The Fox Innovation Lab are all set to finally release their virtual reality tie-in with last year’s sci-fi blockbuster The Martian starring Matt Damon to a VR headset near you as the title launches tomorrow on both PlayStation VR and SteamVR platforms.

I was lucky enough to go hands-on with The Martian VR Experience at CES at the beginning of the year and came away impressed, entitling the article on the experience “A Triumph in Motion.” At the time, the platforms I trialed it on (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift with Touch) were still months from release and as a result, despite the high level of finish and polish evident in what I saw, Fox Innovation Lab (the VR-focused division at 20th century fox tasked with building the title) have waited until now to launch.

Hands On: The Martian VR Experience is a Triumph in Motion

The Martian VR Experience represented at the time the best experience of its kind I’d yet seen, that is, an application that designed as an accompaniment an original film – a good old fashioned movie tie-in. Unlike many other examples of primarily marketing-lead immersive attempts that we’ve seen since VR’s renaissance began, The Martian VR Experience represents an offering that works as standalone entertainment and at the same time, it manages to push expectations of visual fidelity and polish for applications of these types up a notch or two.

Executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Robert Stromberg, The Martian VR Experience is described as “an interactive, immersive adventure with viewers participating from astronaut Mark Watney’s perspective, performing tasks that will facilitate his chances for survival.” Players get to fly through the Mars atmosphere in zero gravity, grapple with Watney’s all-terrain rover, there’s also snippets of the film thrown into the mix to remind you of the original inspiration behind the experience.

“I’ve always tried to approach film-making from the standpoint of creating an immersive experience. Now with the tools that are available to us in virtual reality, we can raise the bar even higher. The audience can experience storytelling in ways we previously could only imagine,” said Ridley Scott, Executive Producer of The Martian VR Experience and co-founder of RSA Films. “Mars has never been closer to being within our grasp and I’m so thrilled that we can invite people into The Martian VR Experience.” Scott himself narrates the new launch video for the experience too, which you can watch embedded above.


Director of The Martian VR Experience and co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of The Virtual Reality Company said “With The Martian VR Experience, we were able to take Ridley’s cinematic vision and create an immersive VR experience that gives people the ability to be Mark Watney, to face his struggles, experience his successes, as if they were part of the film.”

The Martian VR Experience will be available from November 15th on PlayStation VR and on SteamVR for the HTC Vive. No mention of support for the Oculus Rift, but given the reliance on motion controls it’s likely this will appear later once Oculus Touch has found its way into users homes next month. The experience will be priced at $19.99 on release, which may present a high price for those looking for hours and hours of gameplay in return for their money. We’ll have impressions on the final release version of the experience and on whether we believe it’s worth the cash soon.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • Zach Mauch

    So about how long is the experience here? Honestly, even in the early days I really feel like we should be getting at least 30 min for each dollar spent. Maybe an hour.

    • DiGiCT Ltd

      $20 is not a high price, try to make it yourself you will know how much effort it cost.
      There are thousand of man hours been put into it already for sure, and you are talking about a few minutes.
      It is good that there are devs will to make content for such a low price, they deserve some support and respect, without them your Device is useless afterall.

      • Zach Mauch

        Wow, you kinda just made a lot of negative assumptions about me when all I did was ask a simple question. I understand very well the effort involved as I’m an engineer myself and have written several programs. I leave it at that.

        • DiGiCT Ltd

          Not realy but my sum based on your ask is 20×30 minutes for the expierence lo, as each dollar spent vs minutes is huge time :D
          It would be 10 hours for $20, even a cinema does not provide that kinda time for your money.

      • Nein

        Quit sounding so passive aggressive. $20 is a high price no matter how much blood and sweat went into the production. That’s irrelevant. When you are paying for the equivalent of a dam fancy theater
        ticket for a short seated experience, 30 minutes is hardly as long as the trailers. VR as of right now, is a very
        expensive hobby. From the barriers of entry to buying a few simple
        games. And now that we are starting to get some 3D movies, as early
        adopters we have to pay a literal price.

      • Torreth

        What a ridiculous argument. You can say that for every single product that is available to the public. How much should a playstation 4 cost? Since an average consumer could never create one, should they cost a million dollars each? This game will be extremely valuable for the future of VR, but not because it is worth it, but because it will draw a line that will show developers what they cant get away with when it comes to prices.

        • DiGiCT Ltd

          Your argument is good you want to say, we are talking for this game $20 is not expensive and you go offtopic talking about a PSVR and millions of dollars ? lol
          There is no line for developers anyone can ask whatever they feel fit for it, even when it would be a million it does not mean people will buy it, you still have choice not to buy it.
          I think this game looks good and the price for $20 is fine, i did not say anything wrong about this game, you must be confusing me with someone else.
          Ofcourse people cant make a lot of stuff by themselves, it takes a team of people to make good stuff like that, thats why i say again $20 is not much do the maths.
          If they would have worked on it for 1 month only with a team of 10 people, it mean 10x say 2k salary ends up to 20k labour cost.
          This means they need to sell 1k pieces just to get the labour cost out.
          Ofcourse this is way underestimated as salaries are higher and more time is needed for a game like this too, not included taxes, platform revenue deduction, elextricity, office rental, equipment needed for all those people to work etc etc.

