Despite major efforts from the likes of Facebook's Oculus Rift and Samsung's Gear VR, virtual reality is still a largely niche technology.
But one entertainment group has decided that VR is indeed the future of entertainment and plans to build an entire live experience around the technology in China.
Developed by the Landmark Entertainment Group, the company behind immersive entertainment experiences such as Universal’s "Jurassic Park: The Ride," and "The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman 5D," the L.I.V.E. Centre (Landmark Interactive Virtual Experience) will offer roughly 30% of its entertainment for visitors as virtual reality content.
The experiences will include a virtual zoo, a virtual aquarium and complimentary components such as an interactive museum and a digital art gallery.
"PETA saw an early presentation of the virtual zoo and they loved it,"
Tony Christopher, CEO and founder of Landmark, told Mashable. Describing his own, less than favorable experiences with his family at the zoo, he says, "I believe that it isn’t politically correct to have animals in a zoo."
Aside from the land and the building, the project will cost around $200 million to complete and has the support of a group of private investors supported by the Chinese government.
"They have a huge market there, and they have money to spend to build [it]," says Christopher, when asked about the reasoning behind launching the company's first major VR effort in China, instead of the U.S.
As for content, Christopher says it will be a mixture of history and culture specific to both China and the world, including popular western icons and art.
The illustrations, created by concept artist Syd Mead (who worked on major science fiction films like Blade Runner, Tron and the recent Tomorrowland), don’t show the visitors wearing VR headsets, but the company has confirmed that VR headsets will be a part of the experience.
"We’re binging in people from the game world and people with a good working knowledge of VR," says Christopher. "We’ll probably use the Unity or Unreal game engine."
Eventually, the company wants to port its virtual reality experience to home users. "We intend to create a product, something to get people to use VR on a daily basis, with the dream of having a VR portal," says Christopher.
A specific location for the L.I.V.E. Centre is still being decided upon, but the current frontrunners include the Chinese cities of Xi'an, Chengdu and Wuhan.
Currently, there are no plans to open a VR complex in the U.S., but Christopher hopes to launch a similar, U.S.-based VR project around 2020. The China-based L.I.V.E. Centre is slated to open in the summer of 2017.