The Xbox One X virtual reality headset was nowhere to be found at E3 2017, with Microsoft suggesting that they have no plans to launch a VR headset for the platform in the near future.
When the Xbox One X, then known as the Xbox One Scorpio, was debuted at E3 2016, Microsoft discussed how the system would be capable of pushing out virtual reality. This led to speculation that Oculus, who had previously teamed with Microsoft in order for the Xbox One controller to launch with the Oculus Rift, would be on hand to produce a VR headset for the console. Eventually it was settled that Microsoft was more likely to team it with a VR headset running the Windows Mixed Reality platform; in fact, we were so certain of this that we listed it in our ‘E3 2017 Predictions That We’re Almost Certain Will Come True’ list.
Despite the Xbox One X’s VR capabilities having been a major talking point coming out of E3 2016, at E3 2017 it was a notable omission from Microsoft’s presentation. In fact, the entire topic of virtual reality was completely ignored by the company until YouTube Gaming’s live show, when it was revealed by the Xbox team that they had no information to reveal about VR on the Xbox One X, but that it could be a possibility to one day hook up a VR headset to the console.
This suggests that Microsoft has no immediate plans to launch a VR headset for the Xbox One X, with them only discussing an Xbox One X virtual reality setup as a hypothetical scenario. With many believing that the VR bubble is bursting, and with there now being far less talk about the technology following the launch of the Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, it could be that Microsoft has taken a step back and reevaluated its importance when it comes to selling the Xbox One X. E3 2016 took place while the hype surrounding VR was still going strong, with it now having decreased significantly — this may have led Microsoft to test the water with the Xbox One X before it commits to launching a headset with the console.
Though Sony revealed that the PS VR has sold over 1 million units, they have also failed to support the headset in the months following its release. Its presence at E3 2017 will indicate whether or not Sony has given up on the technology, and Microsoft ducking out of committing to an Xbox One X headset is not good news for the future of VR on consoles. For VR fans this is disappointing news. While the PS VR continues to suffer from a lack of games, it still represents a relatively inexpensive entry point for virtual reality, offering a slice of the VR experience you can get on a gaming PC for a fraction of the price. The Xbox One X looked set to offer a similar experience only more powerful, but Microsoft appears to have given up on the idea, at least for the time being.
With Microsoft struggling to really sell the Xbox One X during their presentation, it’s arguable that they could have benefited from an extra hook such as a VR headset in order to pique viewers’ interest outside of its 4K visuals. However, with the technology being expensive to support, if they don’t feel like it has the legs to benefit the Xbox One X in the long run, then it’s understandable why they decided to no longer make virtual reality as big a talking point this time around. It remains to be seen whether or not the Xbox One X strikes a chord with consumers, but those who were previously interested in the console solely for its VR capabilities will likely want to hold off on purchasing the new system at launch.