First Look at Virtual Reality Minecraft At Xbox Showcase

6 min read

First glimpse of virtual reality Minecraft at Xbox showcase Dave Lee North America technology reporter

1 March 2016

Millions of gamers love Minecraft. Microsoft now shows us how virtual reality can be created.

Microsoft bought the block-building phenomenon in 2014 at $2.5bn (PS1.8bn), an enormous sum that left many lovers of the game anxious about its future.

The US firm said that it would not alter its well-known formula, but instead invest in Minecraft.

In a special event held in San Francisco's trendy Mission District, its Xbox division showcased the virtual reality version of Minecraft for the first time.

Palmer Luckey, creator and designer of the Oculus Rift VR headset said that it makes you feel like you're in Minecraft.

It's like other VR experiences. It's completely absorbing. For those who are enthralled by Minecraft's addictive building process, it's a significant step up from watching it on a regular screen.

Parents may be worried about $1,500 which is the cost of a game that is popular with kids.

This is the amount they should spend to purchase an Oculus headset as well as a powerful PC to power it.

That's surely too costly, I suggested to Mr Luckey.

"It isn't," he said.

"I mean, it is expensive in comparison to other devices out there but if you look at it as compared to the mobile phone or television, you're getting a lot more technology.

"It's not like this is a simple piece of hardware and the price is likely to decrease in time."

If it is to be accepted by the masses it must be slowed down quickly.

As of now, I'd like to see a minor resurgence of the arcade game which is a place where people go to play top-quality games that aren't affordable to purchase for their homes.

Big titles

Oculus Minecraft was among the several games that were on display at the Xbox Spring Showcase. This gave journalists (and some YouTube stars) the opportunity to play some of tomorrow's blockbusters.

I spent an hour in the enthralling world of Quantum Break. It's a game where you play Jack Joyce, an uncooperative action hero who gains the ability to manipulate time following an experiment that went wrong.

If that sounds like yet another predictable scenario for an online game, you're right - but the title's mechanics (think "bullet time", only better) make it something special.

Also, make sure to read Tom Clancy's The Division -- set in a highly accurate and authentic Manhattan.

Many of the titles featured on the show were also advertised as excellent to run on a PC through Microsoft's Windows 10 operating systems.

"If you look at the numbers, PC gaming is the fastest-growing gaming segment available," said head of Xbox Phil Spencer.

"It's only natural to concentrate on gaming on Windows."

Virtual plans

Microsoft has decided to not create its own headset for virtual reality. However it is still working on the Hololens-focused Hololens. Instead it is working to make it compatible with the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.

In the debate over price on the price, Mr. Spencer said he believed virtual reality would follow the path of high-definition TVs - a luxury item initially but a cinch to resist once you've had the experience.

"The early adopters will be there to propel the VR industry," he said.

In light of the fact that Sony's PlayStation 4 will soon get its own VR headset I asked if Microsoft might also think about making its own gear.

"I absolutely think it could be a part of our roadmap," he said. He stressed that Windows 10 was now fully compatible with VR titles, but he did not mention this.

'Not hacked'

Of course, the newest games aren't worth anything unless players can connect to the internet to play them. As of late it's been quite an issue.

The poor reliability of Xbox Live - the service Xbox gamers use to play against each other online - has stressed out thousands.

Snoop Dogg is one of the fans who are unhappy with their service. He pleaded with Bill Gates to fix the problem, or he'd defect to PlayStation.

Mr. Spencer apologized for the issues.

He said, "It's evidently always regretful."

"This outage was a concern. We learned from it. It took us a little longer to comprehend the issue however, it was apparent.

He denied that the company was the victim of hacking and said that, even though the company's network was constantly under attack it wasn't, as claimed destroyed by a coordinated effort for gamers to be cut off.

The risk of losing Snoop Dogg: "Snoop's been a long-time gamer and long-time supporter of Xbox.

"I am able to understand when people are angry. I view it as an indication of the love and dedication people have for what we offer as a game platform."

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC and on Facebook

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