for $100 off and I can still sell my original Xbox One for another $150-$200. Honestly though, I was really super hoping for a VR announcement.

  • MarquisDeSang

    XboneX is not powerful enough for VR, it’s just specs on paper, no real horsepower. Old PS4 can do VR at 120fps, but XboneX is probably limited to 60fps at only 1 render pass and since you need 2 for both eyes that would mean 30fps per eyes.

    • MosBen

      The One X is more powerful than the PS4 Pro, let alone the original PS4. Why do you think that it’s not capable of VR when the original PS4 is?

      • MarquisDeSang

        If it could, it would. Do you think MS would purposefully kill the future of Xbox because no one will invest in a console that has no future (it doesn’t even have a present)

        • Xron

          Xbox One X: 6 TFLOPS, 326GB/s, 12GB GDDR5

          PS4 Pro: 4.12 TFLOPS, 218 GB/s, 8GB GDDR5

          Xbox One X: 8-core, 2.3GHz processor

          PS4 Pro: 8-core, 2.13GHz processor

          Xbox has power of a mid level gaming pc. They are using slighty oc’ed rx480.

          • MarquisDeSang

            Proof that those are just numbers and nothing more. Useless numbers if you can’t even VR while PS4 and Oculus Go can with 1/10 of those numbers.

        • MosBen

          That doesn’t make any kind of sense. We know what kind of hardware is considered necessary for running VR on PC, we know what kind of hardware is running a PS4 and PS4 Pro, and we know what is inside an Xbox One X. It is capable of running VR. It simply is. That’s part of why it’s interesting that MS doesn’t seem very interested in putting out a VR HMD for it.

          • Laurence Nairne

            I wouldn’t worry about this guy, he just likes to be a contrarian. I was waiting for him to mention Oculus Go, which is his latest fetish.

      • y0gabagaba

    • Eddie Barsh

      What an idiot…. “The Xbox one X can’t run VR.. But a reguregular PS4 that’s half as powerful as the X can tho…. Smh. Either youre trolling or incredibly stupid

    • y0gabagaba

      It’s way more powerful than the min spec needed to run VR on PCs.

      Also the PS4 and PS4 pro are underpowered compared to the 1 X. In every way. Even the PS4 pro can’t render in real time 4k unlike the xbox one x

      The
      problem is they don’t know what to do about coffee tables, long fat
      huge cords from an entertainment center to your thead, and spacial
      recognition.

      Once they figure out wireless VR thats when it will launch.

      PS4
      vr is a cool gimmick but that’s all it is. Its not a new way of gaming
      just a cool break from the norms.

      and we already know what happens when cool tech
      becomes a gimmick, its called the kinect. They are trying to avoid
      another one of those.

      • MosBen

        I mean, PS4 VR has sold, what, 2 million units and is evidently still selling games at a reasonable pace? I mean, sure, it’s still something of a niche, and you won’t hear me disagree that current PC VR setups are better, but it does seem like a gamble that is at least nominally paying off for Sony. It does seem like they’re really waiting for a really solid wireless solution before jumping in, but they could definitely do something good with the One X, and it’s a bummer that it seems like they aren’t going to.

        It is interesting to wonder about what’s coming though. At E3 MS alluded to working on new consoles in their pipeline. Given that the One X was supposed to signal a break from the traditional console generations, with new hardware simply allowing for more powerful hardware but no breaks in compatibility, will the future Xbox VR work on the One X, but be primarily intended to work with whatever comes next?

  • Eddie Barsh

    I’m appalled by xboxs disgusting stance on VR… I sold my Xbox to get a ps4 pro to run VR (best decision I ever made BTW) because zbox refuses to get their head out of their ass.. Like the guy below me said… If they announced VR I would have brought an X totomorrow but w no games and no VR why should anyone leave Sony for Xbox?! what a pitiful stance on vr

    • flamaest

      I agree, Microsoft has been paying lip service to VR for years and they fail to deliver every year. I was excited when the Oculus Rift cv1 was announced with a Microsoft controller in the Box. Alas, nothing came of this, and even Microsoft made big promises at E3 and never delivered. Disgusting.

  • Grey Lock

    Was hoping for XBOX VR announcement – sad they punted on it

  • A VR Enthusiastic

    Hey Microsoft,

    We all know that you can be better than that.

    But, we still keep faith in you.

    Regards,

  • PJ

    Despite the lack of an Xbox VR, thats was the best Microsoft showing in years. Maybe Microsoft are waiting to perfect wireless and inside out tracking technology.

    I predicted that Microsoft were going to announce that the WMR headsets would be compatible with the Xbox, alas I was wrong

  • VRfun

    I really am surprised about MS’ decision going forward with information regarding VR on their console. Watch next yr ealy we’ll get a VR announcement for XboneX when console sales start to wane. Sony has practically come out and tell us there isn’t any new console for at least 3 yrs. Which means, what do you think MS will do. Not much can come out to force people to go and buy a new Xbox unless thry release info about VR capabilities. Just wait til next yr. They are doing this for the people who don’t have console yet, not because they care for the current owners.

  • Brian Burgess

    Sounds like Microsoft is basing their VR plans for consoles on where they are presently in the console race i.e. third place.

    It’s obvious they do not feel a push for VR is worth the investment on their present console, and are most likely saving it for the next console for which they have a chance to attract customers with VR headset technology that is more impressive than the WMR sets they have already released.

    Considering the slow adoption rate of their WMR headsets, Microsoft has probably considered that WMR compatibility for Xbox One X would not help either platform at this point and would tarnish the announcement of much more impressive headset tech compatibility down the line.

    How much more exciting it will be when Microsoft announces a new, more powerful console that is compatible with wireless VR headsets that have a higher resolution screens. Heck, maybe the headset will be a dedicated console headset made specifically for the newest Xbox console ala PSVR. It will be an interesting wait.

    • Kisshot

      They are second not third

      • Brian Burgess

        Not for long. Nintendo Switch, at the rate it is selling, will over take it.

  • TheSlythe

    This seems like a wierd decission. I understand them not wanting to invest much in proprietry headset and games, but it would be their best bet to one up on Sony.
    They could easily make Occulus, or Vive work on it, and all multiplat games could run best (for a console) on Xbox1X, with the best controlls.
    If it was exclusive to XB1X, that would also give people a reason to upgrade, or jump from Sony

  • Colten

    Why is anyone surprised? They force bundled Kinekt only to not support and inevitably kill it. They promised Hololens only to remove it from their site. And then any hyped exclusives like Scalebound were purposefully yanked AFTER the holidays to avoid lost profits.