Tim Sweeney was onstage at MWC for the reveal of Microsoft’s next-gen AR headset, where he announced that Unreal Engine 4 will have native platform integration for Microsoft’s new HoloLens 2 from May.
“We’re witnessing the birth of an entirely new generation of technology with augmented reality and HoloLens,” said Sweeney. “I believe AR will become the primary platform of the future for work and for entertainment.”
Committing support for what remains the most exciting and business-viable AR headset is important, but native Unreal Engine support (as opposed to streamed support for the previous hardware) shows that Microsoft is keen to make the headset an open platform and not a walled garden for its own platforms and services.
“AR’s going to have such an intimate and powerful role in our lives that we’ve got to establish clear ground rules respecting everyone's rights. This means open platforms, open ecosystems, and privacy protections which put the user first. And that is exactly what Microsoft is launching here today,” added Sweeney.
“We will support HoloLens an an open platform and we will resist anyone who tries to build a walled garden around our lives!” he stated boldly.
And Microsoft too talked up the open nature of the platform: “We have made a commitment to open platforms for our mixed reality ecosystem, and are thrilled that Epic is introducing Unreal Engine support for HoloLens 2 to underscore that promise,” said Alex Kipman, Technical Fellow, Microsoft. “Our mutual efforts to remove barriers and empower creators unlocks new doors to discovery and innovation.”
And Unreal support sounds like just the beginning: “Epic will fully support Microsoft's HoloLens strategy now and for the long-term,” said Sweeney. “We’re starting with Unreal Engine. HoloLens support is up and running now, and coming to all developers in May. Unreal enables architects, industrial designers, and television and film producers to bring photorealistic pixels to HoloLens in real-time.”
There’s no Fortnite AR tie-in planned for the time being though, Sweeney confirmed: “Though I’m not here to announce a game or a consumer AR strategy yet, I am here to tell you that in the years to come, Epic Games will support HoloLens in all of our endeavors.”