Exit Reality's new X-Hub featuring Neurogaming's "Shooter" title won a lot of orders the show.CHARLIE FINK
The International Amusement Association Parks and Attractions Expo wrapped its centennial edition last month (November 11-15). The massive Orlando show featured Rollercoasters, moon bounces, bowling (AMF has a huge booth), trampolines, skydiving rigs (iFly now has 600 locations), zip lines, laser tag, hot dog on a stick (samples not available), popcorn makers (available), Dippendots (free samples, yum!), cotton candy makers, redemption systems, arcade games and lots and lots of VR from 1100 exhibitors from 110 countries crowded into 600,275 square feet (or 13 sq miles) of exhibition space. You get the idea. Disney is a gold sponsor. Over 50 of these exhibitors use VR to create extraordinary amusement experiences for guests. If you include the non-HMD simulators like Sega’s Daytona multiplayer car racing arcade game, which has been holding the torch for VR since the first LBVR boom (of which I was a part) fizzled in the 1990s.
Beat Saber was everywhere, as was HP's Joanna Popper. This is from Exit Reality's Hub.CHARLIE FINK
In a blog post, Location Based Entertainment consultant and editor of the Stinger Report, Kevin Williams, offered the following breakdown:
- Number of new VR coin-ops = 19
- Number of new VR Simulators = 18
- Number of new VR Enclosures = 8
- Number of new VR Arena-Scale = 9
- Number of new VR water-sims = 3
- Number of new AR/XR systems = 7
- Number of new eSports systems = 5
"VR represented some 15% of the exhibited product at this years show comprising 1,100 exhibitors,” said Williams.
I almost didn’t go to IAAPA, but when I heard those numbers it was impossible to resist. Most of those sixty odd VR exhibitors will retreat back to Asia, or whatever they came from, never to be heard from again. Still, FOMO had me. And also I am very good at finding things to do when I should be writing a book (due in March). It was overwhelming. VR is being incorporated into attractions like roller coasters, water parks, trampolines and, of course, escape rooms.
What could go wrong?CHARLIE FINK
The show daily was shoved into my hands as I left my shabby hotel to wait for the IAAPA bus. I noticed a full page ad for "Big Air Bags." You know those giant inflatables that stunt men land on when they dive off a roof? For a few bucks, anyone can now have that experience. What could go wrong? As I was sharing this hilarious insight as a Tweet (I crack myself up sometimes) a few guys wearing hideous white polo shirts emblazoned with "Hot Dog On a Stick" logos got on the bus. Today they are a staple of mall food courts, by as lore goes they got their humble beginning as a carny staple.
I would not recommend DOF Robotics VR motion attraction after eating dogs of any kind.
Location based VR (LBVR) companies have all gone out of their way to limit the footprint of their VR attractions and minimize the number of attendants needed in order to ensure low cost and maximum throughput for their operators. As the result of the extraordinary success of Hologate, which sold over 230 of its $100,000 four-user, limited footprint (16x16 sq.,ft.,) quasi free roam (it’s four HTC Vives networked together) systems, there were half-dozen fast followers on the floor seeking to emulate and in some cases maybe improve upon the simplicity, small footprint, and low-cost Hologate offers. Just in time for the show, Hologate has added “Angry Birds 2” to its growing library of titles, which include “Das Boot” and a VR game based on the classic “World of Tanks.”
VR Arena from Virtuix, makers of the popular Omni treadmill, introduced this small footprint VR enclosure.VIRTUIX
This year Virtuix, maker of the Omni VR treadmill, has introduced the VR Arena, which networks four of its faux free-roaming game systems together. The Omni allows users to use natural locomotion by walking on a slick dish wearing plastic overshoes. The 375 sf enclosure features over a dozen multiplayer adventures and esports experiences, which has been seeded with $50,000 in prize money from Omni.
Using financing offered by its distribution partner Funovation, operators can finance the Omni area for a couple of grand a month. With throughput of 20 guests per hour, at the max gross potential approaches 20K per week. As you can see this is a tastefully and expertly designed enclosure, with room for both player prep (choose the scenario, or game, and put on your overshoes) and player post (to remove the overshoes) to maximize throughput with just one operator. Afterward, guests receive a highlight video of their experience, suitable for social sharing, via email.
ARkave, a free roam, small footprint alien wave shooter, was in an overflow site near Nomadic in the Pointe Orlando mall.ARVRA
Arkave VR from YDreams Global is a free roam game for four players that was set up in an overflow location in Pointe Orlando Mall (where Nomadic just opened) along with low-cost GearVR based free roaming Holodek. Arkave, which has a number of locations in South America is looking to expand into North America this year. Their three-player alien wave shooter “The Last Squad” is among the better ones out there.
