Microsoft has announced new plans for Xbox VR gaming, continuing an entirely different approach to its main rival, Sony. CEO Satya Nadella revealed that Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to Meta Quest headsets, bringing a vast library of games to your VR headset without needing a console. And it may have Sony’s PSVR 2 beaten before it’s even been released.
Announced during the Meta’s Connect conference, Xbox Cloud Gaming will be added to the VR Headset Store, allowing you to stream your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate library to your Meta Quest 2. Giant 2D screen inside the headset. It will be like playing in your private cinema.
Nadella didn’t say when Xbox Cloud Gaming will launch for Meta Quest 2 and other VR headsets, and Meta didn’t offer any extra details in its follow-up. blog post (opens in new tab)so we can wait until 2023 or beyond before we can play Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 in a VR environment.
This isn’t the first time you’ve been able to play Xbox games on a VR headset; you can connect an Oculus Rift to an Xbox One and create a similar big-screen experience. However, Microsoft did not continue this support with the Xbox Series X|S.
While similar to their previous efforts, there is a significant difference in what Microsoft announced at the Connect conference. Meta Quest 2 is designed for portability. Yes, you can boost its power by connecting it to a PC, but it also supports gaming on the go. It’s easy to pack it in a small carrying case and take it on vacation or to a friend’s house. Xbox Cloud Gaming exploits that mindset – you don’t need to take a console with you and you don’t need a TV or a bunch of cables. Connect the headset to Wi-Fi and your Xbox Controller to the headset and you’re away with a pile of games.
Throughout the growth of Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft has talked about getting its games on as many screens as possible. Not just those connected to an Xbox console. What you’re doing with Xbox Cloud Gaming in Meta Quest is a natural extension.
One size fits all
It’s also interesting how Microsoft’s approach to VR gaming diverges from Sony’s. With PSVR 2, Sony is doubling down on bespoke VR games. It’s making its own top-notch PSVR 2 hardware and games, and pushing what’s possible with VR. I played Horizon: Call of the Mountain, and it was unnerving how realistic its world looked. Microsoft is not getting involved with this, simply seeing VR as a new canvas for its games.
The downsides for Sony are how much it costs to develop all that hardware and software, and that it can only sell its games to people who own its headset. Your market is only as big as the number of headphones you sell. However, people who buy PSVR and PSVR 2 are investing and looking to buy experiences for the technology.
For Microsoft, the costs are much lower, it has already made the games and is simply making them available on another device. It simply increases your potential audience even further by making yourself available in a new ecosystem. But from a gamer’s perspective, it doesn’t offer a gaming experience you can’t get elsewhere – there’s no other way to play Horizon: Call of the Mountain other than a PSVR 2 headset, while you can. play Halo Infinite in your browser on a laptop.
I know which one I’d rather play, but I don’t know which one I’ll end up playing more of. Xbox Cloud Gaming in a VR headset can win by simple affordability.