Xbox Controller Support Makes Games More Practical on Gear VR

Update won't be here until October and will only support Minecraft: Gear VR Edition at first.

by Leif Johnson
Sep 24 2016, 5:00pm

Image: Mack Male/Flickr

Microsoft announced on Friday that its new Bluetooth-powered Xbox wireless controller will work with Samsung's smartphone-based Gear VR headset. Up until now, players of controller-supported games have had to use lesser-known Android controllers, which can vary widely in compatibility and quality. On the other hand, they're often significantly cheaper than Microsoft's new gamepad.

Gear VR is much cheaper than the high-end VR platforms for PC—Oculus Rift and Vive—but is not a great place to play games because it doesn't come with a controller. The Gear VR store mostly offers video content or games and apps with minimal interaction. The Xbox One controller compatability could change that landscape.

In fact, Motherboard recently received a survey from Oculus that asked why we haven't used our Gear VR unit for a while. One of the questions in the survey asked if we'd be more likely to play it if it offered more games (yes!).

The update won't be available until next month, and you'll need to use the $70 Bluetooth controller Microsoft only announced this June. And even then you'll only be able to play Minecraft: Gear VR Edition with it, although support for all controller-supported games on the Gear will appear "in the coming months." We enjoyed the virtual reality version of Minecraft when we played it in August, which you can read about here.

If you happen to be at Minecon in Anaheim, California this weekend, you can waltz on over to the appropriate booth and be one of the first people to try it out.

The news follows last August's announcement that the Redmond, Washington company would start bringing its Xbox wireless technology to products beyond its line beginning with the Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 Cube for gaming.