Xbox VR won't be showing up at this year's E3

With Project Scorpio's reveal just a few days away at E3, there was a glimmer of hope that we might also get a look at Microsoft's plans for VR on the console. In an interview with Polygon, however, Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman tempered expectations around any potential look at Microsoft's Xbox VR plans — at least for E3 2017.

For now, Microsoft's focus seems to be purely on making great mixed reality experiences on Windows 10 PCs. That said, Kipman's comments indicate that Microsoft is looking towards the future with an eye toward a completely wireless console VR experience. From Kipman:

Our primary focus is making our mixed reality experiences a success on Windows 10 PCs. We believe that right now a Windows PC is the best platform for mixed reality as its open ecosystem and enormous installed base offer the best opportunity for developers, and Windows offers the most choices for consumers.Windows has been the birthplace of a variety of technologies, and we believe this will hold for mixed reality too. Given the efforts we have underway on Windows for mixed reality, and our belief that console VR should be wireless, right now we are focused on developing mixed reality experiences for the PC, not on the console.

Microsoft previously announced that Windows Mixed Reality experiences would be headed to Xbox One and Project Scorpio at some point in 2018. How, exactly, the company intends to go about those plans is still a bit of a mystery. Hardware partners like Dell, HP, and Acer are all cooking up mixed reality headsets for Windows right now, but all of those require being tethered to a PC to work. If wireless console VR is the goal, a different headset would be required. If Microsoft can pull it off, however, going wireless would give the company a significant leg up over the competition.

Everything we expect from Xbox's E3 2017: Rumors, Project Scorpio, and a whole heap of 4K games

