Warner Bros. partners with HTC Vive for ‘Ready Player One’ VR content

HTC's Vive recently partnered with Lowe's on its VR Holoroom. Image: Lowe's

Warner Bros. Pictures and HTC Vive have a strategic partnership in place for the Vive to be the exclusive device for all “Ready Player One” virtual reality content.

The Steven Spielberg-directed “Ready Player One,” adapted from the book by Ernest Cline, takes place largely inside a VR simulation so it was likely inevitable that VR companion content would be a part of the release. The film is hitting theaters worldwide on March 30, 2018.

Vive is set to produce multiple pieces of VR content tied to the film and the content will be available to users through Viveport, which will distribute the content globally across all VR in-home platforms. Vive is also planning content for its Viveport Arcade platform and for VR experiences and games at global consumer events through the year.

“The virtual reality world within ‘Ready Player One’ is extremely advanced, sophisticated and engaging, and with Vive, we chose the best system to represent the future of VR. Vive is the perfect partner to bring that to life and also has the broadest reach to global markets for the use of VR in home, mobile and offline channels,” said Blair Rich, president of worldwide marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures, in a statement.

“’Ready Player One’ is one of the most anticipated movies in the world, and has tremendous potential to engage and entertain the worldwide market, showcasing the transformative nature of VR, and what it can and will be,” said Rikard Steiber, president of Viveport, in a statement. “Vive is delivering on the promise of VR and continues to be the most advanced and immersive VR experience available to consumers, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Warner Bros. to bring these experiences to consumers, on all platforms, around the globe.”

RELATED: Warner Bros., Legendary investments in Magic Leap’s VR may not immediately pan out, report says

Warner Bros. has been active in advancing the availability of VR content. Warner Bros., along with Legendary Entertainment, were two high-profile media companies that contributed to $1.4 billion in funding for VR startup Magic Leap. Though it’s unclear how Magic Leap will be able to compete if and when it comes to market and goes up against HTC, Sony, Microsoft, Oculus, Google, and others with headsets already available.

With the rush of VR hardware, there’s a real concern that content won’t be able to keep pace, according to analyst firm CCS Insight.

“Despite the sharp increase in the number of companies exhibiting, little appears to have moved on in 12 months,” wrote CCS Insight. “The focus on hardware indicates an urgent need for greater attention to be paid to software and content if the technology is going to move beyond early adopters and fulfill its potential in the near term.”

More VR content will be needed if VR headset sales are to continue on the growth path that some have forecast.

Research firm IDC predicted that VR headset device shipments will hit 99.4 million units in 2021, up from the 10.1 million units shipped last year. The uptick represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58% across five years.