VR on Xbox One X, and why you shouldn't expect it anytime soon

Alex Kipman in VR
Alex Kipman in VR (Image credit: Windows Central)

But, where is Xbox One X VR support? Since that initial announcement, Microsoft scrubbed all information about VR from the Xbox One X websites and marketing.

HoloLens creator and Operating Systems Technical Fellow Alex Kipman presented at an array of Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) events in recent years, including one this week that was full of new announcements. Alas, still no Xbox announcements. So what's the deal?

So, where is Xbox VR?

Microsoft Studios unveiled Halo Recruit for Windows Mixed Reality this week.

Microsoft Studios unveiled Halo Recruit for Windows Mixed Reality this week.

At this week's event in San Francisco, Kipman fielded a question from the audience regarding Xbox VR, and his response is not exactly great news for those who might've been looking forward to it:

So, we've been pretty open with our VR strategy on Xbox. And the answer to that one is: when you think about Mixed Reality or Virtual Reality in the living room, to a great extent, the living room is a clean space, where you want wires to be in the right place. We just don't believe, right now – that the state of the art of what VR can do in the living room, from the headsets to the wires to the state of wireless, that as such – it's an enjoyable experience.So, what you have seen us do, is leverage this experience on PC first, where the cords are already in the right place, where the horsepower from the GPU and CPU are in the right place. And over time absolutely, we'll have it on Xbox, but we have nothing new to announce today.

Essentially. what Kipman is saying is that for most Xbox users, who game in the living room, draping wires all over the place isn't a good experience. It would take something wireless to get VR onto Xbox, and for Microsoft, that eventuality might be far in the future, as well. It's also interesting how Kipman called out the GPU and CPU as being in the "right place" on PC, perhaps calling into question whether or not the Xbox One X's customized hardware is optimized for "Ultra"-level WMR.

In a frank conversation with Giantbomb in June, Xbox head Phil Spencer discussed the issues with VR in the living room, echoing most of Kipman's comments while noting that the Xbox One X is at least powerful enough for Windows Mixed Reality:

The power of the box is fine in terms of having a VR or MR experience run on it, it's really that family room environment that we're struggling a little bit with. We're saying ok, let's stay more on the PC where we're seeing action and developer interest until we really get the art form of what it means to create great MR experiences, then it can go to more places.

So, what's it all mean for Xbox and VR?

It's more likely that WMR simply hasn't been built around Xbox One X yet, as the team focuses where VR is today – PC – and until they can perfect and improve the living room experience.

Spencer added that he thinks Microsoft is still a "few years" away from a truly viable wireless solution for Windows Mixed Reality on Xbox. While that might be a conservative estimate considering existing VR platforms are already exploring wireless solutions, it at least shows that this current generation of WMR head-mounted displays (HMDs) from Lenovo, ASUS, HP, and now Samsung, likely won't be the devices you will use to enjoy VR via your Xbox One X in the near future.

Microsoft is all-in on WMR, which comprises the full continuum, from opaque VR headsets to transparent AR headsets like HoloLens and future headsets that can do both. Gaming will form the bulk of quality apps on WMR, at least for consumers, and of course, Xbox has a part to play.

For more information on the recent Windows Mixed Reality announcements, hit the links below.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!