The Future of VR Arcades

July 19, 2017

At Fun VR Tech we are great proponents of VR arcades, and today we’d like to offer you a SNEAK PEAK INTO THE FUTURE of VR-dedicated spaces. 

Going to the arcade was de riguer throughout the early 1980s before home video game consoles took hold. Arcade machines held steadfast in malls and recreational establishments throughout the 1990s but are experiencing a major comeback. However, this time there’s VR involved and it’s looking like major change is coming. VR arcade machines are intensely popular in China with thousands of units available to play nationwide and helped spur a global interest in this type of gaming. Even IMAX is now getting interested in VR arcades, with plans to open 11 parlors around the world dedicated to delivering incredible panoramic VR experiences.

Moreover, VR arcade machines are currently seeing explosive growth throughout North America as the two gaming trends intertwine– VR itself and retro-style arcade machines making a comeback in gaming spaces and even peoples’ homes– and the current shift to arcade machines could even help VR become even stronger in the amusement market. We wrote about how VR arcades can get ahead using Omni treadmills in our article.

VR Has MORE HORSEPOWER in Gaming Spaces than the Home

VR arcade machines have been around in some incarnation since the 1990s. As VR technology has taken hold in more households in recent years what with more economically accessible headsets like the HTC Vive, games and accessories designed for the home VR experience have gone through boom and bust cycles. VR equipment manufacturers like Vive have noticed that VR games and accessories are experiencing more economic stability in entertainment complexes than equipment designed for home use.

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The rise of “bar-cade” type establishments (some even using this exact name) is significantly on the rise in North America and many of the patrons of these spaces are hungry for fun VR experiences in addition to classic arcade games. People who don’t have the time or resources to build their own arcade cabinets at home get to enjoy having drinks and playing arcade games with their friends in arcade-bar setups, and this trend is expected to hold steady for some time.

What Does This Mean for VR Developers?

Vive believes that by focusing on VR arcades throughout North America, it will spur the sale of home VR headsets and games. That if more people see this technology in public, namely entertainment spaces that they don’t have to maintain, they’ll get interested and purchase the hardware designed for home use. Subsequently, VR developers will have a bigger audience than they do now.

Additionally, VR developers have the option to license their games out to larger distributors so that they will gain immense audiences through arcades.

With many game developers turning to designing VR experiences in the face of the indiepocalypse and intense market saturation in the PC and console spaces, VR arcades address the “too many games” conundrum beautifully. The gaming space curates the rotation of VR arcade experiences on the premises, and it’s meant to be a fun and/or social experience the player is fully immersed in with no distractions to stop them like what often curtails gameplay time in the mobile and PC spaces.

The Imminent Future of VR Arcades in North America

With the older end of the Millennial generation nostalgic for games played in arcade cabinets while hungry for new and innovative gameplay, the audience is vast enough for VR arcade growth to hold steady. North American audiences are also looking for different experiences to have when socializing with friends and the success of the bar-cade model has been taking hold all over the United States.

Entertainment complexes for children are also increasing the demand for quality VR experiences and hardware, but shopping malls in particular are also making a resurgence just like the arcade experience. Malls have been dying in the United States as more of the population moves to cities and online shopping continues to eclipse the brick and mortar experience. With VR arcades taking up empty space in malls, the mall itself is now making a comeback.

Brick and mortar businesses and game developers alike are seeing positive benefits from this increased exposure to VR games that we will expect it will also increase the demand for VR hardware.

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We are ready to support this demand with our turn-key Omni Arena systems, which you can find out about at this link.