Nomadic opened the doors if its first location in Orlando down the street from the weeklong carny known as IAAPA with a genuine ribbon cutting by beaming Founder and CEO Doug Griffin. Their debut experience is “Arizona Sunshine,” the VR version of the popular zombie shooter. Though this is the only experience currently at the venue, it’s exceedingly well done, containing the signature touches that attracted the attention of the industry when Nomadic came out of stealth over a year ago.
Grab and M16 (it sure seemed real), ride a train (epic), walk the plank (always awesome - don’t look at your feet), kill zombies, rescue the professor (the dead body is a dummy that feels real), and evac on a chopper. While I never think it’s a good idea to open a venue with one title, everyone always picks the zombie shooter. In the virtual world, you have to know what to do there. If there are zombies, shoot them. Done.
VRcade PowerPlay League. from VRStudios. 4 player, 30’x30’, free roaming, eSport running in the VRcade Arena. Two VRcade Atoms (wireless, 2-players, large selection of VRcade games, curated 3rd party games and supports SteamVR games)ne from Exit Reality and one produced by VRstudios (named the 80/20 enclosure).VRSTUDIOS
Speaking of free roam and zombies, Zero Latency of Australia was notably absent after award-winning showings in 2016 and a popular booth in 2017. Over at Disney Village, The VOiD was running previews of Wreck It Ralph by invitation only. This left VR Studios, the largest free roam operator in the world, as the only large-scale free roam VR exhibit on the main floor. Their free roam area either 400 or 200 square metres of game space. They were also showing off their one person enclosure, the Atom.
VRsenal's unattended VR booth featured Beat Saber, but would work with a number of titles.VRSENAL
An attendant free, fully automated virtual arcade cabinet from VRsenal featuring the ubiquitous Beat Saber garnered a lot of attention. The single player self-serve kiosk could find a welcome home in arcades and barcades, replacing skittle-bowl with something that has high spectator value and repeat play.
Free roam VR in a box from AiSolve. Modular. Single operator. Custom built to the requirements of operators.AISOLVE
We Play VR from A.I. Solve is another VR enclosure with a small footprint, optimized for the kind of FECs and arcades served by its continually evolving array of games.
Joanna Popper of HP taking out some bugs in "Total Recoil."CHARLIE FINK
Military contractor Raydon made its IAAPA debut with "Total Recoil," a VR wave shooter featuring turret based gameplay inside a Vive VR HMD, using a haptic machine gun that allows you to mow down hordes of invading bugs.
Smash Labs offers a number of themed VR attractions.
SMAAASH Labs offered up a number of VR experiences, such as Jurassic Escape VR ride, Fly Max (a VR hang glider), a walk the plank VR platform and a turret shooter, Exterminator. They are distinguished by their elaborate props and theming.
This bow hunting VR sim was one of the most talked about.CHARLIE FINK
Triotech's exclusive Assassin’s Creed experience was one of the most popular VR experiences at the show.
VR Ninja Dojo from Five For Co. Ltd features very physical gameplay with what looks to be a real Samurai Sword. Monitors showing in game action have a Beat Saber like quality to them. Similar in feel is the horseback simulator VR Attack of Titans - The Human Race from amusement giant TAITO, which I accidentally happened upon in the overflow tent. Your team of Samurai on horseback has to elude giant monsters in a dangerous race through a forest. You need to duck and weave to avoid being knocked off your virtual horse. In the end, I was eaten anyway.
Italy's Wave brings us the immersive Formula One experience. With a motion base, one of these babies goes for around 60K.CHARLIE FINK
Car racing simulators, almost all with motion bases, were in abundance. These, too, require little explaining. Everyone knows how to drive, even kids who don’t drive. Long a staple of entertainment centers like Dave & Busters, car racing simulators are more sophisticated and expensive than ever before. Especially compelling was Italy’s Wave, which places guests into the realistic fiberglass cockpit of a formula one racer. Though not an HMD VR experience, the simulation is fully immersive, with three screens that wrap around the driver. Most of the other racing sims on motion bases were using the Vive Pro and networked multiple units together.
Don't bring the people to VR, take VR to the people.KEVIN WILLIAMS
The VR Truck has four VR stations and can be towed anywhere. They showed their 4 station VR arcade trainer - running the Springboard content management and licensing system on Vive VR.
Kevin Williams, of immersive Out-of-Home entertainment consultancy KWP, says the show may represent the peak of a "VR bubble." Ever the skeptic, he predicts 2019 will be all a year of transition as VR attempts to establish itself in the face of growing interest in Augmented Reality (AR) that was reflected on this years IAAPA show floor. “It’s possible, if not probable, that the commercial out-of-home entertainment sector will be the first to introduce combined AR-VR tech into the market,” Williams said.