The variety of VR escape games: how to make a choice?

This article was originally published at Affinity VR

There exist different LB VR types which are hyper-reality, free roam (divided into warehouse and room-scale) with its fullest immersion of players into virtual worlds, and hand-tracking VR. It may be difficult to navigate through the variety of products and their characteristics to choose from, but the special checklist of categories can always help you. For instance, it’s important to pay attention to your audience, to the type of sessions that you would like to host in terms of groups or individual use and the total amount of players that you can host. Space-efficiency analysis also plays its crucial part because your profit depends on it. Additional aspects include the uniqueness of this or that product, the quality of the experience itself, players’ guiding through the gaming process, content exclusivity and the choice of partnership. All this will help to ensure your full preparation before opening your LB VR business.

 

VR escape is a game based on the real-life escape rooms’ business model. It’s of a room-scale; it doesn’t require a large space and appeals to a broader audience. VR escape game is cooperative, therefore it is great for group sessions, including group visits of friends, families, and colleagues.

History of the genre:

– August 2015 – the game COSMOS by Avatarico (ex-Lostroom) was released.

– In December 2016, Deadwood Mansion by Sandbox VR (ex-Glostation) was released

– In February 2017, Time Travel by Virtual Room was released

– In May 2017, Exit VR appeared and in the same year its Huxley was released 

– In November 2018, Ubisoft released Escape The Lost Pyramid

Note that a few companies will present themselves as the world’s first-ever developers of VR escape games. It’s connected either with word juggling (for example, one of the companies positions its game as an “adventure”) or with ignorance. But in fact, all these companies are indeed pioneers.

There are a few paths to follow: you can create your own VR escape game or buy a ready-made one if you don’t want to waste your time. Anyway, we offer you to have a look at this checklist and analyze it. The key points which require your attention are:

1) Cooperation

Some VR games need only one player to operate and reach the finish line without problems, but others won’t get you there without proper teamwork. If you can go through obstacles by yourself, then it may turn out that the game is not the escape one, since it lacks interaction between players.

2) Game duration

45 minutes are the best possible timeline to enjoy the gaming process. With such a scheme, you will have enough time to tidy up a room, choose the game and prepare for the next visitors. Every hour there is an opportunity to let players enjoy a wonderful pastime.

3) Definite goal

VR escapes are a team-based experience, so it should have a clear goal.

4) Interaction between players

While playing virtual reality escape game, players inside a team need to communicate with each other to win. That’s why the importance of interaction is so great. Players need to distinguish each other, to know the names, to be able to talk and discuss the necessary things. Any social feature would be great. For instance, in some games, players can smile at their friends and even hi-five.

5) Being a host

Hosting a session is an important aspect during a game, because any participant may have some difficulties. As a host, one should resolve any issue by hitting a button or talking to a player. 

6) Audience 

In contrast to VR arcades, escape games can attract a much broader amount of customers, which means you can have more profit from your business. It should be noted that these games are perfect for everyone regardless of age and gender, not only for geeks. Children, teenagers, and adults may have fun and play VR escape games. It’s a good idea for a birthday party, corporate event or just a pastime with friends and family. 

7) Exceptional experience

VR loses its point when players can have nearly similar experiences in the real world. The aim is to make VR games setting unique and memorable – outer spaces, aliens, traveling through time, shooting fireballs and fighting with enemies. Don’t follow a simple path, your visitors will remember it better not walking in a cave or a room.

Seated or walking?

Such type of virtual reality games as free-roam gives an opportunity to freely move around the playground. Players also can see their arms and legs during the gaming process and interact with each other. Gameplay becomes more pleasant with the help of wireless adapters, special VR backpacks, and a bigger area for walking. 

The drawback of it is that a game operator should constantly keep an eye on players since they can bump into each other, hit walls or other objects.

