Things are kicking off in VR. Prices and pre-orders are being announced left, right and centre: first the Oculus Rift, then the HTC Vive and now Microsoft's AR HoloLens Development Edition is available to pre-order too. You really do have to be a dev though. And have $3,000 to gamble. And be based in the US or Canada.
It's good news for the rest of us all the same. The fact that Microsoft is now keen to expand the HoloLens library is an indication of how close the hardware is to realising its aim of producing "the world’s first untethered holographic computer".
To inspire early adopters, Microsoft is releasing a number of HoloLens apps (opens in new tab) free with the dev kits. HoloStudio looks like it has appeared briefly in previous HoloLens ads, allowing you to manipulate 3D objects in 3D with something approaching natural motion—Epic is doing something similar with Unreal Engine 4 (opens in new tab). HoloTour is Google Street View on steroids, and Skype "enhanced to allow people to communicate using holograms" is pure sci-fi.
On the gaming end, Fragments purports to be "a mixed reality crime drama that unfolds in your own environment" wherein characters invite themselves in and chat with you. If nothing else, it'll tell us how deep the uncanny valley runs in the HoloLens. Young Conker is a platformer that uses your surroundings as platforms, which is basically how I entertained myself on long journeys as a child after the Game Boy batteries died.
RoboRaid, meanwhile, is the product of a week's feverish game jamming. An augmented reality shooter, you defend your home against alien invasion, seeing your own walls crumble as you yell lines from Independence Day (that's not a mechanic, it's my recommendation).
As to the price, which has been public for a while, it might sound hideous, but it's standard fare for console dev kits. Clearly Microsoft doesn't see the need to foster mass market appeal (opens in new tab) just yet.
Kits start shipping on March 30, and if you're in the minority who can make use of such wizardry, the full details are here (opens in new tab).