Well, this is interesting. Microsoft announced today that the new Xbox Wireless Controller that shipped alongside Xbox One S will soon be compatible with controller-enabled games on Samsung Gear VR. And the first game that will support this controller is Minecraft: Gear VR Edition, of course.
“With Minecraft: Gear VR Edition, players can get right inside the world of Minecraft and build, explore and battle mobs – all with a fresh perspective,” Microsoft’s Navin Kumar explains. “Following a game update in October to supported Android devices, your new Xbox Wireless Controller can be paired to work directly through your Gear VR device for use with Minecraft: Gear VR Edition.”
So, let’s step back for a second. This may be more impressive than you realize.
As you may know, VR is one of this year’s buzz terms, and one of the big trends is bringing this technology downmarket from expensive and complex (and PC-based) solutions like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. There are two primary players here: PlayStation 4, which will obviously work with Sony’s video game consoles, and Samsung Gear VR, which works with newer Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Galaxy S6, and Galaxy S6 Edge.
PlayStation VR is shipping later this year and will cost $400. But the latest version of Galaxy Gear VR, which is now shipping, costs just $99. That’s VR for the masses, basically. Assuming the masses are using a newer Samsung handset.
There’s also an interesting line in Microsoft’s announcement: “As part of our ongoing commitment to enable gamers to play anywhere, on the devices they want, we announced last month the expansion of the Xbox Wireless ecosystem across Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs,” Kumar writes. Which, taken in isolation, seems to really just talk about Microsoft’s own gaming platforms. But by expanding the use of the new Xbox Wireless Controller ($60 at Amazon) to a Samsung gaming platform, Microsoft’s statement starts to become a lot more literal.
And to be clear, this support is not just for Microsoft games, like Minecraft. “Broader support across all Gear VR controller-enabled titles like Herobound, Spirit Champion, Omega Agent, and End Space will be available in the coming months,” Kumar said. “We’re working hard to make the Xbox Wireless Controller compatible with all controller-supported Gear VR games and future games too.” This is quite interesting, and it makes me wonder where we might see the Xbox Wireless Controller pop up next.
If you are intersted in playing Minecraft: Gear VR Edition with the Xbox Wireless Controller on your Gear VR, you’ll need to update your controller and then connect it to the Samsung device via Bluetooth.