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.

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


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!