Fox unveils VR experience based on 'Alien' films
- Fox opened a location-based virtual reality (VR) experience in a Southern California mall that immerses players in a computer-generated environment based on the "Alien" movies, Variety reported. "Alien: Descent" is a free-roaming VR game, meaning that players get outfitted with special wireless headsets to wear while walking around on a stage that has haptic cues, such as an elevator ride that feels real because of a moving platform. The experience tracks player movements with motion sensors attached to their arms and legs.
- Pure Imagination Studios and FoxNext Destinations, the location-based entertainment arm of 20th Century Fox's and Fox Networks' next-generation media unit, produced the experience that lets players imagine they've joined a squad of futuristic Marines that investigate a distress signal sent from a mining outpost overrun with deadly bug-like monsters.
- The goal, FoxNext president Salil Mehta told Variety, is to transform "linear lean-back entertainment" into next-generation storytelling.
While VR headset sales are growing at a slower-than-expected pace, pocation-based VR experiences are forecast to grow, making them an attractive option for film studios and other marketers looking to create immersive experiences intended to excite fans and extend the life of a TV show or movie. Futuresource Consulting this month estimated that experiences like "Alien: Descent" could be an $809 million market by 2022. Fox isn't the first studio to embrace this kind of location-based VR. Sony Pictures previously cooperated with The Void for a Ghostbusters-themed VR experience that plays in the Void's Times Square location.
Fox has previously experimented with VR versions of its movie properties, with mixed success. "The Martian VR Experience" based on a film combined movie content with games and puzzles, but received poor user reviews. To focus more on next-generation entertainment, Fox last year launched FoxNext as an umbrella unit for VR, gaming and location-based experiences from 20th Century Fox and the Fox Networks Group.
Some consumers may be familiar with VR after seeing it depicted in movies like "Ready Player One" and "The Matrix," but one continuing challenge in the space is that many people don't see the value proposition in buying pricey headsets. While VR and augmented reality (AR) are expected to transform how consumers live, work and play and make mobile tech more engaging, the International Data Corporation's estimates of headset sales signal that VR isn't taking off as quickly as some had hoped. AR, on the other hand, is seeing greater traction because the tech can be enabled on a smartphone, which most consumers already own.
FoxNext is focused on gaming for popular titles like "Alien" and "Planet of the Apes." FoxNext VR last year released a "Crisis on the Planet of the Apes" game for PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It also released "Marvel Strike Force" as its first mobile game earlier this year, signaling that it's experimenting with a mix of technologies to find what resonates best with consumers.