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Looking forward

What is “Location-based Entertainment”?

As the virtual reality ecosystem evolves rapidly, here are challenges and opportunities for our industry in the next year.

CHALLENGES

VR is still expensive.

Often, the simple ROI equation you use for a redemption game will not pencil. You need to look more holistically at the benefits VR can bring to your center.

Reliability is a challenge.

The core hardware and software are still based on consumer technologies. Some suppliers have done a better job than others in hardening these products for commercial use. New products this year like VRsenal’s Monolith hope to solve the reliability issue. (See this article about VRsenal’s rugged, fully automated VR arcade game system.)

Parts supply has been unreliable.

Last year, there was no stock of replacement cables for many headsets on the market. This year, the VIVE Pro is end of life. Production of Lighthouse cameras is “temporarily” shut down. Consumer technology lifecycles continue to haunt us.

VR can be labor intensive.

In a time when labor costs are skyrocketing, and workers are scarce, developers of multiplayer games have been slow to adapt their solutions to be unattended.

Despite those challenges, the future of virtual reality attractions looks bright.

OPPORTUNITIES

Next-gen headsets are better.

HTC Focus 3 has a host of features that meet the demands of the LBE market. The brand-new Pico 4 pushes the envelope on small and light hardware. “Prosumer” headsets are a new segment with the Meta Quest Pro and the rumored Apple headset. This competition will continue to drive innovation.

Tracking is more accurate.

The new inside-out tracking systems are getting better at enabling multiplayer experiences over larger areas. The latest update from HTC for VIVE Pro enables tracking individual objects in space.

Chips are more powerful.

The onboard XR2 chipset from Qualcomm is enabling native experiences without computers that rival the graphics of gaming consoles from a few years ago.

Wi-Fi 6E is here.

Ultrafast, stable multiplayer streaming is a reality, offering high-quality PC experiences with no wires.

People love VR.

According to a recent Harris Poll, 23% of Americans have tried VR, and two-thirds say they will “definitely do it again”. But with only about 10 million headsets in homes, the only way for most people to play VR is in arcades.

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