Despite the increasing availability, Microsoft’s HoloLens still only officially exists in a development capacity. It remains far from becoming a consumer product, and yet developers are continuing to push the agenda for videogames on the platform. According to Leila Martine, director of product marketing at Microsoft, this is because it’s videogames that pave the way for public awareness.
“I am probably saying something out of turn, because I’m not sitting in the room when they’re making these decisions in Redmond, but I do know that it causes me great consternation every time they go to a gaming conference and they show HoloLens. Because when that happens, all that journalists want to talk about is games,” stated Martine in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. “I have Case Western University, which is one of these most phenomenal case studies [with its education product that teaches anatomy]. But they’ll get like 300,000 YouTube views, which is still great for a B2B scenario. But Minecraft… are you kidding me? Those views are in the bazillions.”
Microsoft has never denied the opportunity HoloLens provides for videogames, however the company has openly stated that the device is not intended as a gaming platform first-and-foremost. It’s the developers, according to Martine, who are ready to capitalise on the opportunities for videogames that HoloLens brings.
“We are definitely seeing games developers in demand,” says Martine. “Part of that is because Unity is a core way to be able to build on this right now. With their heritage in gaming and with the demand coming from these new places, it is a pretty hot place for these games developers to be. Then we are seeing who has the appetite to move outside of gaming and capture opportunities that are coming from, quite frankly, places they haven’t worked with before. It could be a power plant looking to visualise their plant, or training simulations for pilots or engineers. With the Unity capability, these opportunities are there for game makers.”
Of course, the greatest issue facing HoloLens’ readiness for mainstream adoption remains its price tag. Currently sitting at $3,000 USD, the device is a far cry from the oft considered expensive virtual reality (VR) platforms now within reach of consumers, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which both retail for under $1,000.
“Unlike some of the other ones that are out there on the market, you don’t need a high performance computer to go with it,” defends Martine. “Everything you need is right on that device. And that device is really unique in terms of it capabilities, and the team has done a tremendous amount to bring it to market in a very short amount of time.”
Officially revealed back in January 2015, Microsoft’s HoloLens still has no path to consumer release outlined for it. However, the company did recently reveal plans to partner with external manufacturers for a range of low cost VR devices. VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details on the HoloLens and other realities technologies from Microsoft.