Let’s talk about opening a VR arcade. The usual trend for new tech entertainment is, try it outside of your house and once it is affordable, buy yours. Be it with TVs, consoles or all sort of headsets and earphones. Virtual reality is not following this same path, as originally, people bought these consoles for their homes, to be confined in a room and be transported somewhere else. VR Arcades are here to change things. Yet it is a huge challenge.
In the next few paragraphs we will try and discuss what makes VR Arcades special and how they can be improved. We will see what it takes to open a VR Arcade and how profitability per sqm meter is key in such places. We would also like to introduce a new position tracking technology that really puts the social in VR, and brings a more immersive and overall better experience than what we have today.
As much as VR appeals to people in their homes, it is frankly too expensive to be massive as of today. But putting the price aside, which will certainly fall in the upcoming years, we must look at the raw experience.
The VR Arcade experience
Is it fun to play in your room alone and interact with people over the internet? Well, yes. But do you know what is better? Interacting with your friends in the real world.
Is it cool to move around a 3m x 3m space and kill zombies? Well, yes. But do you know what is better? Moving around a 10m x 10m space and killing zombies.
Is it cool to play virtual reality even thought you are confined to a space and cannot do what you want to do? Well, yes. But do you know what’s better? The freedom to play with your friends and move completely unhindered in a vast space.
Now if there was only a place where you could go and experience VR in a new way. Take everything that you have seen and experienced before and play something fresh and innovative. Wait, there is. VR Arcade are places that offer this sort of experiences.
But these arcades do not offer the optimal experience that we described. At least, not yet. The huge problem with current VR arcades is the fact that in a few years when VR becomes accessible to everyone (price drops), they will become obsolete as customers would have this sort of tech in their homes. Also, we cannot forget that today, players visit these VR arcades and are forced to play alone.
Who offers this?
Most VR arcades today focus on having multiple stations that allow people to go and experience VR first hand. Almost none of them offer a large-scale multiplayer experience like the one we described. To offer such experiences, you need a reliable motion tracking system that is compatible to high end vr headsets or mobile vr headsets, that works in a large-scale environment, that allows multiple players to play together in the same room.
We happen to make one of these systems, and it is coming in nicely. We can already support up to 6 tags and we are aiming at 10 for the launch in the next one to two months. This means up to 3 or 5 players will be able to play a simple shooting game, where each player has a gun.
All about the experience
Now the cost for a position tracking system like ours is not incredibly high. The price is affordable and is a nice addition to any VR arcade, whether you have a 60m2 room or a 100m2 room available. The room doesn’t need to have windows or anything. In fact, an ideal room with high ceilings and absolutely nothing inside. How easy is that?
You cannot compare the freedom of being able to move around a room with your friends, with being stuck in a 3x3m station. This is the sort of out of home entertainment that gamers have been dying for. It is something that cannot be replicated inside your own house and you must go somewhere to experience it.
It’s like comparing watching a movie at home in your laptop or going to see it in the big screens. Or watching a basketball game at home versus going to the stadium.
Developers need to act now
This sort of experience isn’t available to everyone. Right now, we are looking for developers to take on the challenge and try experimenting with the technology. Opening a VR arcade is an incredible idea, and being able to adapt your experience to your needs is even better!
We have developed APIs that make adapting your games to our system incredibly easy. Any sort of game or experience developed with unity can be adapted in minutes.
Want to test what you have made? No problem, it is fast and easy. We have designed pack for exactly this sort of need. It comes with 2 cameras and 2 tags as well as a gateway. You can read more about what every piece of this set does here.
Is it worth it?
Of course, it is. Having 4 players in the same room saves you space and gives players a real sense of freedom. These experiences are more valuable to customers than straight up virtual reality experiences. Profitability per sqm is the key selling point of this sort of technology.
It is something that cannot be replicated at home. It’s added value comes from human interaction, the social aspect of this experience, as well as the ability to truly be transported to another world. Being able to walk is something extremely precious in virtual reality. You are not always stuck to the same place.
If we take this into account we can allow ourselves to charge more for this sort of experience. This extra revenue really knocks this solution out of the park, if you compare it to having traditional VR stations. In the end, it really comes down to what sort of experience you want your customers to have. Do you want them to play co-op or pvp games? What size of a room is ideal for them? These are all questions that you need to answer before you open a VR arcade.
Bring VR Arcade customers something fresh – VR Arenas
All in all, VR arcades are popping around the world really fast. Yet, we do not see many experiences like the ones we described here. These are commonly referred to as VR Arenas.
VR Arenas are places build specifically for large scale multiplayer experiences, be it to host co-op games or pvp games. The good news is that we are a few steps away from being able to provide such experiences to any sort of player. These business usually only focus on very few experiences and allow groups of people to book times and play together, much like a laser tag establishment.
Overall, opening such a VR Arcade, or adding this sort of entertainment to yours, or even building a VR Arena from the ground up. Our suggestion would be to start playing around with our system. A developer’s pack is available and is a great way to start developing with a low cost.