James Murdoch-backed virtual reality (VR) startup The Void has teamed up with Sony Pictures Virtual reality to produce a new location-based VR experience, according to Curtis Hickman, the startup’s chief creative officer.
Hickman revealed the partnership in a conversation with Variety this week, during which he also outlined plans to bring more original IP to The Void locations. A Sony Pictures spokesperson subsequently confirmed the partnership, but declined to comment on the Sony franchise it will be based on.
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Hickman told Variety that his company had been very selective about the types of experiences that it was bringing to its VR centers. “There’s been big titles that we turned down,” he said.
The company launched its first centers with “Ghostbusters Dimension,” a title produced in partnership with Sony Pictures. It has since launched “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” in partnership with Disney, and is getting ready to launch another experience based on the Marvel cinematic universe.
At the same time, The Void has also been developing some of its own intellectual property, including “Nicodemus,” a horror-themed experience. Hickman said that the advantage of original IP was greater flexibility, and also explained that it helped the company to advance its own technology. For instance, some of the tech developed for “Nicodemus” ultimately found its way into “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” That’s why the company will continue to work on its own IP going forward, he said. “I think we will see more Void content in the future.”
The Void announced a massive expansion to 25 additional locations earlier this summer, and recently opened new locations in the World Trade Center in New York as well as the Westfield Centre in San Francisco. The latter (pictured above) is located on the 4th floor of the iconic San Francisco mall, with plans to move to a permanent location in the mall’s food court later this year.
Hickman said that the company’s new expansion was benefitting from the experience it was able to gather at its existing dozen locations across the U.S. as well as in Dubai. “We were learning a lot about the business,” he said. For instance, the company streamlined its on-boarding experience, and ditched self-serve kiosks in favor of a more personal concierge experience.
The Void is also looking to further improve its hardware, and make its VR backpacks lighter in order to accommodate younger visitors. Hickman said that the company had also been experimenting with using additional trackers for full-body tracking, but ultimately decided against it as the benefits didn’t outweigh the additional complexity. Said Hickman: “You don’t want the experience get in the way of the guest having fun.”