There’s no escaping VR within the gaming world at the moment. The new tech is continuously hitting headlines, and is slowly generating a solid catalogue of games, including the smash hit frightfest that is Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which Engadget have dubbed “the most terrifying VR game on the market”. The trouble is, VR hasn’t properly hit Xbox One. It is possible to use game streaming to play Xbox One games on the Oculus Rift, but this simply displays the game in an Oculus-rendered environment.
As we’ve previously covered, Sony has had a headstart when it comes to implementing the next leap in gaming technology into their consoles. The PS4 Pro has had a chance to flex its muscles against the Xbox One and One S, delivering 4K and VR gaming compatibility. In fact, the Playstation VR headset is performing exceptionally well in terms of sales, racking up 915,000 within four months, outselling both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vice. However, this is set to change come the release of Project Scorpio, as details have been released containing some important info and specs for the new console.
Project Scorpio will launch in the 2017 holiday period
Microsoft’s new console will hit shelves in time for Christmas, no doubt in a calculated move to deliver maximum coverage and sales. It looks set to go above and beyond the Xbox One and One S in terms of performance and power, with Tech Radar stating that the Scorpio’s GPU will be 4.5 times more powerful than the GPU that powers their current generation of console. This is great, as it gives the Scorpio enough graphical grunt to run true VR games smoothly. So it looks like VR games will definitely be hitting the Scorpio, right? Well, not exactly. Phil Spencer has stated that he’s not 100% sold on VR in gaming in its current form, saying that the games he’s been playing in VR “feel like demos and experiments”.
So the Scorpio will 100% be “VR compatible”, in the sense that it have the tech specs to run VR content, but whether or not Microsoft go out of their way to bring VR games to the platform is another story. It’s a smart move by Microsoft as they’re in a unique position. By making the Scorpio powerful enough to run VR, they can join in the party if VR really takes off en masse with consumers. However, they’re not going all in with VR, just in case it doesn’t quite take off in the way people are predicting – similar to what Microsoft experienced with the Xbox 360 when they backed HD DVD to win the battle of HD media.
We really, really hope fully fledged VR comes to Scorpio
Other gaming niches are getting very excited about VR, and Playstation VR’s sales figures show that there’s definitely an appetite for it amongst consoles. The iGaming community is expected to get heavily engaged with VR, with online casinos always looking to bring an extra level of realism to their games. For a long time, live casino game technology were the most realistic online experiences possible.
Let’s take the roulette as an example: live roulette games involve a real time video feed of a croupier spinning the wheel, just the same as they do in a casino, with the results being streamed to players over the internet. Players can interact with the croupier too, asking them questions through a chat interface, which the latter can reply to verbally. Some iGaming brands have taken this high-tech offering further, with Betway Casino offering two different versions of live roulette, including one dubbed Immersive Roulette. This features multiple cinematic shots of the roulette wheel, including slow motion replays of where the ball lands. It’s all pretty close to the authentic casino experience, as the only thing missing is the vibe of a land-based casino and the feeling of being gathered around the table with other players. VR looks almost certain to be able to change this, by actually giving players the sensation of physically being in the casino setting, as well as making it possible to virtually pick up and place chips their chips.
The same can be said for console gaming. We are not alone in believing that VR is the next logical evolution in gaming. Graphics processing has come on a huge amount within this console generation, with super sleek HDR graphics rolling out on the Xbox One S, which made some of our favourite games look even better, and VR seems to be the next step in that chain. Some game developers are also putting in the work to reboot VR versions of their PC games. The hugely popular Fallout 4 is set to add VR support, made possible by the HTC Vive, later this year. If Bethesda do a good job of incorporating VR support into the existing game, this could show that it’s a worthwhile toil for other developers, helping big budget VR games to gain more traction. It’s this level of dedication and experimentation that’s needed to bring VR to the console masses. For VR to sell well, it’s going to need big name developers like Bethesda to fully buy into the technology and develop games worthy of the additional price tag that VR headsets and gear have.
Microsoft + VR: Will they or won’t they?
When Phil Spencer said that the VR games and software he had experienced felt like experimentation, it probably wasn’t meant as criticism or a dig at VR. Rather, it just shows that Microsoft are laser focused on delivering the best gaming experience possible and don’t want to go all in with a technology that hasn’t yet proven itself as a major contender in the gaming space. Indeed, there are still a few teething problems when it comes to VR games. For one, there’s the expensive equipment and the additional cables the headset requires. Many have said that VR needs to be fully wireless before it can properly get the mainstream excited, which is a fair point. Nothing quite brings you back to reality than a clump of tangled cables. Another issue is that it can make some people feel motion sickness, especially during long periods of in-game walking around. It’s issues like this that are no doubt be causing Microsoft to act tentatively.
Hopefully, these will be kinks that can be worked out. Microsoft have said they envisage console generations as we know them dying out soon. If this is the case, and if gaming trends shift to VR, then you have to assume VR games will be rolled out on the Scorpio. Luckily, the world doesn’t have to wait long before additional light is shed on the Xbox Scorpio. Microsoft are holding a full reveal event on June 11th 2017. Do you think VR will come to Scorpio? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.