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Microsoft Shows Off New 'Minecraft' Built for Virtual Reality

by Julianne Pepitone /
Microsoft is building a version of "Minecraft" specifically for its HoloLens augmented-reality headset.NBCNews

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Microsoft bought legendary game franchise "Minecraft" for $2.5 billion late last year, and on Monday the company revealed the next step: a version of the game built specifically for Microsoft's HoloLens augmented-reality headset.

Related: Microsoft's HoloLens Headset Augments Your Reality With Windows

In "Minecraft" for HoloLens, users can play the world-building Xbox One game with a controller like usual — or they can have the onscreen world appear on their wall or coffee table, popping up as a 3-D hologram. Gamers can use hand gestures or voice commands to zoom into the action, check out angles that aren't visible on a 2-D TV and even, for example, strike a surface with lightning simply by looking at the area and making a verbal command.

The audience at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles gasped and cheered at the demonstration, which relies on Microsoft's as-yet-unreleased HoloLens headset that the company unveiled in January. The HoloLens headset runs on Windows Holographic, which overlays virtual windows and objects on real-world settings as well as tracks a user's gaze, movements and gestures.

Microsoft didn't reveal when "Minecraft" for HoloLens will be available — and that's likely because Microsoft hasn't announced a release date or pricing for the HoloLens itself. An unnamed executive told The New York Times last month that the headset will "cost significantly more than a game console." (Microsoft's Xbox One launched at $499.)

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