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Does the Xbox Series X or Series S support virtual reality (VR)?

HP Reverb WMR
HP Reverb WMR (Image credit: Windows Central)

Does the Xbox Series X or Series S support virtual reality (VR)?

Best answer: Sadly, no. Right now, there are no plans to include VR on the Xbox Series X or Series S. At least officially.PlayStation alternative: PlayStation VR (From $230 at Amazon)PC alternative: Samsung HMD Odyssey+ ($500 at Amazon)

So, uh, why not?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Considering Microsoft has its very own VR platform in the form of Windows Mixed Reality, you'd think VR would be a no-brainer on the Xbox platform, including the next-gen Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Sadly, it simply isn't the case for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, Microsoft isn't convinced there's a profitable market for VR as of yet; with attach-rates on the PlayStation VR headset, perhaps the cheapest entry point for the medium remains invariably low. Here's what NPD analyst Mat Piscatella had to say on the topic recently.

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Xbox head Phil Spencer elaborated further on the 1000th episode of GamerTag Radio (which is awesome by the way), offering some more details on the reasons why Microsoft isn't jumping head-first into VR for Xbox Series X.

"We're not going to do that. I understand certain people would want that. We have to focus our efforts on the things we're doing right now. And the most precious resource that we have is the team and their ability. And I just have to focus on the things we're doing right now. [...] VR is not as simple as plugging your headset. You have to redo the dash[board]. There's a bunch of work that goes into it. And the teams at Valve, the teams at Sony, the teams at Oculus that are doing that work. They know the completeness and what it means to support the platform."

Spencer remains optimistic about VR, however, going on to suggest that one day, perhaps it could be a "no-brainer" to bring it to Xbox.

"Obviously VR is big on Windows today. We are the Windows company, and we're never going to close our eyes to where things are going. [...] I hope it gets bigger. I hope it's something that's just so important that there would be a no-brainer for us to support it."

As of May 2020, VR got a big boost thanks to Half-Life: Alyx, but month-over-month growth seems relatively low, with Steam only adding 0.1% more Steam users with VR headsets in the latest Steam survey. The appetite for VR may simply not be there, or we may need to wait for prices to drop, comfort to increase, and other ergonomic improvements before it hits the mainstream. At the very least, it looks like we're not getting VR on Xbox Series X or any other Xbox for that matter, at least in the near-term.

A glimmer of VR hope?

Microsoft Flight Simulator CAP 10

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Despite the fact the Xbox Series X or S hasn't shipped with VR, there might be a glimmer of VR hope, data-mined from the insides of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 on PC.

Recently, we saw code references within Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, which refer to something called "Scarlett VR." The Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S are both parts of the codename family "Scarlett," which refers to the family of consoles and accessories designed for the new generation. If there are code references to something called "Scarlett VR," that, at a bit of a reach, could suggest Microsoft has been experimenting with VR devices for the "Scarlett" generation of console hardware. Of course, it could also be exactly that: an experiment, with no intent to come to the public.

Either way, it's not looking likely we'll see VR on next-gen consoles from Xbox any time soon, so your best options are PC and PlayStation VR instead.

Xbox Series X/S

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Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

