John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves as the title character, features a highly skilled hitman who comes out of retirement and seeks revenge against mobsters who killed his dog. A sequel is currently in the works, but to help ramp up the anticipation, Lionsgate has partnered with Starbreeze Studios to develop a virtual reality first-person shooter game based on the movie. The John Wick VR Game is expected to release during the spring of 2016 for all major headsets including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR.
Other Lionsgate VR experiences include the Insurgent: Shattered Reality, based on the Divergent movie and book series, and The Hunger Games Virtual Reality Experience, both done in partnership with Samsung. While those are 360-degree movie promotions, John Wick VR is expected to be a fully featured standalone game.
Overkill Software, a Starbreeze studio, is uniquely qualified studio to create a John Wick game. Not only is it currently developing a VR game based on The Walking Dead series for StarVR (Starbreeze’s own VR headset), but one of its most prominent games is Payday 2, an over-the-top heist-themed shooter that added John Wick as a playable character last year. More John Wick tie-ins are expected as the sequel comes closer to release.
[a]listdaily speaks to Starbreeze CEO Bo Andersson Klint about creating and promoting virtual reality games and movie tie-ins.
How do you promote an experience that requires emerging technology like virtual reality
It’s really about trying the experience, if you’ve never tried it it’s hard to comprehend how immersive it can actually be. We’re very active in play testing and making sure to get different VR experiences into the hands of as many people as possible.
How integral is established media, like movies, to getting the public used to the idea of VR
Well, it’s one thing to do a movie theatre setting within VR as a first test or simple demo, but we believe immersing the user in an VR-tailored experience really does the trick. Rather than just putting a movie into a VR headset, why not tailor an experience directly for it, where the user can actually interact with the setting and characters of the same movie
With so many VR headsets releasing, including the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and Starbreeze’s own StarVR Project, how do you decide which brand to back
We’re really looking to provide the best experiences over-all in VR. We now have our own hardware, which we acquired partly to be able to be the best in creating content for VR. Also having the highest specced headset with an outstanding quality of course helped in the acquisition process. So far we’ve said we’ll try to support as much hardware as it makes sense for us to do. Steam OpenVR will be one of the first services we’ll support, and through there potentially several hardware manufacturers.
Given how VR has a limited audience right now, how will experiences like the John Wick VR game and The Walking Dead Experience remain on the forefront as these headsets become available to consumers
As with any game, being there as a launch product for a platform is usually a nice place to be, you do get to be a part of something new and outstanding where people are really excited and eager to test new things. But we’re of course also invested in bringing more experiences to VR in the times to come. VR isn’t something new per-se, it’s been around for a good many years, but it’s only now we have the fidelity to actually provide feasible experiences to the masses. We can already now imagine and test how to best immerse our users in our products, but it’s really a learning experience for us all in the VR business. What we do today will surely last but we’re absolutely ecstatic to see what we can do in the near future.
What is the key difference between promoting a VR experience and a game developed for traditional consoles and PCs
Getting it into the hands of the customers, no doubt. Anyone who’s tested VR will be able to relate and understand what a VR experience is about, but the key to unlocking the market is really to get it into the hands of the user.