Epic Games employees say Microsoft 'poisons' the AR industry in leaked emails

HoloLens 2
HoloLens 2 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Epic Games employees discuss Windows Mixed Reality and the HoloLens in a leaked email thread.
  • While some employees seem optimistic about the technology, one says that Microsoft 'poisons the well' for the AR industry.
  • Another employee accuses Microsoft of "Magic Leap-level overselling."

The Epic Games antitrust lawsuit has shed light on some intriguing areas in the battle between Epic Games and Apple. While the majority of headlines from the ongoing case center around Epic Games' 'Project Liberty,' a recent piece of evidence loops Microsoft into the conversation. An email chain from June 2019 filed as evidence in the trial and seen by Windows Central shows Epic employees discussing how Microsoft's HoloLens and Mixed Reality efforts affect the rest of the industry.

The thread starts off with a discussion of Apple's ARKit announcement at WWDC. The discussion focuses on location anchoring, which rolled out later with ARKit 4. The conversation then segued over to other location-based technology, including Microsoft's Azure spatial anchors.

An employee named Atli Mar wrote:

Totally, We prototyped geo storing of point clouds and fetching a while back (that's the stuff we geeked out on at E3 lat year Mark R), using an early version of the RPO galaga stuff. It works reasonably well. Over time, we'll have to deal with scaling storage of the point cloud, and during gameplay, density of players, persistence and replication of stuffs that the UE4 server isn't designed for.

Later in the thread, Chance Ivey discusses Windows Mixed Reality Spatial anchors:

WMR Spatial anchors in UE4 are in the works, but I've not seen them running in a hololens, let alone IOS. I can say that the Hololens 2's ability to reliably identify a space that it knows and provide user-dropped anchors is pretty impressive (locally that is). it works way better than I was expecting it to. If spatial anchors can reliably replicate that ability to other devices, this could work.

While Ivey seems optimistic about the technology, Mark Rein expressed different thoughts regarding Microsoft:

Yeah horribly overselling AR in a way that poisons the well for the industry. They did this same shit with Hololens.

Andrew Grant echoes similar sentiments:

On one hand there are a lot of really cool things I could imagine a world-scale AR Minecraft experience being, on the other none of them are in this trailer. Instead, it's just Magic Leap-level overselling of AR capabilities that aren't going to be anywhere close to what they release.Feels like a sizzle reel for what's going to be a very different experience.

The thread finishes with someone sharing a trailer of the AR version of Minecraft.

It's not rare to hear people criticize Microsoft's HoloLens and the Windows Mixed Reality platform. They haven't taken off in the consumer space and struggle to get casual users interested. Both Windows Mixed Reality and HoloLens are, however, successful with enterprises. As noted by our executive editor Daniel Rubino, "Microsoft does have one not-so-secret advantage over potential rivals in MR: it actually exists."

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.