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Microsoft Throws VR Fans A Bone With Xbox One Streaming

Oculus Rift owners can now play Xbox games in virtual reality (VR) thanks to Microsoft's new Xbox One Streaming app. As the name implies, the app works by making Xbox One and backwards compatible Xbox 360 games playable in the Rift HMD, but this isn't a true VR experience by any stretch. Microsoft is merely allowing people to play Xbox games on a large, virtual screen that floats above the ground of the digital environment of their choice.

Xbox One Streaming was announced in November. The app is part of Microsoft's partnership with Oculus, which ships an Xbox controller with every Rift headset, and it's designed to give people a chance to experience VR gaming for themselves. Here's the rub: Xbox One Streaming requires a Windows 10 PC to function. Rift already supports Windows gaming, and Windows 10 has native support for Xbox controllers, so what's the point in using this app?

That's part of what makes Xbox One Streaming feel like a half-measure to appease gamers who are curious about VR. Between requiring a PC, using the expensive Oculus Rift HMD, and limiting the VR "experience" to a virtual screen floating within a screen, Microsoft is offering the bare minimum required to say that Xbox One offers a VR experience. Compare that to Sony's dedicated VR console, the PlayStation VR.

Microsoft seems to be biding time for "Project Scorpio," which should debut in 2017. That console is expected to include an eight-core CPU with six teraflops of GPU power, as well as backwards compatibility with all Xbox One games, to enable "true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR." Yet we don't have a firm release date, price, nor sense of how exactly Microsoft plans to offer those "high-fidelity VR" experiences when Project Scorpio launches.

Project Scorpio will by all accounts be more capable than its console competitors. Nintendo's Switch is designed around the gimmick of being a hybrid portable and home console, and Microsoft is said to have made Project Scorpio more powerful even than Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro. (Sony also made the baffling decision not to include a 4K Blu-ray optical drive on the PS4 Pro; Microsoft did not make the same mistake with Project Scorpio.)

The problem is waiting for Project Scorpio to arrive. People can only purchase so many game consoles in a two-year span, especially because this generation made its debut just a few short years ago. Nintendo's Switch probably won't cost that much--it's likely to reflect its design and straddle the price range between portable and home consoles--but many people might already have splurged on the PS4 Pro and PSVR to get their gaming fix.

Which leads to Microsoft releasing Xbox One Streaming. The app was originally supposed to debut in 2015, but few people cared that it wasn't available. Yet here we are now, after Sony released PSVR to a warm reception from many gamers, and the best VR experience Microsoft has available to Xbox One owners is a virtual display. The company has big plans for VR that are worth keeping an eye on, but this particular app seems like a stop-gap at best.

  • adgjlsfhk
    headline typo, I believe you meant "Microsoft Bones VR Fans With Thing That Definitely is VR"
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    Sony also made the baffling decision not to include a 4K Blu-ray optical drive on the PS4 Pro; Microsoft did not make the same mistake with Project Scorpio.
    Even the rather-inexpensive Xbox One S already has 4K + HDR Blu-ray support. It's surprising that Sony, creator and champion of Blu-ray, has all but ignored the latest iteration of the media - leaving the likes of MS, LG, and Samsung to support it.

    I'm hoping that Scorpio won't be locked to a single console-only VR headset. If they support PC-compatible headset(s), that would make me more likely to buy one. After all I'll eventually be picking one up for PC. Anyway, the GPU in the Scorpio is unlikely to bring any major surprises beyond lots more horsepower for VR and 4K. But I'm curious to see what they do with the CPU - cat cores still? Or Zen? What clocks?
    Reply
  • bit_user
    18996246 said:
    Sony also made the baffling decision not to include a 4K Blu-ray optical drive on the PS4 Pro; Microsoft did not make the same mistake with Project Scorpio.
    Even the rather-inexpensive Xbox One S already has 4K + HDR Blu-ray support. It's surprising that Sony, creator and champion of Blu-ray, has all but ignored the latest iteration of the media - leaving the likes of MS, LG, and Samsung to support it.
    I assumed this was all about cutting costs so that PSVR could be bundled with Pro. But, so far, the only bundles I've seen are with the non-pro PS4. So, maybe Pro isn't as much about VR as I thought.

