Virtual reality continues its push into Hollywood with the announcement today that the long-awaited sequel to Blade Runner will see accompanying VR content released around the film's launch in October 2017. At this stage what those VR experiences will entail is unknown, but due to an exclusivity agreement they will only be accessible on the Oculus Rift, furthering the increasingly heated platform war that seems to be brewing.
Hollywood's move into the VR sphere follows the well-trodden path of creating broader multi-platform content designed to crossover with film properties. Today's announcement at Oculus' big annual developer conference (covered in greater detail here) that the producers of Blade Runner 2049 have exclusively partnered with Oculus to make and distribute Blade Runner VR experiences also follows a well-trodden path – of companies looking to establish their platform as a de facto standard and muscle out the competition.
In July, Disney announced it would be moving Star Wars into the VR market and bringing on board David S. Goyer to create an exclusive VR film focussing on Darth Vader. Goyer is no novice in the Hollywood game having worked on Christopher Nolan's Batman series and the latest DC Superman movies. Disney also noted that its VR content will not be peripheral material, but significantly connected to the larger Star Wars universe depicted in the films.
At the same time a Star Wars VR experience entitled Trials Of Tatooine was launched on Steam, which, while short, was a fascinating insight into how virtual reality could excitingly integrate with big film franchises. Trials Of Tatooine was only accessible through the HTC Vive, pointing to a new platform war emerging between the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift with each company battling to secure exclusive rights to big Hollywood properties as the major entertainment players start to move into this new medium.
The Star Wars announcement in July didn't indicate whether Disney's future VR content will be exclusive to one platform, but alongside today's Blade Runner announcement it was also revealed that a deal between Disney and Oculus will see the development of VR experiences based on classic Disney characters.
There is no word on whether the Disney deal promises exclusivity to Oculus or whether other platforms will be included, but the next 12 to 18 months look to be dramatic as we watch multiple VR platforms battle for the biggest Hollywood properties.