Many of the industry discussions and product trends at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) 2018 Conference & Expo, held last week in Orlando, Florida, focused on two important topics: cost control and content.
Drive Towards Attendant-Less Attractions
Reducing the personnel needed to operate virtual reality (VR) experiences is a necessary step toward increasing the profitability of VR installations in most location-based entertainment (LBE) venues. Some systems demand an attendant at each station, though others, like the new offering from Redmond, WA-based VRstudios, reduce that need by providing multiplayer, hardware platform systems. Similarly, the Virtual Arcade Cabinet from VRsenal, a provider of premium virtual reality peripherals and integrations, runs without an attendant.
Attendant-less VR attractions are an important development as they encourage system adoption by operators of out-of-home entertainment venues. This may especially encourage uptake at venues like malls, entertainment centers, and cinemas.
New Slate of Immersive Experiences
Those that are focused on creating high-end VR experiences are investing in new ways to do so, either based on exclusive licensed content or by building a community around competitive multiplayer gameplay.
Triotech and Hologate both exhibited new, family-friendly VR experiences with popular IP - Rabbids and Angry Birds. Both properties are moving traditional entertainment IP to more immersive counterparts. This is the fourth Rabbids VR experience and the first published game for Angry Birds. Earlier this year, Rovio announced an AR game that will be available on Magic Leap.
We expect an increase in family-friendly IP for LBE VR in 2019. Out-of-home VR entertainment is finding success in major family-friendly installations and will become more prominent in venues that serve families, such as specialty attractions, malls, and family entertainment centers (FECs).
As LBE VR system providers are maturing, leaders are emerging, such as VRstudios and Hologate, with VRsenal and Virtuix also finding comfortable niches. Overall, what we saw at IAAPA was an increasingly comfortable match with the needs of attraction operators, who need reliable equipment and proven content.
Read more about highlights and LBE VR trends from IAAPA in the IAAPA 2018 Flashnote.