          So again $20 is not expensive. and that was my point.
          If you still think its ridiculous, run your own company just like me and you will see how much it cost already before you have actually something ready to sell.

          We will ask $20 for our releases minimal and that even in early access, there are many titles even for $60 which look less intresting as the one mentioned in this article IMO.

          • Bitch please, who cares if $20 is not expensive. What are you even trying to do by saying that? It does not help your argument at all.

            So go ahead, ask for $20 minimal, people are just gonna wait for a price drop and a sale of 75% off minimal or resort to piracy.

            Your hard labor means absolute NOTHING if you provide a shitty experience or a less than $20 experience for $20.

            All the customer cares about is getting his moneys worth, not overpaying because $20 isn’t a lot of money. If you go by that logic, why not buy all the shitty or overpriced or lackluster games which you have some interest for for $20.

            It adds up and feels like a big waste of money and thats the point, wasting money. Many folks don’t like wasting money so they don’t buy it until the price meets their satisfaction.

            So go ahead, pric $20 minimum. You’re gonna drop that price anyway and if not, you are gonna put it on sale for 75% off or more eventually.

            heck, it’s gonna end up in a humble bundle and a much much cheaper price, maybe $3-$5 for your game as a few others or $1.

            So folks don’t need to bitch about the price, they need only patience, so they are trying to help you when they say the price is too high.

            So drop the damn attitude and appreciate the interesting into any game or horse shit you make.

            In this day n age especially with steam and the forefront, the pay what you want thing is here to stay with all the sales and price drops happening faster to games that don’t fly off the shelf.

            Battleborn ended up on the Humble Bundle after 1-2 months.

            Battlefield and Titanfall is already half off on sale.

            Folks don’t even need to bitch about price.

            It’s only a matter of time before Martian and any game you make to be up on sale for 50% off or more and for the price to drop especially due to low demand.

            Have a nice day :)

          • DiGiCT Ltd

            1st im sorry to tell you that you cant refer to me as bitch, I’m not you mum just to let you know in case you forgot.
            2nd people always waste money, and the biggest one is drinking alcohol which you just get rid off within a few hours.
            People always waste money, and always like to nagging about too high prices, or want special offers.
            The reality however is that good stuff keeps it value and a special offer is rare.
            The top rated VR titles will be much higher priced as they are worth the money.
            3rd also selling prices in the start already calculated on users waiting for 50% drop so it is smart to just ask double price on release, you still will get what you wanted in the start for it.
            The creator is the owner, you can ask whatever you want for what you create.
            You mention just those quality aaa games which go around for many years like BF, COD and other like that.
            They dont really offer much new anymore . mostly just similar gameplay as the previous ones.
            VR however is a new platform where the way of playing games is different and therefor you dont buy an upgraded game but rather a total new game.
            Well that is at least when a dev does not just port it to VR ofcourse.
            I’ve been since doom an huge FPS fan, nearly all of those i bought actually on release and even from shelf boxed, however in VR I really stay away from FPS games as it really does not fit with current locomotion.
            Titles like fantastic constraption however are realy a VR game, there is no way you can ever enjoy it the same way on a screen as in VR.

            You might just think different about it, or even a waiter for special offers price drop, I am all fine with that.
            I dont wait for special offers as when i want it and the price seems fair to me, I just go for it.
            And yes even games which are “crap” as they are a good example for me to see where it went wrong, pure for my own R&D, it is good to learn from other mistakes isn’t it ?

            Pricedrops in general are fictional, if they are not for a certain product it is just pure desperation of not having reached the expected sales amount IMO.

            As we all know gameportals like STEAM is also full off trolls, any kid can vote and post, and for kids everything is expensive.
            However in VR most users are actualy not the kids atm but those people which are 20 + and having a job as the entire system + hmd is too expensive for kiddo’s
            The only one which is doable is the PSVR for them in most cases at this moment.

            High end VR will always be higher priced, as well for the games as well for the equipment.
            Thats with everything in this world like that, why should VR be an exception ?

            It is clear to me you like pricedrops and yes for games its a matter of time they drop in price, I agree for that part.

          • It isn’t the $20 thats expensive, it’s the $20 for something worth less or folks feel is worth less than $20.

            A dev has to right to price how he wants, but that does not mean it’s the right price.

            Seen many reviews where the reviewer feels this and that game isn’t worth the price and he has a job.

            No Man’s Sky is a perfect example. So is Mighty #9.

            So many games are more expensive than their worth.

            So when folks talk about a game being too expensive try not to be pessimistic about it and think it’s just children that can’t afford anything.

            VR is indeed high end, but tolerance for overpriced games won’t always be very high.

