Xbox One games and Xbox 360 games (via backward compatibility) can now be played with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets thanks to the Xbox One streaming app.
Two years ago, Microsoft announced its partnership with Oculus VR, the Facebook-owned virtual reality company. As part of the partnership, Xbox One controllers would be compatible with the Oculus Rift headset and Xbox One games could be streamed to the headset. While Oculus VR users have enjoyed controller compatibility for quite some time, they’ve been forced to wait to play Xbox One games; but now, that wait is over.
On Twitter, Xbox Live’s director of programming, Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb confirmed that the Xbox One streaming app is now available for free for Oculus Rift users. By connecting their Xbox One and their to the same network, players can make games “come to life on a huge virtual screen in three immersive virtual theaters,” says Oculus. While the headset’s users may already enjoy games like (Oculus Rift exclusive) Edge of Nowhere, now, they can “expand” their library of VR games by streaming both Xbox One games and Xbox 360 games (those that are compatible through backward compatibility) to the headset.
Stream Xbox One games directly on your @oculus Rift with the Xbox One Streaming app, now available for free https://t.co/jPQPHYi3LW pic.twitter.com/VjKj3oi7uK— / Larry Hryb / (@majornelson) December 12, 2016
Though, it should be noted that this isn’t “true” virtual reality compatibility. The Xbox One streaming app allows gamers to use the Oculus Rift as another screen and the games played through this method haven’t been optimized or built from the ground up to be played in virtual reality.
Naturally, many will be asking whether this signals that Microsoft is more interested in bringing virtual reality gaming to the Xbox One. But unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though the company plans to put more eggs in that particular basket.
Earlier this year, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that Microsoft has no plans on “adding a VR device” to the Xbox One and that the company is keeping an eye on the industry instead. This year, Microsoft also announced partnerships with several technology manufacturers – including Dell, HP, Lenovo and Asus – to develop virtual reality headsets for Windows 10. Though, this also highlights how Microsoft itself is not ready to dip its toes into the virtual reality gaming waters and is rather interested in working with partners who will do the heavy lifting and will take on the risk instead.
As the VR gaming sector matures, Microsoft may well re-consider its current stance and put much more effort into it. However, given that the company is already working on its own AR headset, HoloLens and that VR headset sales have been disappointing thus far, it could be a while before Microsoft sees something that will encourage it to go all-in.
Oculus Rift is available now.