Get Ready for IMAX VR Arcade

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by JAMIE FELTHAM • DECEMBER 30TH, 2016

Earlier this month we reported that IMAX’s first VR Centers, showing 360 degree companion content for films in cinemas, had been delayed into 2017, with no reason given. News from today could provide an explanation.

IMAX just launched a website for its flagship ‘IMAX Experience Center’, set to open in Los Angeles, and it looks like it’s seeing a big expansion. It doesn’t look like the center will be launching with the immersive film content the company had previously talked about, filmed using its own 360 cameras. Instead, the experiences listed to be on display largely consist of games that are either already available on, or coming to the HTC Vive, and the Vive itself will be used in the center alongside Starbreeze’s StarVR, the original headset that IMAX partnered with.

Specifically, towards the bottom of the page we can see Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, ILMXxLAB’s short demo that offers a taste of the Star Wars universe in VR. There’s also John Wick Chronicles, due for release on Vive this February, but actually published by Starbreeze itself. Survios’ Raw Data, Sourcenity’s Escape The Basement and Ubisoft’s Eagle Flight [Review: 7/10] will also feature, as will unreleased apps like Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids and Sony Picture’s The Walk.

The center is starting to sound like a VR arcade just as much as it is a viewing experience.

What the list doesn’t state is which of these experiences will be showing up on Vive, but the site does say the center will use “Room-tracking technology” for single and multiplayer experiences. You might assume room-scale software would be used with the Vive, though the top of the page shows two StavVR users in a Star Wars experience similar — but not identical — to Trials on Tatooine, wielding lightsabers. The page also mentions you’ll be able to “Face off against a Sith lord”, which you don’t do in the Vive experience.

This suggests StarVR might be getting both multiplayer and position-tracked controls at the very least. The headset’s own website notes the kit has position-tracking, but makes no mention of room-scale tracking. We’ve reached out to Starbreeze to see if the headset has had an upgrade on this front.

No launch date as been given, and the option to buy tickets for a visit is “Coming Soon”. We’ve reached out to IMAX too as there’s still a lot of questions to be answered about these pods. We’ll update this page when we have more information.

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