Every year at E3, journalists and PR personnel meet up behind closed doors after the main three keynotes to discuss which platform holder – Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony – has 'won' the expo. Some years are easier than others – 2013 it was Sony, 2009 it was Microsoft and Nintendo bagged it in 2010 – but there are very few examples where pundits are prepared to call E3 in favour of one of the 'big three' before the dust has settled on the event as a whole.
This year may be different. We're not calling E3 2015 a Microsoft win – not yet, at least – but we have to say that we're smacking our lips at the prospect of this year's keynote that's decked in green. The reason? HoloLens.
Since it was unveiled this year, HoloLens has been tagged by Microsoft as a device that has a tonne of applications beyond gaming. But the fact that Mass Effect's former Project Director, Casey Hudson, was recently added to HoloLens's development team is a pretty big indication that Microsoft has a lot of plans for its headset that involve the Xbox One. With that in mind, we think there are a couple of franchises – all of them exclusive – and ideas that may be given the HoloLens treatment.
One of the key features of Microsoft's flagship racing simulator series is its desire to bring players as close to being in the driver's seat of its dream machines as possible. If it lives up to the potential displayed in the demos, HoloLens could take the series' immersion to the next level. Instead of sitting in front of a TV screen using a control pad - or, if you've invested in one, a steering wheel rig - imagine a racing sim experience with visuals all around you. The experience of driving a supercar would come ever closer - without the risk of wrapping yourself around a tree.
We’ll be honest, the Kinectimals freak us out. A lot. It’s their eyes, you see. Well, that and the fact that they occasionally try to lick you and leave drool running down the inside of your TV screen. Still, kids seem to like them and they lend themselves to the notion of frolicking in an open space. So we’re willing to bet that someone in Microsoft’s Studios is working on an iteration of Kinectimals that’ll put a tiger cub or a monkey in your living room for your kids to play with. Or you, if you like that sort of thing…
We have to admit, as is the case with Kinectimals, we aren't exactly fans of Microsoft's Wii-Sports knock-off, but once again, we're in the minority. Since Kinect Sports is huge with the family/party gaming crowd, it would be positively foolish for Microsoft not to use the HoloLens device in the next iteration. Or the iteration after that.
The Halo franchise is perhaps the most obvious choice for HoloLens augmentation and not just because it's a first-person shooter. It's obvious that Microsoft has grand plans for the future of Xbox's flagship shooter: it has already commissioned comics, anime, feature films and there's the TV series slated for release later this year. If it isn't working on a Halo HoloLens tie-in at the very least, we'll eat our collective hat -- imagine the Master Chief's HUD floating in front of your TV, or Cortana stalking your room giving you battle advice. All possible with HoloLens.
This is probably the most obvious game that Microsoft could produce for the HoloLens interface. As far as this list goes, it's a bit of a 'gimme' since it's already been shown off as part of the device's demo video. It's also lends itself to the tech beautifully; the port to smart devices shows how that a 'hands-on' interface is more intuitive than a mouse and keyboard (or any other control set-up for that matter) and the idea of taking Minecraft's building blocks and playing with them in your actual living room boast cross-generational appeal age-wise. All of a sudden, that $2.5 billion that Microsoft shelled out for Mojang's world-conquering IP makes perfect sense.
The Xbox 360 Kinect feels like a demo unit compared to the module that followed it and we have every confidence that should Microsoft produce a third iteration, it'll be a step further. With that in mind, it would be insane for Microsoft to ignore the potential of linking HoloLens with its hands-free gaming interface. Along with playing games - such as the ones listed above - users could interact with menus, check in on social networks, activate apps and if HoloLens is capable of activation - and viewing - anything in the 'Snap' window, you could possibly wander to the kitchen to make a cup of tea without missing a frame on the movie you're watching.
Right now, IllumiRoom (Microsoft's concept-stage screen-extending projection system) has been deemed too expensive to release, but that doesn't mean that it'll never see the light of day. If it ever gets to the stage where the buying public could afford it then the HoloLens interface could make it positively mind blowing. Can you imagine storming through a game of Halo that's not only spread out over your living room wall, but also has objectives and crosshairs that are (seemingly) floating inches from your face? Sign us up.