Virtual reality headset maker Oculus Rift held a pre-E3 2015 press conference on Thursday, where Xbox Head Phil Spencer was on hand to spill the beans about a partnership with Microsoft. The VR headset is not only gaining input support with an Xbox One controller, but it will also be natively supported by Windows 10 with an unrefined hook to the Xbox One.
When the Oculus Rift launches sometime in the first quarter of 2016, it will come with an Xbox One controller and the new Xbox One wireless PC adapter, which Microsoft announced earlier this week as coming this fall for $24.99. Oculus felt it was crucial that the first commercial release of the VR headset ship with a gamepad, and thus, the partnership with Microsoft was born.
The partnership between Microsoft and Oculus Rift goes beyond the inclusion of the controller, however. The Windows 10 operating system will provide native support for the headset so that it will work “seamlessly” out of the box. How deep that integrates with the Xbox app and store on Windows 10 is unknown.
Meanwhile, the Oculus Rift won’t support plugging into the Xbox One directly, but those that do own the console and a Windows 10 PC will be able to stream Xbox One games to the headset. The streaming feature from the console to Windows 10 devices was announced earlier this year. While not a true virtual reality experience at this point, Spencer described this as a virtual living room experience for games.
“We believe we’ll be able to create state of the art virtual reality experiences with the Oculus Rift on top of Windows,” Spencer said on stage.
Building in support for Oculus Rift for Windows 10 is a win for Microsoft in that category. The company is producing the Augmented Reality (AR) Hololens headset to be released later this year, but doesn’t have anything in the VR space to compete with Sony’s Project Morpheus or Valve and HTC’s VIVE.
Unfortunately, there was no mention by Spencer of any Xbox One games building support for the Oculus Rift. Until there is, the experience of streaming games from the console to the VR headset may not have much added value beyond the illusion of a game taking a user’s entire field of vision.
A growing number of game developers were also on hand to show their support for the Oculus Rift. Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive studio Insomniac Games showed off Edge of Nowhere, while Eve Online developer CCP demonstrated its space combat title, Eve: Valkyrie.
For those that don’t think an Xbox One controller provides a true VR experience, Oculus Rift will provide an alternative. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey introduced the Oculus Touch “half moon” prototype controller to provide “precise manipulation in VR space.”
The wireless controller is used in pairs and includes a thumbstick, two buttons, an analog trigger, and a hand trigger. It also includes integrated inertial and 360 degree movement tracking, plus haptic feedback so that users can “feel the objects” they are touching in VR space.
There’s no word on when the Oculus Touch controllers will be released or their price. Similarly, the Oculus Rift price hasn’t been announced yet either, but is expected to cost between $200 to $400.
[Images via Oculus Rift, Tech Dirt]