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HTC Wants to Use Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ to Sell Virtual Reality to the Masses

Variety logo Variety 3/27/2017 Janko Roettgers
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HTC has entered a worldwide partnership with Warner Bros. to exclusively distribute virtual reality (VR) experiences for the studio’s upcoming “Ready Player One” sci-fi movie, which is being directed by Steven Spielberg and is set to be released on March 30, 2018. HTC Virtual Reality SVP Rikard Steiber told Variety that the partnership could be a break-through moment for his industry: “This movie could be defining VR to the broader public.”

“Ready Player One” is based on the Ernest Cline novel by the same title, which has been hailed by many in the VR industry as a seminal piece of writing about virtual worlds. “It is going to be an epic movie,” said Steiber, who’s had a chance to read the script.

Steiber argued that “Ready Player One” could help VR with what he called the “Matrix problem”: The medium is hard to describe to consumers who haven’t used a headset yet. “You have to take the pill to experience it,” Steiber said.

As part of the partnership, HTC will distribute VR experiences through its Viveport platform for both the HTC Vive headset, as well as mobile devices. “Ready Player One” VR will also be available at film festivals and other events, and the company is looking to make some of the material available to VR arcades through its B2B platform for location-based VR.

Steiber didn’t go into details about the nature of the experiences, but said that at least some of it will be available before the movie opens.

He also said that HTC is looking to make “Ready Player One” content available to mobile headsets in the U.S., hinting at bigger plans for mobile virtual reality. Currently, HTC is operating a mobile version of its Viveport store within China, but Steiber said that it aims to be “device-agnostic” and target mobile VR platforms elsewhere as well. “We are looking to bring mobile experiences around the world.”

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