Virtuix has shipped more than 3,000 Omni units to date to over 500 LBE locations in 45 countries. Their enclosed Omni Arena features four networked stations on a small footprint.VIRTUIX
Virtuix, developer of the “Omni” virtual reality treadmill and “VR ARENA” esports attraction, announced that its Omniverse gaming platform has hit one million plays. The company also announced it had launched the 20thgame on its proprietary platform, a title called “Bull Runner,” which simulates the annual “Running of the Bulls” festival in Pamplona, Spain. Omni’s unique approach allows a full, free roam VR experience in a small footprint, a critical requirement of retail operators.
To use the Omni system, players wear special overshoes which stretch to fit over normal footwear. The player is held in place by a comfortable but firm harness. The HTC Vive VR headset is dropped down from above each player, so no wires get in the way to disrupt the VR illusion. The players’ feet slide along the plastic dish under their feet, while inside the simulation, they move forward, providing the unique full immersion of free roam VR in a much, much smaller space.
Omniverse is the cloud-based content distribution and arcade management platform included with each Omni motion platform and VR ARENA attraction. Commercial operators use Omniverse to run Omni games and track revenue stats. All games on Omniverse are optimized both for the Omni home system and for location-based entertainment (LBE). Virtuix has shipped more than 3,000 Omni units to date to over 500 LBE locations in 45 countries.
“We’ve learned a lot about the requirements of operating VR in location-based entertainment,” says Jan Goetgeluk, Virtuix’s founder and CEO. “Our first foray into the LBE market, a stage-style product with 5 Omnis placed in a small area, had suboptimal throughput, flow, and labor costs. Two years of customer feedback helped us design our new attraction, VR ARENA, with highly-automated user flow, built-in esports, and a selection of the best Omniverse games.”
Virtuix launched its Omniverse content platform in late 2017. Its extensive library of games allows Omni operators to offer all popular game genres and appeal to a wide audience. The 20th Omniverse game, “Bull Runner,” requires players to compete for the highest score by running as close to the bulls as they can without getting gored. The game highlights the Omni’s unique ability to allow the player the experience of physically running in VR, just like the kid’s treadmill in Ready Player One.
Omni Arena action.VIRTUIX
Kevin Williams, a consultant specializing in out-of-home entertainment, has followed the rise of the Virtuix platform into the LBE sector. He greeted the news of surpassing one million plays with some satisfaction as he predicted the success of this strategy in his Stinger Report. "One of the most important ingredients in the success of LBVR is an esports offering. There is nothing like it to drive repeat visitation,” Williams told me. "Everyone pays lip service, but few succeed like Virtuix has."
Julia Stalker, the owner of VR arcade Virtual 42 in Washington, NJ, about an hour and a half west of New York, NY, opened her 1,000 SF facility in April 2018 featuring the Omni treadmill system. In addition to the four networked Omni stations, Virtual 42 features a few classic coin-op arcade cabinets such as PAC-man, Donkey Kong, Afterburner, Punch Out, Tetris, and Metallica Pinball, and a room-scale VR station.
Jared Engle, playing out of Virtual 42 in Washington, NJ, won $1,000 and a new Vive VR set up in an international Omniverse esports tournament several weeks ago.JARED ENGLE
Jared Engle, a high school student with an affinity for video games, won an Omni national tournament at Virtual 42. He’s placed first place in two national tournaments with his teammate, Lachlan, taking home an HTC Vive and $1,000 cash. “I enjoy playing FPS games and battle royales at home. Omni is different because it is a virtual reality game, unlike other games which aren't played in VR. Other esports don't give you the opportunity to actually feel like you are in the game.”
“We have had about 5 teams compete consistently and see new players each month,” Stalker said. “Many of my players are high school and college age and know each other from school. However, I have had a few solos that I linked together to allow them to participate in the two-player games.” The next tournament on March 21-24th will be a two-player team game. Stalker says Omni tournaments are simple to run. “Players simply log in to the computer and play. My new customers have to create a login first. This takes about 2 minutes. Everything else is handled by Virtuix. Their support is exceptional.”
Stalker attributes her success to creating a safe place for young people in the community to gather. “My tables are always free for tabletop gaming. I have an Xbox One that people are free to use, as well as a Foosball table. Most people come for the Omnis and stay to play the rest. Honestly, almost everything else I have can be played from home.” Although she does not keep track, Stalker estimates 85% of her customers return.
Using the Virtuix Omni as the main event, entrepreneur Julia Stalker has made a business of encouraging repeat visits through community.JULIA STALKER
Operators don’t have to organize anything and don’t need to change their operational processes to participate in Omniverse tournaments. It’s entirely automated. During the four days of the contest each month, participants simply play the game at their local entertainment center and select the esports competition themselves. Their scores are added automatically to a global, cloud-based leaderboard. The tournaments start on a Thursday and run through Sunday night. Virtuix distributes prizes to the top ten scorers. The total prize pool in 2019 is $50,000 in cash plus VR gear and gaming accessories contributed by the series’ sponsors, HP and HTC.