    An alternate explanation might be Sony's big push into online streaming. Maybe they see demand low, as the BD 4K disc market is small, and would rather stream you 4k. Sadly, their decision to omit 4k disc support will help fulfill the prophecy of few 4k titles.

    I'm one of the few people I know who actually buys blu rays (I usually get them used or heavily discounted). Most people are content with streaming. Sadly, I don't expect the 4k disc format to have a catalog even 1% as big as 2k blu rays. And those probably aren't even 10% of DVDs.
    Reply
  • chicofehr
    They should make it so you can connect the Rift directly to the xbone. Needing a computer in the middle is stupid and makes it more complicated then it should be.
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    haha... Microsoft is "throwing a bone" by "allowing" users to blah blah blah. WRONG. Anyone willing to accept Microsoft's awful garbage into their home is throwing Microsoft a bone. They need to come to grips with this reality.
    Reply
  • Shaco01
    <quote> Nintendo's Switch is designed around the gimmick of being a hybrid portable and home console </quote>

    Gimmick? Portability is a gimmick? really? I guess laptops are the gimmick of personal computers then, and ipods were the original gimmick for apple.

    You should indicate that it is your opinion when you state things like this as fact. Let the customers decide.
    Reply
  • dbarrade
    Maybe if you look at the number of BD UHD disks available and then at the percentage that aren't actually 4k http://realorfake4k.com/my-product_category/fake/ and then look at the cost of them you will see why Sony are doing the right thing for gamers...
    Reply
  • bit_user
    18997748 said:
    Maybe if you look at the number of BD UHD disks available and then at the percentage that aren't actually 4k http://realorfake4k.com/my-product_category/fake/ and then look at the cost of them you will see why Sony are doing the right thing for gamers...
    That's a pretty big list, but the thing to remember is that there's a lag in quality with each format transition. If you compare the first DVDs to the ones 5 or 10 years later, it's pretty much night and day. Similarly, later blu-rays tend to look much better than early ones.

    Furthermore, by omitting 4k disc support, there's a smaller market and therefore less incentive for studios to master & release real 4k discs.

    The whole way they released Pro was as a premium product. Gamers don't need it to play any PS4 game or use PSVR. You only buy Pro if you want a step up in quality. Therefore, it would've made sense for them to improve all aspects. Of course, whether or not we agree on this doesn't change the reality...
    Reply
  • JakeWearingKhakis
    Lol. So you're saying I can play games on a virtual screen with something strapped to my face to make me hotter, instead of comfortably viewing it on my real tv? All I have to do is introduce lag by streaming it and go through the setup process instead of sitting on the couch and instantly playing?!! SIGN ME UP!!!!!
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    18996338 said:
    I assumed this was all about cutting costs so that PSVR could be bundled with Pro. But, so far, the only bundles I've seen are with the non-pro PS4. So, maybe Pro isn't as much about VR as I thought.
    It's not a cost saving decision. It would save them like a nickel. All the decoding capabilities are there. PS Pro IS about enabling better VR experiences, but they aren't likely to bundle until they're able to bring costs under control.
    18996338 said:
    An alternate explanation might be Sony's big push into online streaming. Maybe they see demand low, as the BD 4K disc market is small, and would rather stream you 4k. Sadly, their decision to omit 4k disc support will help fulfill the prophecy of few 4k titles.
    THIS is the bigger reason. They released UHD, but all the studios charge WAY too much for UHD titles, including Sony. This may have to do with Sony Blu-ray licensing costs. Then the players were insanely expensive. Plus they're pushing 4K streaming hard. When it was first released, the Xbox One S was the cheapest 4K HDR Blu-ray player, only recently undercut by budget models (and even then only by a tiny bit). Whether it's intentional or not, Sony has done all they can to murder the UHD disc format in its infancy.

    Personally I do stream a lot, but when it comes to movies I really like, I do buy some physical media. I know some movie buffs that bought 4K HDR TVs and XB1 S specifically for UHD BDs. So you're not the only one out there... but it is getting rarer. Most people either stream, or they buy discs but they look for cheap "good enough" BDs and DVDs even.
    Reply