Xbox Series X could be getting VR — here's the proof

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Xbox)

Virtual reality might be coming to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S if recent internal code findings prove to be fruitful. This comes from Microsoft Flight Simulator forum user Cygnifick, who, upon looking at code leading up to the upcoming VR closed beta, found some interesting wording. 

In it, Cygnifick found references to Scarlett_VR. Scarlett was the working codename for Xbox Series X. If true, it suggests that Microsoft has tinkered with Flight Simulator in VR on Xbox. 

We do know that Microsoft Flight Simulator is coming to Xbox, just not when. While the company has committed to bringing the plane simulation title to consoles, it currently is a PC-only game. And considering the amount of graphical horsepower and internet data needed to run a realistic real-world experience, it’s no surprise that Asobo Studio is working on the highest end machines first. 

Microsoft’s Xbox has been notably absent from the virtual reality space, even as Sony continued to push PlayStation VR in the previous generation of consoles. Nintendo too launched a light VR experience with Nintendo Labo VR Kit on Switch. 

But this isn’t Xbox’s first flirtation with VR. At E3 2016, Xbox chief Phil Spencer did mention that the upcoming Xbox One X would feature VR support. Two years later, those plans were dropped. And when asked about it on the Gamertag Radio Podcast in February, Spencer said “We’re not going to do that. I understand certain people would want that, [but] we have to focus our efforts on the things we’re doing right now. And the most precious resource that we have is the team and their ability and I just have to focus on the things we’re doing right now.”

As for Sony, its experiment with VR hasn’t been wildly successful. Of the 106 million PlayStation 4’s sold worldwide, a little less than 5% of users own a PSVR headset at five million. Nintendo’s Labo VR, which uses the Switch plus a cardboard accessory, is more of a fun experience than a full blown headset. As Laptop Mag’s editor in chief Sherri Smith noted, “the virtual experiences are legitimately fun. However, like previous Labo Kits, the entertainment value is short.”

VR’s success has also been muted on PC. Even on Steam, the largest PC digital marketplace, less than 2% of users have VR headsets. 

As Facebook’s Oculus VR headset is continuing to make strides in all-in-one VR experiences, and earned high marks in our Oculus Quest 2 review, wide adoption remains to be seen. Or as publication News Opener put it: “the VR revolution has been five minutes away for eight years.” 

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.