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How Andretti’s Karting Avoids the Attended VR Doom Loop

Image: Andretti's Indoor Karting is committed to VR. Image courtesy: Andretti's Karting.

Unlike many FECs abandoning “attended” VR attractions, Andretti’s seems to have cracked the code.  Their 8th venue, just opening in Grand Prairie, Texas, is packed with VR attractions that take the entertainment experience to the next level. What are they doing differently than most other FECs?

Andretti Karting has always been synonymous with high-octane fun and innovative attractions. They’ve been the first to test many VR attractions, often carrying them across the street from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando following the IAAPA convention immediately after a debut. Their lineup includes attended VR platforms like Hologate, Hyperdeck, and Limitless VR, each offering unique adventures that cater to various tastes and thrill levels.

The Doom Loop

Hologate was the first successful VR attraction for FECs but has recently fallen out of favor in the US. Operators claim a serious drop in revenue, leading to them cutting back staff working the attraction. When nobody is staffing the Hologate, players encounter too much friction to play and walk away, which creates a usage doom loop.

I have spoken to Andretti’s management, and they claim their commitment to staffing has been key to their success with VR. Their continued investment in both attended and unattended VR games is a testament to this success. Mark Easte, CEO of LAI, recently told me their new racing game, Asphalt 9 Legends VR, is one of the top performing games in Andretti’s location at Dallas suburb The Colony.

Image: VR is clustered together at Andretti’s. Image courtesy Hologate VR.

Clustering is Key

While you may think “Andretti’s has so much traffic they can afford more staffing,” especially when reading their call to hire 300 employees, there’s more to their strategy than that. Andretti clusters their VR games and experiences into one big VR Arcade attraction. This lets fewer employees look out for customers needing help or intervention across multiple attractions. Even during the slowest of times, one employee could conceivable staff Hologate, Hyperdeck, and Limitless VR, while being on hand to make sure players requiring assistance with unattended VR like Virtual Rabbids or Godzilla Kaiju Wars are also being served.

A Hub for Social and Interactive Entertainment

Another way Andretti Karting stands apart is the way it arranges its driving games. Instead of lining them up in a row, it clusters them in an X configuration. Players can more easily see each other in their periphery, creating more social engagement. This also means that in a four-game configuration, two players cannot sit in the middle seats, preventing two other players from jumping in and racing together.

Player Density Is Critical

For attended VR to be profitable, the ratio of players to staff and the density of players per square foot are both critical metrics. Clustering unattended games, coasters, and simulators, attended VR helps increase the average revenue per square foot. Combined with efficient labor practices, the cost of operations becomes more manageable. Andretti’s has figured this out and is using it as a differentiation strategy to become one of the fastest-growing and most profitable FEC chains in the country. Now that their secret is out, what are you going to do about it?

If you want to better understand how to make real money with virtual reality, consider attending my Downloadable FEC event in Dallas on August 6th. Then, stick around the next day as we tour Andretti’s and some of the other groundbreaking immersive entertainment in the Dallas market.

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