Immersive Entertainment Preps The Retail Industry's Rebirth

Immersive Entertainment Preps The Retail Industry's Rebirth
November 3, 2020
Image courtesy of Area 15.


Plenty of immersive entertainment has emerged on the amusement landscape, COVID-19 notwithstanding. Venues featuring VR pop-ups, motion simulation experiences and more are opening for consumers anxious for excitement.


New developments are still a focus of the reopening entertainment landscape. Plans and projects that were in fruition during 2019 are still being launched, even if with a six-month hiatus in the middle. One such example is Area15 — labelled as an "experiential art, retail and entertainment complex" — this over-200,000-square-foot location, in the heart of Las Vegas, has started its post-COVID re-emergence.


The venue owners have partnered with several partners/tenants, along with the anchor tenant, Meow Wolf, and plans to open the immersive "Omega Mart" grocery store experience — a 52,000-square-foot entertainment installation developed by the company, famous for its unique art installations. Alongside this is the reveal of "Wink World: Portal'," a 1,500-square-foot music, color and art installation developed by the co-founder of Blue Man Group.


Other partners in Area15 include a dedicated entertainment offering with unique immersive, playing as a major part in the venue. It was revealed that an installation of the VR flying simulator, "Birdly," will be part of the mix, along with the first installation of a dual-track electric suspension ride. These are just some of the 14 installations, all supporting arts and crafts, outdoor drinking and dining, and art installations for an elect mix.


Vegas on a roll

Speaking of Las Vegas and its continuing love affair with immersive entertainment, U.K.-based Immotion announced the opening of its latest VR installation with the "Undersea Explorer Virtual Reality Theater" at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The experience installed is described by the company as a syncing 360-degree stereoscopic VR with dynamic motion seating, for the ultimate below-the-sea adventure. Immotion has created the new VR theater with an immersive interactive pre-show area. The company still has links to Leke VR, but is now focusing more on its own developments.


The company also announced the deployment, across all its VR installations, of its health and safety plan, with hand sanitization stations throughout, physical distancing, cleaning and sanitizing.


All this and the use of the new UV-C system for the Deepoon VR headsets — a portable system that was developed initially for the needs of this project, but has now been spun into its own range of proprietary UV anti-bacterial cleaning cabinets called Uvisan.


Pop-up VR popping up

The development of pop-up installations employing the latest VR has also become a concept that seems to be gaining traction. This was previously seen with the "Vader Immortal: Lightsaber Dojo" by Nomadic and ILMxLabs, deployed last year, or more recently with the Spree Interactive and ProSieben launched "Mission to Mars" attraction at Forum Schwanthalerhöhe, Germany.


The ability to have an immersive experience to act as a draw to a "stir crazy" audience looking for experiential entertainment is a factor governing many new marketing projects.


Virtual Room, a developer of turnkey solutions for location based entertainment, announced the launch of "Camp Tour VR," developed in partnership with BNP Paribas, a VR escape game experience set on the moon, with four players using tethered HTC VIVE Pro headsets, as they work as a team to escape the celestial body. The system has been developed as a pop-up temporary installation at 15 campus locations.


Immersive motion simulation

Regarding immersive motion simulation, the VR arcade scene received another boost in available content to entice the re-emerging marketplace with the news that the highly popular "SimRacing" experience, "Project Cars Pro," by Slightly Mad Studios (published by Codemasters) has now been taken up for the Springboard VR platform.


The facility management and licensed VR arcade content platform has signed an agreement with the games developers to add to their library the LBE version of the highly realistic racing car simulator for virtual reality deployment — supporting a number of the various SimRacing setups.


The game is well known in esports circles, and is now available through Springboard VR to VR arcade operators, optimized to suit the needs of their commercial operations.


Motion seat simulators in motion

Motion seat simulators have been a growing aspect of the digital out-of-home entertainment armory. All of the recent trade events have sported at least one example of the motion seat rig linked to a dedicated racing experience. And even while the trade exhibitions have been on a hiatus, the development houses have continued to hone their art.


Developer AMEGA Entertainment teased us with its latest development, with "Motionseat" — a 2DoF motion platform and race seat combination offering intense racing simulation. The system is able to be networked together with an up-to-four cockpit, while players compete on an F1 inspired competition represented on a giant screen.

Creating compelling simulation which employs immersive technology has been a driving factor in the development of this technology. Well known network sports simulator developers, CXC Simulators, a regular in our IAAPA coverage for their impactful multiple-racer simulation demonstrations during the Orlando event, were in the news again with a more unique take on their skills.


The company's special projects division had created the "Full Motion Kart Simulator" — a highly physical motion rig with a full racing kart chassis and impactive fans blowing air to simulate the high-speed competition of performance kart racing, the visuals supplied using the HTC VIVE Pro headset.


Along with specially developed software, CXC has created a one-of-a-kind VR simulator for an undisclosed client — though we expect many of the lessons learned will appear in future development from the company.

Regarding continuing new VR LBE development, big news came regarding a continued investment by AAA properties towards applying its brands in the out-of-home entertainment space. Consumer game developer and publisher Ubisoft announced a ground-breaking deal with free-roaming VR arena specialists Zero Latency VR.


In 2023, the operation will release "Far Cry VR: Dive into Insanity," an eight-player arena-scale VR experience based on the popular consumer title, bringing many of the unique elements of the combat game to the virtual space for the first time. And just a matter of days later, one of the largest IPs revealed their return to the amusement shores. A dream team of Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB, Nomadic and Vrsenal have been working on "Star Wars VR" — a unique virtual reality experience for amusement release.

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