Movie Tie-In games used to be a major staple of big tentpole releases until quite recently. What made them stand out was, for the most part, they were terrible. Now we only really have the Lego games that carry on this tradition, but it seems that Virtual Reality is making official tie-ins come back. Unfortunately, even though there have been some fantastic examples, there have been some not-so-good ones as well.
VR movie and TV tie-ins
Ever since it became apparent that Virtual Reality was not going to disappear overnight, the marketing opportunities of VR have been discussed over and over again. Movie Tie-Ins were an inevitable inclusion. After all, VR has been proven to give a more emotional response. There have been a lot of experiences that have received very positive responses. The Mr Robot VR experience, for example, has gotten nothing but praise. Westworld, which is shaping up to be HBO’s big Game of Thrones replacement, has likewise wowed audiences. You would think then that there is a winning formula going on with VR. Or, that the medium could do no wrong.
However, this is not the case. Reviews are coming in for the VR tie-in to last year’s Sci-fi film The Martian. The experience is being sold for S$29 on the HTC Vive. Apparently, it’s not very good. Press Start, for example, have been complaining about the high price, lack of interactive content and slapdash nature overall of the product. Rock, Paper Shotgun, UploadVR and other outlets are likewise being heavily critical of the product. Interestingly, a lot of criticism is around expecting more from the VR experience. We have had enough VR experiences released to know when they are not as good as they are meant to be.
It would be very alarmist even to suggest that this could mean the end of VR. After all, it’s just one movie tie-in for a year-old film. Yes, bad games have managed to cause significant problems in the past, but this is not the same. If anything, this is a positive development. VR is being taken seriously and considered beyond the gimmick. Holding the medium to a higher standard will make sure that the high-quality experiences stand out. At least, that is the hope. The lesson might be that studios are not allowed to charge significant amounts for their VR experiences. Considering the limited capabilities of this demo this is an honest criticism, but there is room for it to be misconstrued.
In any case, the number of VR experiences on the Vive just keep on increasing. Just in time for when the headset becomes available in Singapore, instead of paying the crazy shipping costs.