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Another unforced error if 'VR on Xbox' isn't available when Scorpio launches.
  • Not really. Most sales numbers have PSVR, despite launching nearly 7 months ago, at around 1 to 1.4 million sold vs. 60 million consoles sold. That's an abysmal attachment rate of 1.7 to 2.3 percent. In contrast, Kinect sold 8 million units in its first 60 days. Oculus Rift and Vive don't seem to be faring any better. All this means that VR is extremely niche. Most people don't care about it and aren't willing to spend the significantly more dollars needed to have it. Microsoft is wise to not focus on it and, instead, outsource the risk by opening up the platform to third parties and let them flush their money down the drain instead.
  • The huge difference is not the attachment rate, and I believe the PC attachment is much worse. The real difference is how many high quality premium games will be avaiable on your platform. You see the order that they entered into the market is Oculus, Vive, and PSVR, but now PSVR is in the leading position, which Oculus struggles most. Microsoft has both markets of console and PC, which means the union set of PSVR and Oculus/Vive. I hope they can maximize their strengh, and act fast (you know so many stories about what will happen if you are too slow).
  • Of course the PC attachment rate for VR is lower. First, there are 2 or so Billion PCs in use. Some of those are servers, machines that are not designed for VR (ultra books, etc), machines used in the enterprise that are never used for playing games other than the occasional solitare, and so on. PS4 are game only machines, where people would be expected to want to buy VR headsets. Second, VR on PCs are very early. There are some 3rd party devices such as the ones you mentioned, Oculus/Vive. But without it being built into the PC not many people will use them. PS4 has the software built into the machine. Creators Edition has it built in with devices coming soon, meaning the PC is currently at a disadvantage.
  • Yes, MS is wise not to take risks in investing money in new tech for gaming, or investing into gaming studios and making tones of new games. MS is wise to focus on features that makes their "fans" play or rent old games and not focus on making lots of new games. MS is wise to be looking at games as a service...
    MS is wise as they manage to extract more money from customers with a service that has less active users and potentially less games than other online service. MS is wise to have made their gaming system with advertising in mind. Very well done MS.
    While the competition talks of "For the players", I guess their slogan should be "For the investors".
  • a game console without games is kind of useless -- so why not let game developers decide if VR on Xbox is good business.
  • The attach rate of PS VR is actually incredible, the fact that there is more than 1 million means that 1 in 50/60 PS4 owners bought an ad-on that costs more than the console itself. That is insane!
  • The PSVR is constantly selling out of stock in Australia, if they had manufactured more, it would have sold more. I still have no interest personally in VR but it's obvious a lot of people do.
  • To be honest PlayStation products sell on mostly hype and fanboyish sales people, kinda like Apple and Samsung phones. I'm yet to go in a game store where they sold me an Xbox. Heck some sales people here in South Africa will still tell you Xbox still requires you to be constantly online. Just go on a Games R Us page on Facebook and see how much they force PS4 down people's throats when people ask about Xbox
  • Every product sells on hype.
  • Just checked amazon, psvr is available there. Kinect totally killed it back in the 360 days. 1 in 50/
  • That's great, I said in Australia.
  • What home VR (except vive) can bring you (or dev) if the only control scheme is cockpit control scheme? Drive car? Be a bird? Rail shooter? Can someone list a few about what VR can but MR can't?
  • VR is a part of MR, so obviously whatever VR can do, MR can do. MR encompasses AR and VR. At least that's what I'm getting from the discussions about it.
  • Not a big deal. There is lot of work to do to get VR/MR ready to be successful on the Scorpio. Just look at the PSVR after all that hoopla for the device only 1 million PSVR have been sold. That may seem like a lot but that is out 60 million PS4 consoles. This equates to less than 1.7% of all PS4 owners have a PSVR. Most of that 1 million number were done in initial first month or two of sales; the PSVR overall monthly sales have died down quite in the ensuing months. The problem is the content is sparse and most if seems like tech demos you play for a 10 minutes. Microsoft should make sure there are plenty Scorpio devices to support VR when they do release the device. Additionally, Scorpio needs to have great content and these devices will need to work well across the desktop and Xbox.
  • I believe they change their plan recently, because alex pikman clearly says in build 2017 that we some stuff at e3
  • I noticed that too and I'm very surprised that major news outlets aren't pointing that bit of news out. Is there really no VR news coming at E3 anymore or did they simply get misinterpreted.
  • This was the right time to launch it. Any delay is too much delay.
  • And yet another "Microsoft is late to the game" claim. Microsoft has the software built into Windows today. And yet Apple announced yesterday that they will be having VR built into their OS later this year. Microsoft said that their competitor to Amazon's Echo from Harman Kardon will be available in September. Yesterday Apple announced that their device will be available in December. In both these cases Microsoft is being bashed for being too late. "Later" is the word that people like to throw around on this site. And yet, when Apple will have their devices out even later than Microsoft, I have yet to see anyone claim that Apple is too late to the game. In fact, when the issue of the ship date was questioned, it was a good thing because it means that Apple will have more time to make it work right and better than everyone else.
  • What home VR (except vive) can bring you (or dev) if the only control scheme is cockpit control scheme? Drive car? Be a bird? Rail shooter? Arcade would be a good environment for VR but then you will have hygiene problems. Amusement park like Joypolis is much better choice imo. Can someone list a few points about what VR can but MR can't?
  • Don't release anything untill its ready. LEARN from the Surface team!
  • My Surface mini is gonna be the fazizzle then!
  • I don't think this is a big deal because VR is still nothing more than a gimmick from a commercial standpoint. I think they're smart to try and refine their strategy through PCs first since VR still seems far from a guaranteed success. By building a successful platform on Windows, where you have 500+ million users, you'll more easily attract developer attention if it starts to gain traction. If VR was taking off, I would say MS is going in the wrong direction but I think they're approaching this with a path that seems smarter in the long run.
  • Have you used VR? I love my Samsung gear VR. I was really hoping Microsoft wouldn't drop the ball on this. Seems they have
  • What else can a cockpit control scheme provide? Besides car driving? Be a bird? Do some Rail shooter?
    I'm a game programmer @ a major dev btw.
  • Good, VR doesn't interest me.
  • This doesnt bother me much because as a kinect 1, kinect 2 and htc vive user, there is one thing these systems have in common. They require you to get off your butt and burn calories. Like most gamers, i prefer stationary gaming for hours over all of the movement required while playing a vr game like raw data or robot recall. I rarely end a vive session without being covered in sweat.
  • Someone's a fatty
  • Iyae, i see what you did there.
  • 😉
  • Only gonna be any use on a decent install base of Scorpios. Right to wait, let the tech and the install base mature a little.
  • Completely agree.
  • They just don't have the content right now;")
  • I'd like to play a racing game with my Logitech wheel set and a vr type headset. That'd be cool. Where your in the drivers seat and when you look around it moves and such. Well you get the point.
  • Yeah but wouldn't that be better with AR/MR instead of VR?
  • Which ever it will be. I just would like that ability but not cost a fortune to get.
  • True. Is not like VR can provide more than MR can.
  • True enough.
  • Makes sense. Wireless is the way to go. Better to refine a wireless tech, and perhaps work even more on the controllers, and develop a superior experience drawing on software from the PC platform when its released. 
  • I was really hyped before the PSVR and now after the fuss has dies down and I tried my friends VR I'm not. There is very little real contenet out there just mostly demo's and what with the hassle of the wires, little boxes attached, being cut off from the world, sweaty face syndrome it's just not worth it. good to see MS going for the wireless option as it needs that and a whole lot of good games that don't make you throw up. Wireless, high resolution and framerates are need at the minimum.
  • Sad Xbox missed the boat
  • I personally feel like they shouldn't devote any time to showing any hardware. Even Scorpio should only take up 5% of their E3 stage time. The other 95% should be new game after new game. Microsoft must quit playing
  • Good. Was hoping they'd have nothing to do with VR this e3. Or any e3 imo. 
  • Who gives a crap about mixed reality when it comes to gaming? All I want is a VR capable sandbox style game (think GTA, RDR or any of the other franchises already available). Mixed reality is completely different from VR (MS doesn't seem to grasp this though as they are touting their recently released devkit goggles as Mixed Reality when all they are, really, is a VR headset).
  • Like... what VR (except VIVE) can give you? Except being a bird, drive a car or do some rail shotter? If cockpit control scheme is the only option? And is not like VR can provide more than MR... They all shuts you away from the reality, but MR has the ability (thx to the AR tech) to show you your surroundings (if you choose to render it), enables you to navigate around. * And AR is above MR...
  • I'm hoping we learn more about Xbox's VR plans! After trying the HTC Vive and PSVR I gotta say VR is pretty fun. I'm a little disappointed to hear that. It won't be a focus at this year's E 3 MS can't afford to lose anymore ground to the competition.
  • Not buying Scorpio if it doesn't have vr support