26 Comments
  • Consumer behavior and what makes the buying decision is not easy to predict. It is not always practicalities but also what are perceived as nice to have and future possibilities. So if you is undecided and stands between the chooses of buying a Xbox series X and a PS5 and most is in your view more or less equal like price, games on the platform and so on. Would not the added possibility of having VR as an add-on be the thing that could make the decision? Even if it is not that common and a big seller it is promises of possibilities that Xbox now loose. I think while the decision makes sense based on usage it may make xbox less attractive as it loose a potential usage even if that usage never will be realized for that buyer.
  • Don't see why VR couldn't be an option in the future even if it wasn't built with it in mind... If à PS 4 can handle it don't see why a Xbox series X couldn't.... It's just not on the horizon for now... Pretty sure it's also to make sure people are not afraid of a kinect remake next Gen...
  • PlayStation loses money on its VR. Microsoft may allow third party VR head sets, but the options must come with games that makes owning VR. So far there's been ZERO must have games for VR, and the technology having to be tethered to the system does not work well. It needs to be wireless. I rather see Microsoft put money and effort in what's really selling, than start putting effort in what's not. VR has yet to take off, and its been out for a while now, if not adapted, will go in the way of 3DTV's and Kinect. PS4 Sold = 108+ million
    Sony VR Sold = 5 Million
    You do that Math.
  • Sony doesn't lose money on its VR. Microsoft won't allow third-party headsets because if they do, they lose the option of creating their exclusive headset for their console. There's plenty of must have games for VR. I agree that it does need to be wireless and all signs point to Sony's PS VR2 as being wireless. VR isn't going away, it's not a gimmick and it will just get better and better.
  • There are already must have games on VR, RE7 and Astrobot are good examples, and in the future Dreams will also support VR
  • Can you show me evidence that shows that PS loses money on its VR?
    And how much money exactly did they lose?
  • One game alone makes it worthwhile for me; Dirt Rally 2 free on xbox game pass but over $80 on oculus rift
  • Different people different preferences. I'd take BC and my 300+ game library over VR on a PS5 though.
  • I can understand Xbox's decision about VR today. Regardless of the fact I own a Rift S and actually feel VR is a game changer. But just because VR may not be a hit worldwide today doesn't mean it won't be more adopted within the next few years. And the lifespan of these consoles are approximately 7 yrs. So this means no VR inclusion until after 2028? VR is just starting to see the delivery of AAA games now. I can't imagine the games I'll be playing on a Rift in 5 yrs from now.
  • I have a HP WMR headset and I realize that it's one of the crappier ones... but I agree that it's a pretty epic experience, that said, I hate having to deal with cables, I hate wearing a headset, and I hate feeling motion sickness. I'd rather just game on my TV, think it's hard to overcome all those barriers. Hopefully the tech improves.
  • I think one of the reasons 3D tv's failed for the home market was that nobody wants to wear 3d glasses while watching a movie in their living room. Not to mention some people get headaches, eye strain etc from wearing them.
  • Motion sickness... Often it is caused by FPS drops that creates a difference between the game and the display - a difference that isn't obvious or noticeable. The solution is to ensure the GPU is able to drive the 90fps, like a Geforce 1070, and sometimes heavier content might need a Geforce 1080/2070. Even a 60fps display will work well if the PC is properly providing the frame rate without drops and keeping up with the display tracking. The other key here is tracking. Slips in tracking (the other side of fps) can cause extra motion sickness. WMR headsets do better than many assume, often best lighthouse tracking. However, if you have a very modernistic decor with pure white walls and ceiling, throw up a poster or photo or two on those walls or face the other direction. Also, pushing through the sickness will help your ability to not be as susceptible to drops or tracking slips. (Motion sickness occurs when what we see is not aligning with what our ears feel. Our bodies make us sick, as the dissociation between our vision and balance is a symptom of poisoning, and this is why our body tries to make us throw up. A throwback of our 'gatherer' ancestry. *Just knowing this can often help with motion sickness or at least help to identify what you are encountering that is creating this physical response.)
  • I play Dirt Rally on Oculus and its awesome, cant enjoy racing games on Xbox anymore, doesn't compare and I love racing games
  • I don't see why VR couldn't come down the line on the next Gen if they wanted... Those are basically closed build PCs... So it is doable... Now that being said they don't want to do a kinect remake... If they attack VR for mainstream they'll start with PC imo which is where it should expand before reaching the console market...
  • I hope GTA 6 has a vr-mode. Imagine cross play with Xbox players and ps4 players in multiplayer, flat gamers vs. vr-gamers, and that playing the game in vr-mode actually offers advantages for the vr-players :=)))
  • Oh that would be awesome!
  • Maybe a consumer hololense is on the horizon so there going the stand alone route like the quest.
  • Phil Spencer has also said that the wired solution is not acceptable as an experience. It also makes sense to get the launch right and not spread resources too thin. I'm sure the Mixed Reality team are working on these things and a platform already, Xbox would just need to dial in a specification hardware wise. This would mean Kinect technology would return to Xbox in an evolved form.
  • I am still waiting for the next level vr fidelity that he promised for Xbox x...
  • MS and Spencer have been all over the place with this VR and AR stuff. From spending 15 minutes of E3 presentation to hype AR in 2015 that hasn't come to market 5 years later, to announcing VR on their new Scorpio and cancelling the idea the following year.
    I've seen some fanboys initially trash VR and hype AR, then hype VR when it was announced for Scorpio a,d now trash VR again... For me, VR is added option for gamers. Nothing more, nothing less.
    In this case, Spencer is just not willing to do the work needed to give VR to it's customers. Whether it's making their own headset or supporting 3rd party headset. Spencer talks a lot about how innovative they are and all, but here they are clearly behind the rest...
  • I am still waiting for next level vr fidelity for my XboxOneX. I choose it because of his promise...
  • if xbox series x has Usb and hdmi out it can support VR in the future with a firmware updates. Which will happen if there is enough interest in VR.
  • I've used the PS VR headset pretty extensively and while it was cool to begin with I do not have any real desire for Xbox to have one atm.
    I had motion sickness problems, the headset was uncomfortable and hot, the glass got steamed up, we often moved and tore the wires out of the receiver, I got a mild headache after 20 minutes and I didn't like the feeling of being disconnected from the the physical world for extended periods. For me to jump back in the headset needs to be lightweight, wireless, have inside out tracking, a high frame rate and high resolution and have good motion capture or motion controllers and a wide selection of great games. I think all of those are years away especially if it is at a reasonable price. It would be far better for MS to concentrate on it's consoles and first party studio's while keeping an eye on the VR market. In other words I couldn't agree with Spencer more.
  • I agree it's still too niche of a thing plus the experience won't be good enough for mainstream adoption as current VR tech has already shown.
  • The Adoption rate is low, the market is fragmented. The platform is not democratized with every VR plat having it's own launcher, platform, and controls, The vast majority of games and content are just extended tech demos. Cost of entry is still high, and by comparison, while PSVR is the cheapest option, it's also the most limited and terrible in terms of FOM and tracking, Wireless is even more expensive and unproven, and the most options exist on PC, windows being a Microsoft Product. People with the money to invest in VR are going to go to PC anyway, so Microsoft is better to let them invest in that anyway.
  • I don't have VR. I have used it once with my Nephew's Oculus Rift. I had a lot of fun with it. I think VR is a selling point for PS. If you want to try VR, it's cheaper with a PS4/PS5 than anything out there. If you don't know if you want it....but may want the option to have VR, the PS is the only major console to open that door.