Photo by ILMxLab
You were the chosen one.
The Void was the poster child for virtual reality arcades, a future that once seemed bright — we covered it numerous times at The Verge, particularly after Disney and ILMxLab chose to bring Star Wars, Wreck-It Ralph and Avengers experiences exclusively to The Void’s arcades. But Protocol reports that The Void is now as close to death’s door as a brand ever truly comes: after defaulting on a loan, Disney has abandoned its partner, the company’s assets have been reassigned to a creditor, and that creditor says he’s planning to sell them off.
While new owner Jim Bennett tells the publication that resuming operations might also be an option, the name of his holding company suggests different, as Protocol points out:
After getting a loan from VR Boom LLC last year, The Void’s assets are now being held by a new holding company aptly named VR Exit LLC.
It’s good to see someone’s got a sense of humor.
Even before the pandemic hit, VR arcades were already struggling to take off — IMAX, previously the biggest name in the business, started shutting down all its operations in December 2018. But The Void might have suffered from more than lackluster attendance: its benefactor Disney began bringing bigger Star Wars games to home VR headsets, whose price of entry has largely gotten less expensive each year. As we wrote in November 2019 about one such home VR game, “Vader Immortal strips Star Wars down to its swashbuckling adventure roots in a way that creator ILMxLAB’s earlier, smaller Star Wars VR experiments haven’t.”
Those “smaller experiments” were The Void’s games.
But now, The Void doesn’t even have those smaller Star Wars experiences to draw on: in June, Disney abandoned the company completely, shut down its Downtown Disney locations, and withdrew the rights to use its intellectual property. With the pandemic still raging, it’s hard to imagine the spurned company recovering.