Microsoft ships Windows 10 Minecraft for the Oculus Rift, promises it's less barfy

Who knew that making VR turns jerky was actually a good idea?

When Microsoft showed off Minecraft for the Oculus Rift last fall, the experience was quite realistic—and so was the nausea. On Monday, Microsoft said it's begun shipping the VR version of Minecraft to everyone, complete with two important tweaks that should help reduce VR vertigo.

Microsoft began shipping a free update to Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta on Monday that added VR support for the Oculus Rift. It’s actually the second VR-specific update Microsoft and developer Mojang have released for Minecraft, following the Minecraft for Gear VR edition the company released in May.

“Simulator sickness,” one of the names given to the sort of nausea that can accompany virtual reality software, depends on a number of factors, all of which boil down to convincing your brain that what you’re seeing is actually “real,” rather than an illusion that should be dispelled. It’s that disconnect that can cause all sorts of symptoms, not the least of which is vertigo or outright nausea.

Why this matters: Minecraft is actually a fairly sedate game, with just a few objects moving on the screen the majority of the time. That probably makes it a fairly good testbed for working out why users become dizzy. Hopefully the developers can share what works and what doesn’t and improve VR for all.

A number of nausea-negating tweaks

While there’s no magic bullet to totally eliminate nausea, there are a number of tricks that can help. Two of those features will directly affect the player, Microsoft said in a video that described the new features: an “emergency stop” button that can push the player out of the VR environment, and a staggered, jerky way of turning that Microsoft promises can actually reduce nausea.

“What is the best way that we can do this in VR, with the maximum amount of comfort?” Saxs Persson, one of the members of the Minecraft team, said in the video.

Persson showed how users can tap a button (the View button on the Xbox One controller, it appears) and instantly be pushed out of the immersive VR environment. This “emergency stop” doesn’t actually turn off VR, per se, but it puts the viewer into a faux living-room environment, where Minecraft is being played on a 2D screen in front of the viewer. A tap of the View button returns the user to the 3D world.

The other major change the team made is totally counter-intuitive: Instead of turning in a smooth arc, the new version of Minecraft jolts players through a 22.5-degree turn. Microsoft’s testing confirmed that the jerky turn apparently reduced nausea without a loss of control.

“Many things during the development have been very counter-intuitive for me, “ said Tommaso Checchi, another member of the Minecraft team, in the video. “At the start I thought that the obvious thing was to make everything have a lot of inertia, make everything extremely smooth and elastic. That is apparently the worst thing you can do in-game.”

Microsoft made a number of other tweaks, not the least of which include support for mouse and keyboard. Other improvements include MSAA for crisp visuals, new render distance settings that will make use of powerful VR graphics cards, and optimized Windows 10 DX11 performance, the two companies said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MinecraftMicrosoftOculusVR

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?