Roller coasters are often the main attraction at a theme park, but virtual reality may soon take over.
Bellevue startup VRstudios creates large-scale virtual reality systems for theme parks, casinos and family entertainment centers that allow multiple people to play games together in the same space, at the same time.
VRstudios, founded in 2013, already has more than 40 customers, including Muckleshoot Casino and Knott’s Berry Farm, said CEO and Chairman Kevin Vitale, a longtime California software executive.
Players can move within a 20-by-20-foot space or 30-by-30-foot space, and interact with other players. The VR technology — known as VRcade — is wireless and uses high-end cameras to track players’ movements.
“As a part of the fully immersive experience, if you’re able to roam freely and interact it’s a much more natural feeling,” Vitale said.
VRstudios has developed the hardware as well as its own games for customers, including one where gamers fight zombies and another that has a Western theme. In addition to its four standard games, the startup also creates custom entertainment, such as a Halloween-themed game for Universal Orlando that debuted last year.
The company’s technology starts at about $30,000 for a complete system, including headsets, tracking cameras, controllers and games. That’s a much steeper price than consumer VR headsets, which cost about $700, not including a computer. But it’s a totally different experience, Vitale said.
The playing field is larger, the tracking capabilities more powerful and the games more immersive, he said. And it’s aimed at large companies that are in the entertainment business.
“This is stuff you can’t do at home,” he said.
VRstudios has about 30 engineers and designers in Bellevue, and has raised about $6 million. The company is working on developing more games for its technology.