AR/VR Weekly: Can Transformers spark China’s AR/VR interest?

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Transform and roll out … and into your neighborhood virtual reality arcade. That’s what Transformers fan will soon be doing in China.

This week, Hasbro and DMG Entertainment announced they were launching augmented and virtual reality experiences around Transformers, the robots that turn into cars, warplanes, and dinosaurs. They’ve been a phenomenon in toy stores and on TV for decades, and Hollywood gave them more worldwide appeal with a new set of blockbuster films about 10 years ago (with Transformers: The Last Knight coming this summer).

In these AR and VR experiences, you’ll see Transformers engage in battle and sit in driving or flying simulators. I imagine this means jumping behind the wheel of Autobot leader (and all-around swell bot) Optimus Prime as a big rig or Decepticon suck-up Starscream as a jet.

But why is this in China? One could look at box office receipts from 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. It made $1.2 billion worldwide, with nearly one-fifth of that coming from China … in the first two weeks it was in that nation’s theaters. And market watchers think China is going to be the land of VR.

But not yet. As we reported today, China may be becoming increasingly indifferent to VR, with accounting for 11 percent of the market (the U.S. was first at 40 percent, followed by Japan). Most concerning is the Chinese viewpoint on buying VR games and apps: In a free-to-play nation rife with piracy, consumers in China aren’t ready to shell out for VR yet.

And with people concerned about making money in VR, this could be worse than trusting Lucy to hold the football for Charlie Brown.

For AR/VR coverage, send news tips to Dean Takahashi and Jeff Grubb (for those that cross over into PC gaming). Please send guest post submissions to Rowan Kaiser. Please be sure to visit our AR/VR Channel.

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—Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor

P.S. The future of the game show is going to be mixed … reality, that is.

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