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Even With A Wheel Attached, Oculus Home Requires An Xbox Controller

Racing games are starting to get some traction in virtual reality. When the Oculus Rift launched earlier this year, Project Cars was the only officially supported racing game. The developer behind Assetto Corsa has since resumed development of its VR support, and this week, Dirt Rally was updated with VR support (and subsequently added to the Oculus Home store).

Racing games have always been a popular video game genre, and fans of these games will spend hundreds of dollars on fancy racing wheel peripheral. The real die-hard racers will spend thousands of dollars to build the ultimate racing simulator. Now that VR is supported in some racing games, and likely many more in the future, an Oculus Rift seems like a natural addition to many racer’s setups.

Yesterday, I gave Dirt Rally a try on the Rift and found an issue that frankly shouldn’t exist. Even though my Logitech G920 is a hardwired USB controller, and even though it is a certified Xbox One peripheral with all of the standard controller’s buttons, Oculus Home does not consider the wheel an Xbox Controller. When I first launched the game, the buttons on my wheel weren’t providing any input to the game. I had to use my keyboard to navigate the menus and reach the controller settings, though the wheel was still not available.

I attempted to relaunch the game and reseat the cables from the wheel several times with no change. Next, I turned on my Xbox One controller and started the game. I thought there might be a problem with the game altogether, but it worked just fine with the controller. The wheel was still plugged in, and to my surprise, I found that all of the buttons on the wheel were working, this time, so I proceeded to play the game.

During the second or third race, the game suddenly stopped, and I was presented with a notice that my controller was disconnected. Sure enough, the Xbox Controller had turned itself off for being idle for too long. The wheel was still attached, but Oculus Home was overriding it because the actual controller wasn’t connected.

Once I discovered this issue, I gave Project Cars a try. I’ve only ever played the game through Steam before, so I wasn’t sure if the controller issue would affect it. Sure enough, I was met with the exact same problem. Once the Xbox controller turned off, the game was paused automatically.

Having that happen while you’re in the middle of an intense race is more than just an annoyance that breaks the presence. Racing at high speeds is an intense act that requires razor focus. It’s hard to snap back into that zone when you’ve been pulled out so abruptly.

There’s a simple solution for this problem, but there’s really no reason that you should have to resort to a workaround: Plugging your Xbox One controller into your PC will keep the controller turned on, but Oculus doesn’t provide the micro USB cable necessary to do that. Alternatively, you can use a wired Xbox 360 controller, which Oculus Home accepts as a gamepad. Either way, you’re going to have to provide yet another part after buying an expensive peripheral. A racing wheel should make virtual racing better, not add inconvenience.

To be fair, I’ve had the chance to try only the Logitech G920, so other wheels may work. The G920 should be the most likely to be compatible, though, as it is actually certified by Microsoft as an Xbox One peripheral.

Oculus said that the reason that it included an Xbox One controller with the Rift was so that gamers didn’t have to go out and buy anything else in order to play. It didn’t say anything about making things difficult for gamers who want to go the extra mile with their setup, though.

  • Sakkura
    Seems like just a software oversight. Oculus Home launched with a lot of missing functionality, they're gradually making improvements. Surely a fix for wheels will come along eventually as well, especially now that they've had another high-profile racing game launch its VR mode.
    Reply
  • Jeff Fx
    I wasn't able to get my wheel to consistently work with Project Cars, and I'm not a Rift user at this time. It works great with my XBox One.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    18267255 said:
    Seems like just a software oversight. Oculus Home launched with a lot of missing functionality, they're gradually making improvements. Surely a fix for wheels will come along eventually as well, especially now that they've had another high-profile racing game launch its VR mode.

    They've had since the end of March to address this and haven't. Project Cars was subject to this day one (i'm surprised no one picked up on this before me)
    Bringing public eyes to the subject will hopefully motivate them to fix the problem.

    That seems to have worked for Nvidia's Vive GTX 1080 issues. A fix is coming a week after news broke, but 6 weeks after the cards hit the market.
    Reply
  • John Nemesh
    Wow. This is a glaring oversight and a huge problem. Glad I bought the Vive...it doesn't have this problem!
    Reply
  • 103
    What happens if you don't turn on your controller in the first place and just open the game with the Oculus remote?
    Reply
  • mavikt
    So Faceboook bought Oculues and now Microsoft owns them? What a dissapointment and a failed kickstarter! I hope HTC is an indepedant 'peripheral' maker that doesn't have software engineers put artificial caps on the user experience!
    Reply
  • 103
    18268748 said:
    So Faceboook bought Oculues and now Microsoft owns them? What a dissapointment and a failed kickstarter! I hope HTC is an indepedant 'peripheral' maker that doesn't have software engineers put artificial caps on the user experience!

    What? Microsoft doesn't own Facebook. What "caps" are you talking about?

    Reply
  • Dariel
    My Logitech Momo Steering wheel doesn't have that issue in Project Cars at all. My Xbox controller actually did go to sleep during my game play and I never noticed till after I was done playing. I was able to navigate and all with my steering wheel...
    Reply
  • Sakkura
    18267641 said:
    They've had since the end of March to address this and haven't. Project Cars was subject to this day one (i'm surprised no one picked up on this before me)
    Bringing public eyes to the subject will hopefully motivate them to fix the problem.

    That seems to have worked for Nvidia's Vive GTX 1080 issues. A fix is coming a week after news broke, but 6 weeks after the cards hit the market.

    Yeah, but the reason you posted this article now is because you were testing out Dirt Rally and ran into the problem. The more games, the more people playing, the sooner problems will be noticed. And then that'll hopefully prompt them to fix it quickly.

    I mean, someone else probably already reported this issue, but it might have gotten drowned out by all the other stuff in Oculus Home that needs work.
    Reply
  • edzieba
    That's very odd. Even with the XB1 controller turned off (or even unplugged) you can still launch Oculus Home, and several games & applications, using only the Oculus Remote. If Dirt Rally is demanding the presence of an XB1 controller, then that sounds like a bug on Dirt Rally's end.
    Reply