Another type is virtual reality games which are played in a seated position. Due to hand tracking technology, players can involve in the gaming process with their hands being free, so it’s a great advantage. It reminds an amusement park in some way: everyone screams, yells, laughs. All this happens when a person and their other teammates are comfortably sitting in a chair. Seated VR games are just like that. They are equally exciting and convenient.

When it comes to space-efficiency, seated games are the winners. It’s possible to host up to 6 players in 25 square meters. If you feel like the seated VR escape games are just for you, then we offer to have a closer look at such companies as Avatarico  (this one works mostly with Europe and Asia markets) and Entermission (Australia, The US, Mexico, Canada).

Since hand-tracking is what free hands VR implies, players can manipulate and enjoy gaming with bare hands. Here are some pros of that:

● Players get excited! When a person sees their hands like that for the first time being able to shoot fireballs, fly, etc., it’s always something miraculous.

● We are used to manipulating our hands. Thus, the interaction with bare hands in VR becomes easier and intuitive. 

● Players realize that it’s not a video game. They rather perceive VR escape as an attraction where everyone can have fun without limitations.

Capacity

The capacity aspect is closely connected to the profit. You should analyze the size of the space needed and the room’s workload to maximize the number of players. Space-efficiency here plays its role: the less space you need to host players the more profit you get.

Virtual room franchise hosts up to 4 participants. 

In its turn Ubisoft allows players to create teams of 2 or 4 players within the area of 35 square meters. ARVI company lets 6 users have fun restricted only by the area of 35 square meters. 

Avatarico`s experiences only require 25 sq. m for 6 players (seated games) and 35 sq. m. for 6 players (walking games).

Prices

If you plan to start with Virtual room, for example, at the beginning of your business you’ll spend at least $40k. Avatarico games require €22k: €13k go for the license fee and €9k for the hardware. 

Some games are offered by companies like ARVI, Exit VR, and others require payments after each gaming session or use incentivized compensation programs when employees get a percentage of the company’s profits. Their games are made for 4 players and require 35 sq. m. space.

When trying to compare these two alternatives, the first one pays off your in advance sum of money after one year of productive work, while the second one won’t let you do this even after a year since you are to pay for each session.

Partnership

Purchasing a product is a huge step towards your further development, but the second crucial thing on your way to success is a collaboration with another company. Choose wisely as your future may be defined by this. Pay attention to the company`s story of successful business development, the gaming diversity it may offer. Don’t forget to check reviews, NPS and is marketing or technical support available.

Ubisoft is the company that has PC gaming past and its various experiences like Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry are very popular. Ubisoft doesn’t have real-life escape games history and has only one year of experience as an LBVR provider. There is no data concerning the number of sessions during a week, ratings on Tripadvisor or NPS. There is no mention of distributors. Still, Ubisoft provided the software to 240 locations around the world. Certain marketing limitations consist of the use of approved materials only – you cannot set the most fruitful product in the first place on your website if it’s not a Ubisoft game. 

Virtual Room is a company made in France. Unlike Ubisoft, Virtual Room has three years of experience. A weekly number of sessions and NPS are not disclosed. The company doesn’t have distributors outside of France. The company has 5 out of 5 ratings on Tripadvisor along with 27 locations all over the world. Technical and marketing support is available.

Avatarico has a friendly company named Aventurico (ex-Lostroom) – which has real-life escape rooms background and run them in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona). Avatarico has experience of five years, 5 out of 5 ratings on Tripadvisor and over 50 locations across the globe. It also has a 50% NPS index, the number of sessions during one week reaches from 40 to 50, marketing and technical support are present. The company’s distributors provide turn-key solutions and training in the US, Europe, and Australia. 

We hope that this article was of great help. VR escape is a contemporary trend that evokes interest day after day. Approach your business plan, partnership and the peculiar aspects of VR escape games (equipment, space needed, space-efficiency, expenses, etc.) responsibly to create your company in the LB VR sphere and to manage work prosperously. 

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