While consumers debate spending hundreds of dollars to bring PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive virtual reality devices into their homes, Starbreeze is inking a different kind of deal for its competing headset.
The IMAX Corporation revealed today that it plans to make content for Starbreeze’s StarVR headset. This partnership will also lead to IMAX helping to install StarVR kiosks and experiences in locations around the world. Yesterday, IMAX announced its VR camera in collaboration with Google, and it confirmed that content captured with that rig works with StarVR. The location-based experiences will roll out to at least six sites this year. The company noted they will aim for certain multiplexes as well as tourist destinations and shopping centers. IMAX is now fully embracing VR, which is a business that analysts predict will generate nearly $40 billion in revenues by 2020.
IMAX established itself in the theater industry by providing tools that enable filmmakers to capture wider, more detailed images than ever before, and now it’s deploying a similar strategy for VR. StarVR is similar to a Rift or a Vive, but it has a 210-degree field-of-view. That’s twice the FOV of the Rift and Vive. IMAX wants to make content that takes full advantage of that while also leveraging its many theater locations around the world.
In a canned statement, IMAX chief executive officer Richard L. Gelfond said that he wants his company to continue to “innovate and find new platforms” for “The IMAX Experience.”
“We believe VR is an area that holds tremendous promise and is a natural progression for IMAX given our established worldwide brand presence, our immersive entertainment technology know-how, and strong industry relationships with filmmakers, studios and exhibitors,” said Gelfond. “Just as IMAX provides the best cinematic experience, Starbreeze is a pioneer in the burgeoning VR market and its headsets will deliver a wider, ‘IMAX-like’ field of view to allow consumers to see, feel, move, and play in new worlds in a powerfully immersive and realistic way.”
For Starbreeze, the company has now distinguished its VR efforts from Oculus and HTC. It now has a corporate customer in a time when virtual reality is struggling to reach consumers due to prohibitively high prices. And we’ve already seen that VR has a lot of appeal for Hollywood and global brands looking for the newest, most exciting way to reach consumers.
Starbreeze is already building a VR game based on the Keanu Reeves action film John Wick from Lionsgate. As part of this deal, Paramount Pictures, director Michael Bay, and exhibitor group UCI have all announced their plans to support this effort. Now, they’ll all have to prove they can use VR to get people to leave their homes.