Microsoft insider Brad Sams wrote on Thurrott.com, saying that he expects to see new hardware and a new controller at E3. So what hardware could that be? My guess (and hope) is that Microsoft announces a VR capable upgraded Xbox One. To support the Oculus Rift VR headset. I don’t think Microsoft has other options. If Xbox does not do VR, Microsoft will loose gamers who want to enjoy VR. They will switch to a VR platform, and probably stick with it. VR could be addictive as hell and truly the next step in gaming. I am a firm believer that VR indeed is this ‘next step’. It will take the First Person View to a level beyond what has been offered the last 20 years since Doom and Quake. From Doom in the mid 90’s to the latest Call of Duty and Battlefield, you look at a flat screen. 20 years gave us a bit more pixels, but that’s it. But in VR you turn your head. The immersion is on a completely other level. The adage will be ‘Once VR, never look back ~ Max Qubit’
The problem for Microsoft is the price of the hardware to support the Oculus Rift. The lowest price for a ‘Oculus Rift pc’ I saw was around $900. Maybe in 6 months that drops to $750. So Microsoft faces the problem of announcing a $750 Xbox One VR … just to support the Oculus Rift.
A possible way to solve this might be to first announce an Xbox One VR upgrade (supporting Oculus Rift) but toy with the release date. Releasing later means the Xbox One VR can have a less expensive price tag. It might also benefit from a less expensive Oculus Rift, and it would give developers time to build VR support into the Xbox games. I think Microsoft could get away with a 2017 Q2 release of the Xbox One VR without losing an army of gamers to Sony (PSVR) or HTC/Valve (Vive). Most Xbox gamers interested in VR probably would argue ‘Well, I wait a bit longer for the Xbox One VR to arrive instead of switching platform’. My estimated price tag for an Xbox One VR releasing in 2017 Q2 is around $600. Perfectly acceptable for hard core Xbox gamers who want to go VR.
With above strategy, Microsoft would offer a VR upgrade path for Xbox gamers. Eclipsing Sony’s PSVR solution, which is cheaper but also less powerful, by releasing 6 months after Sony’s PSVR, an Xbox One VR system which can handle the Oculus Rift.
Microsoft needs an answer to VR. Above is my suggested move. It is Microsoft’s only option.
* * *
Microsoft is feeling pressure to announce the upgraded Scorpio at this year’s E3 ~ Polygon
In line with what I was suggesting in my post:)
Edit (aug 9, 2017): We now know Scorpio is coming Q4 2017, under the name Xbox X. Somewhat surprising is that Microsoft has stopped talking about VR on Xbox X. Sure they will say Xbox X is VR enabled, but there is no concrete VR available at launch in Q4 2017. Not like, plug in Rift and go. VR on Xbox X will come, but the wait will be longer than I expected.