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Phil Spencer explains how HoloLens will do VR differently

If there's a theme that sums up this year's Game Developers Conference, it's virtual reality, AKA 'the first stepping stone towards holodecks'. But where Sony and Valve are chasing the Oculus Rift with their Project Morpheus and Vive goggles, Microsoft is heading down a different path.

Its HoloLens doesn't bring you into a virtual world: it brings the virtual world to you. Revealed at its Windows 10 event in January, Microsoft's slim visor will project video calls, TV and, er, 3D weather reports onto your walls and tables, making you look moderately crazy in front of your visor-less family and friends.


Obviously, we want one for the games. The January event showed a Minecraft-y building game mockup, but Xbox head Phil Spencer has confirmed that there are already proper games in the works. Speaking at GDC, he said: "Our first-party studios are active today building game entertainment for HoloLens, and you're going to see more of that throughout the year."
We’re actively building game entertainment for Hololens
Spencer sees HoloLens as different to traditional VR, thanks to its "untethered" connection and the "mixed reality" nature of the device. He has a point. Oculus, Sony and Valve are aiming for total immersion in a virtual space, while Microsoft is hoping to augment reality with holograms, like something out of Mass Effect. It's too early to tell which approach will catch on with the public, but it's great to see the Xbox division doing something different.

"We've created a differentiated thing with HoloLens," Spencer explains, "that's different from VR. I’m not saying it's better or worse, just that it's different. I want to make sure the first-party games we're building with our team are things that accentuate the differences we're building in that platform, because we want those to be the things that make it stand as its own device."

He wouldn't pin down any concrete mechanics or game ideas, but he mentioned Dance Central as a game that took Kinect in an unexpected direction back on Xbox 360. Can we expect an Xbox One sequel featuring holographic dance partners?

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