Halo VR coming to Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Holy Smokes!
Today, a number of bombshells were dropped on the VR gaming industry by Microsoft. The biggest bombshell, is the fact that all these upcoming Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets are going to be compatible with Steam VR. This is absolutely massive news for the VR industry in general, but we'll have more on that later. First, let's get to a tiny tidbit that was included in with all this information. When Microsoft announced this extremely interesting news, they also of course had announcements about games and experiences coming to their own Windows store. An image was revealed that displayed a bunch of game logos and studio logos.
We saw logos for Arizona Sunshine, Super HOT and Fantastic Contraption to name a few. One of the logo's that really piqued our interest, was of course the Halo logo. Now, before everybody starts jumping for joy, Microsoft announced all of this under their Mixed Reality banner, which of course includes HoloLens. HoloLens already has had a very short Halo demo displayed on it, so there is an outside chance that the Halo logo being included in this list, is a bit of a misdirection, and instead, this is actually a HoloLens experience. However, we have to remember, that everything else on the list was extremely VR oriented. Stuff like Bullet Sorrow VR ,Dark Legion and Ancient Amuletor were mentioned as well. Nearly everything on that image was extremely VR specifix. Having a single HoloLens production mixed in, doesn't make a ton of sense. No, we believe that these new Mixed-Reality headsets coming from Dell, Lenovo, Acer and others are going to actually get some type of legit Halo experience in the very near future.
Of course, the big question is... exactly what kind of Halo experience are we talking about? Well, we do know that 343 Industries, Microsoft's No.1 internal development team is in charge of the project. If this was going to be a super short Halo experience that didn't have much substance to it, Microsoft would have probably farmed out the project, and maybe had 343 Industries check in on it here and there. However, today's announcement made it seem like 343 Industries is directly involved with this project, so this could be something much more exciting! On the Windows Blog, Alex Kipman, Microsoft's "Technical Fellow" announced:
"it’s my pleasure to let you know that we are working with 343 Industries to bring future Halo experiences into mixed reality. We are not providing specifics right now, but it is going to be a lot of fun to work with them."
Now, I have to admit, that based on that comment, it doesn't really sound like a Halo project is actually coming day-n-date with the consumer launch of these headsets, but anything is possible. The vast majority of games that Microsoft revealed are expected to come this holiday season, so we can hope that just maybe, this thing is a bit further along than we might expect. Halo VR, no matter how short or brief it could be, would be a huge incentive for people to run out and buy these brand new Windows Mixed-Reality headsets. I'm sure Dell, Lenovo, Acer, and all the others would love to have a Halo experience kick off the launch of their new hardware product. Of course, that also begs the question... Will the experience be exclusive to the Windows Store? Most likely it will. But will Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headset owners be able to log into the Windows Store and buy Halo VR and play it on their Rift or Vive? Unfortunately, we don't know the answer to this question. You'd have to guess, that Microsoft wouldn't mind having over one million existing VR headset owners try out their Windows store.
We'll have to wait and see how all of this shakes out over the coming weeks, but I can tell you this, the announcements made today, could reverberate throughout the VR gaming industry for quite some time. Microsoft is a major player in this game, and Steam VR support is absolutely huge. This gives Valve a whole new avenue to headset adoption, and a greater opportunity to sell VR software to an even larger audience. How will Oculus respond to this? Could this actually cause Oculus to speed up the process of opening up their Store to competing hardware? We know that Oculus has hinted at looking at doing so sometime in the not too distant future. Could this be the kick in the pants that Oculus needs to expedite the process? I"ll tell you what, regardless of what happens, the VR gaming industry just got a whole lot more interesting!