Game of Thrones May Be Over, but a New VR Experience Takes Fans Beyond the Wall

While the game is 7 or 8 minutes, that varies—depending on how long you stay alive

The Game of Thrones isn’t over yet—at least not in virtual reality.

On the heels of the show’s series finale, HBO and HTC are releasing a short VR game that lets fans enter the world of Westeros.

“Beyond The Wall”—which debuts today on HTC’s Viveport for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets—lets fans fight along the northern border of The Seven Kingdoms to defend the wall against an undead polar bear and a horde of zombie-like creatures known as wights.

Sabrina Caluori, evp of digital and social marketing at HBO,  said the VR game was originally located in AT&T stores as a location-based experience. The game, created in collaboration with Framestore, is just seven or eight minutes, but that varies depending on how long players can stay alive.

“It was an opportunity for us to place our users in the time of the show,” Caluori said. “But we also knew that life above the wall and the interaction with the undead and the white polar bear was something that fans would want to relive even after the season. We thought it would be an engaging experience for them to fight them yourself even after you saw the series ended.”

This isn’t the first time HBO has used emerging technology like VR to promote the show. A few seasons ago, the company created a Game of Thrones VR experience at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. For this season, HBO worked with Framestore to create an experience on Magic Leap headsets that let fans fight off creatures in a mixed-reality environment.

According to Rikard Steiber, president of Viveport and svp of VR at HTC Vive, the game’s debut is also meant to help promote Viveport—a “Netflix of VR” subscription-based service that lets users play hundreds of VR games for a monthly fee of $12.99.

According to Steiber, there are more than 600 games already on Viveport, and titles like Game of Thrones give fans something unique to discover on the service.

“One of the problems we’ve seen along the way is as a consumer you only have so much money and so much time, but there are thousands of titles,” he said. “You can’t really buy them all. But since it’s early in the development of this media, it’s really hard to know what’s great or what’s not.”

Although VR hasn’t yet taken off to a mainstream audience, recent VR titles from Game of Thrones and Star Wars are helping to raise the profile of the technology and show how it can immerse people into their favorite stories. The release of headsets that don’t require a PC—such as HTC’s Vive Focus and Facebook’s Oculus Quest—also help with mobility and price issues that continue to be a barrier for many.

VR hasn’t had its breakthrough moment yet, but Steiber said he thinks more yet-to-be-announced titles will increase the appetite of consumers leading into the fourth-quarter holiday season.

When asked the question of whether content investment or hardware sales need to happen first for VR to go more mainstream, he said at this point it’s all about content.

“Developers are able to use the whole pallet of the media and combine that with strong IP where you bring it to these worlds,” Steiber said. “I think that’s where we are. I don’t think we’ve had our House of Cards moment yet … We’re still searching for that breakthrough title.”