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'Ghostbusters VR Experience' Released for PlayStation VR at $6.99

21 Mar, 2017 By: Stephanie Prange

(L-R): Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd and Sony executives Joe Burg, Jake Zim, Tracey Garvin and Katie Ullrich.

Who ya gonna call to help create a Ghostbusters virtual reality experience?

Sony Pictures called Ivan Reitman, the director of the original film.

“I helped on the story,” Reitman said at the March 20 launch on the Sony lot. “I had a lot to say about the characters and what they looked like and what they did. It’s basically a directorial job.”

Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd also showed up on the lot to greet fans, serve cake and pose for pictures.

In Ghostbusters VR — Now Hiring Act 1: Firehouse, available at $6.99 for the PlayStation VR, fans can explore the iconic firehouse, meet Mooglie and the mischievous Slimer, assemble and fire a photon pack, and explore the Ecto-1, among other experiences. The game utilizes the PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR headset and move motion controllers. More installments are on the way.

Like Sony’s recently launched Passengers: Awakening virtual reality experience ($9.99 for the HTC Vive and Oculus platforms), the Ghostbusters experience gives fans quests to complete, noted Jake Zim, SVP of VR for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“The way we think about VR production in the most macro sense is what agency are we giving the audience,” Zim said. “The audience is active in VR. They’re not passive. People put on a VR headset to do something, to be somewhere, to aspire to something.”

The Ghostbusters VR experience includes missions and games, but also challenges viewers to learn how to move and be active in the space. “You can pick up the donuts and throw them,” Zim said. “You can open the closets. There’s stuff there for you to touch and play with.”

It’s a whole new way to engage an audience, Reitman added.

“Everybody is exploring this new medium and trying to find what the rules of storytelling are and they’re complicated,” He said. “As somebody who’s been telling stories all of his life, trying to figure that out is fascinating.”

The VR rules are still somewhat of a mystery, the director said.

“There are no experts,” he said. “We’re back at silent movie times. Back then, there was a fear that if you cut to a close-up, people wouldn’t understand. But people get to understand this stuff very quickly and so I think there’ll be a whole series of innovations that will start to happen now. Now that we are starting to get these platforms that people have at home and there are smart, creative people approaching it, I think we’ll see all kinds of stuff start to evolve.”

Sony also is in the early stages of learning how to financially exploit this new market, experimenting with different pricing and platforms, Zim said.

“We are feeling it out,” he said, noting that Fox experimented with varied pricing on its Martian VR Experience.

“The pricing strategy is really let’s get as much data as we can [from gaming, home entertainment and other established markets],” Zim said. “Let’s quickly make some decisions about what we think is right. Let’s put our product out there. Let’s see what people say. Let’s see what our sales are. Let’s see how we do, and then let’s continue to build this business. I think the key strategy for us though is we’ve got to create a mindset where what we are making is good enough that people are paying for it. It’s gotta be. That’s the key.”

Ghostbusters VR — Now Hiring was produced by Sony Pictures Virtual Reality and Ghost Corps and was designed and executed by CreateVR, which was behind Sony’s The Walk VR experience.

It’s just the latest expansion of a franchise that has retained fans for more than three decades, spawning sequels, a 2016 female-powered reboot, merchandise and a location-based VR experience called Ghostbusters: Dimension, on which Reitman also collaborated.

What accounts for its lasting success?

“I think there’s something inherently endearing about the concept,” Reitman said.

“There is certainly the humor of the main characters in all three films that is endearing, but beyond that there’s the concept that ghosts are here, that it’s possible to trap them and to hold onto them somehow.”

About the Author: Stephanie Prange

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