Minecraft Is An Example Of The Gear VR's Biggest Problem

It seems like just about every kid with a passing interest in technology has been touched by Minecraft in some way. I've heard some parents complain about how it's the only thing their children want to play.

So good news! There's a new way to play Minecraft. Which totally involves them becoming immersed in a way that will happily let you ignore them for hours. Probably. But there's a problem.

In an email to users, Oculus has announced that Minecraft is now available for Samsung's VR tech for US$6.99. The VR version has all the functionality that you'd get from Minecraft on a mobile (aka Pocket Edition), but users will be able to use either the first-person view or "the more comfortable default theatre view".

There's one catch, though: Oculus warns that you'll need a separate gamepad "to move through and interact with Minecraft". The VR manufacturer recommends the SteelSeries Stratus XL wireless gamepad, but that costs around $100 depending on which retailer you go to.

$100. That's almost as much as the Gear VR itself. The Xbox One and PS4 wireless controllers don't even cost that much at full price.

You can get the PS4 working over Bluetooth if you're prepared to download the SixaxisPairTool app. There's always the corded route, but that requires a on-the-go USB to Micro USB adapter which not everyone has.

It's a massive pain in the arse that shouldn't be necessary in 2016. Part of the Gear VR's value is that it doesn't cost a lot and that it's tether-free. It's liberating not having cords and wires coming out of your head like you're a creature from The Matrix.

But that's what more and more Gear VR requires. If you want to enjoy the best of what the store has to offer going forward, you'll need to shell out for a separate controller. And when you factor in the cost of that with the headset, the shine on mobile VR starts to wear off.


    Heads up: if you were having an issue with the video earlier, that should be fixed now.

    I hadn't really thought of needing a controller, but you're absolutely right. I've always figured VR would be best utilised for non-gaming stuff (concerts, movies, etc.) - it's certainly how Samsung are advertising it at the moment - as a method to passively escape during your commute: I've seen ads both at the Train Station and the Airport this week.

    I'm an iPhone user, so I'm not really sure how it works with Samsung, but a seperate peripheral to stop, start, pause, go back, go forward, etc. still seems like a necessary staple for both games and the non-gaming VR experience.

      The Gear VR does have a touchpad on the side with a button and a back button. It's a bit clunky to use, but is fine for moving through a menu or playing videos. For games however it's not great as the controls are limited and your arm can get tired.

        Ah, that makes more sense! Thanks!

    I'm confused by this article. You're angry that a mobile game needs a gamepad? Lots of mobile games, either VR or non-VR require a bluetooth controller. How else were you imagining you play Minecraft on Gear VR? You obviously couldn't use the touchpad alone.

    Oculus recommend the Stratus XL, because it's a really great controller, but if you can't afford it or justify the cost, any cheap $20 bluetooth controller would work as well. I have a Stratus XL for both android and PC, I don't regret paying $100 for it.

      It's not that Minecraft requires it specifically -- it's that more and more content going forward will require the controller. For gamers like you and me we're aware of this out of the bat, and that's not a big deal.

      For a huge portion of the Samsung-owning audience for whom this is their first exposure to VR, it is a big deal. It sours the experience. Should Samsung bundle in a controller with the Gear VR in the future, or provide a separate bundle directly or through retailers?

      It's great that you feel like you've gotten value out of the Stratus XL for $100. It's been a while since I've played with the Steelseries controllers; how does it stack up to the Xbox/Sony pads?

      No, I have a $20 controller and could not remap. Some buttons are not recognized by Oculus environment it seams.
      They are forcing to buy their stuff.
      And after 30 minutes trying to figure out how to map the controller I gave up and tryed refund.

    As someone who knows what GearVR is but little else, how have VR apps been handling controls up to now? Motion? Voice activation? I'd have thought the controller problem was pretty obvious from the outset so I've been curious as to why it hasn't been brought up yet.