            There are already folks having issues getting VR, last thing they want or need is to pay a lot more for content worth less than it’s value…

            You seem to have a pessimistic view of Steam users, well, to be fair, the internet is full of trolls. Deal with it. Steam has always been about sales, not it’s users.

            And it’s the folks here that don’t like the price of this games. And there are steam users who enjoy a game despite saying they feel they over paid. Have some more faith in folks.

            It’s not black n white.

          • DiGiCT Ltd

            Agree on this post you put.
            Its the same as movies, like my wife there is no way she likes to see any horror movies, but for me they are boring and for an other they are awesome.
            That’s why it is hard to say what it is worth, or if it has its value, people differ a lot on emotion and style etc.
            My indication for $20 on this title here is pure on what efford been put into it, i dont check if it is a nice game or just anything like that, as that would be personal taste.
            My view is to look if those devlopers realy did their best and worked hard for it to try to make something for people, rather then just a simple quick put together game with low poly art.
            For example i cant imagine “job similator” is so much worth, the art is so simple and the gameplay also in general you just trow stuff out of boredom.
            If this game was a mobile VR game i would say it is good, but for highend no way.
            I got it with my preorders, but for sure i would never have bought it.
            On the other hand if you look at stuff like “The Blue” it is even a more small expierence, but the times you want to go into that again and again is just amazing, it is so much detailed and it feels you are realy into that world.
            For me art is really an important thing for VR, more as on normal game platforms.
            Minecraft in VR for me just dont work, at least not as they sell it, it needs mods to make it look better, then i can say it is getting more to my liking.
            The VGA cards and HMD will improve a lot upcoming years, and so will art become a real requirement for VR.
            My worth the value is neutral, pure based on business point of view, if they did make it good looking but it lacks gameplay or whatever, i like to support them so they can go on with their work, and who knows their next title will be better….
            Devs whom work hard and try to make it just deserve support IMO and the ones whom dont are the ones making stufff like tohse roller coasters if you get my point of view ;-)

    • DougP

      Re: “30 min for each dollar spent. Maybe an hour”
      By that rationale, $70 AAA-titles should give us 70 hours of playtime/experience?
      Also, VR titles are demonstrably more challenging to make at this point in time (optimizing, as well as other potential features such as tracking/motion control input) & thus more expensive to make “per min of experience”.
      As well – smaller user base to make up your dev costs = higher cost per min.

      I get the gist of what you’re saying, but at the same time think that it should really come down to the quality of what you get. Bang-for-buck(minute).
      I’d rather have a well polished & impressive 30min experience than a 2hr mediocre one for the same money.

      $20 does seem quite the *premium* if we only get 30min. BUT…if it blows us away in quality/polish, I’m still happy to pay that for:
      1) My own experience (possibly repeat viewing?)
      2) Probably more than half my enjoyment of getting VR is putting friends & family – so a 30min demo is also great for this purpose

      Vote with dollars –
      As more people own VR systems, & those of us “early adopters” pay for premium content (show industry we’re interested & willing), prices will come down. Economies of scale & all.

      Lastly, Steam has a great return policy. IF you buy this & feel disappointed (not worth it, won’t repeat play/share w/others) – refund is an option.

      • Nein

        False equivalence. Time loses value the bigger it gets so a AAA $70 game should satisfy with a minimum ~20 hours of gameplay. Not 70 hours. Which even THAT is rare nowadays.

        • DougP

          “false equivalence” – I don’t think that means what you think it means.
          I simply applied OP’s logic rationale to a $70 AAA title.
          OP did NOT say anything about boundaries (time or upper limit) on the “$1 per 30min-1 hour” nor endorse your “Time loses value” argument. I did NOT invent some “new category”, “all those $500 games that should be 500 min”. $70 is the new norm for top tier AAA titles.

          Re: ” Time loses value the bigger it gets so a AAA $70 game should satisfy with a minimum ~20 hours ”
          You make this statement as if it’s a matter of *fact*, when it’s completely subjective …. & your ~20 hours is completely arbitrary.
          False ….pulling stuff out of one of your orifices argument.

      • Thong Phan

        I personally enjoy polished games that are short. I don’t want 20 hour+ games, especially in VR where physical fatigue actually sets in.
        $20 is not much and even if I get 2-3 hours of experience I’d be perfectly happy. Robinson the Journey is more expensive, and Everest VR is literally like 30 mins. You can’t compare an entirely new medium with well-established ones like theaters and ps4 games that have potential audiences in the millions.
        Remember, there are only what, 200k Vives in the wild? They have to price these early experiences higher if they want any hope of actually breaking even on these.

    • yag

      The average “cost per hour” of video games is much higher than that, not even speaking of VR games.

  • yag

    We also are still waiting for The Hobbit VR Experience.

  • MW

    Short,expensive,boring. As 90% of VR content. For free? Maybe. For 20usd? No!

  • Dave

    Title misleading, Steam has this available for Oculus Rift users as well.