      Most action games on the Gear VR require a controller, it's nothing new. Some more simple games get away with just using the touchpad on the side of the headset (you can swipe in four directions and tap for enter) but this gets tiring on your arm and all those actions can be more easily done with a controller on your lap.

      Some Gear VR apps use gaze, like cardboard apps do. So you stare at an option and a timed circle pops up that counts down to 3 seconds or so and confirms the selection you are gazing at, no buttons required, but while it works to solve a problem, it's less than ideal.

    OMG LinkBait! GearVR used to be $200, then $100. Now you can get GearVR for free with the purchase of a new phone. And the Stratus XL costs $60. Not a big deal. We all knew GearVR required a separate controller. To keep GearVR cost minimal I would argue it will never ship with a controller, even after Samsung develops motion controllers compatible with GearVR. About half of GearVR users, only use it to consume 3D photos and videos, lightweight interaction not games, which works fine with the built-in touchpad. If you already have a compatible phone, shelling out $160 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $800 HTC Vive or the $600 Oculus Rift, plus a compatible desktop. How does $160 compare to $1000+? Order of magnitude difference!

    Last edited 28/04/16 5:01 pm

      Gear VR isn't competing with the Vive or Rift, so that's not a realistic line to draw.

        It is a very realistic line to draw because the second this game came out people were comparing it to the hacked together Vive version.

          I meant the headsets, not the versions of Minecraft available on each.

      If you're going to discount the cost of the phone, then it's hardly fair to not discount the cost of the desktop as well. Also may as well include the PSVR too, without the cost of the PS4.

    This is nonsense...Minecraft on the gear vr works awesome with my MOGA hero power controller which cost me all of about 25 bucks on Amazon...if you want to complain about something try playing Minecraft on the gear vr for a couple hours and then complain about the waves of nausea that wash over you after you stop playing

      That is how much I paid for mine, too.

      $100 is just silly.

    This is really stupid. You obviously don't need to get the recommended controller, or use a wired one, there are plenty of cheap Bluetooth game pads such as any MOGA controller, which requires no wires. I feel like this article didn't really have any thought put into it.

    The ps4 controller paired over bluetooth natively. It also almost works in GearVR minecraft. The problem is that the l2 and r2 buttons start at (-1,-1) which makes the screen spinning (lookup and turning continuously). This could easily be fixed by the MinecraftDevelopers to ignore the l2 and r2 axis. No root access / SixaxisPairTool required. If android provided an alternative key layout file with the l2/r2 remapped flat center it would work as well. /system/usr/keylayout/Vendor_054c_Product_0268.kl

    I bought a bluetooth controller made by IPEGA to use with my gear vr. Very happy with it. Layout is similar to a ps3 controller and it works well. For under $40 au its definitely worth a try.

    Gamepads are in fact a problem for Gear VR, as they are with Android in general. Button mapping standards either don't exist, aren't clear to manufacturers, or manufacturers are making no effort to follow them.

    Still, the $100 Steelseries isn't the only well-supported gamepad recommended for GearVR. It's just the most expensive one. Oculus lists several controllers in their recommended FAQ. Sadly, even if your controller is on the recommended list, you'll need to check GearVR gamepad reviews to make sure it will work properly for you before you order.

    I'm using a Moga Pro Power, on the supported list, and have encountered 2 GearVR games with minor issues - both developers fixed their games quickly after I send them bug reports.

    I just recently got the gear vr primarily to play minecraft but quickly realised i needed a controler and i tryed the usb adapter thing that came with my phone and that didnt work. I did find some good games though one being daydreamblue its under development still but it is fantastic and ppl should suport the game by geting it

    hi. Would you mind helping me set this up? I bought the MOGA hero power controller so my son could play Minecraft for Gear VR, but I can't make it work. I connected my Galaxy S6 to the controller via bluetooth on both A and B modes. At the start of the game, it says press X on the controller and when I press X (in both modes A and B), the game does not respond. I can't get past the start screen.

    Would love to hear how you set it up so it works. Thanks very much!

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