Development of Vr Technology Resurrects Arcade Rooms
On the same technology level as the video game stations of the 1970s, places open all over the world to research and discover immersive headphones.
What will be the Space Invader of VR technology? This game cult of the late 1970s marked the golden age of arcades. At the time, consoles were still in development and too expensive for salons and players were having their first pixel adventures out of their homes. Nearly forty years later, the same scenario is emerging for the development of VR technology.
This immersive technology is the subject of a battle between Giants on the market of high-tech helmets allowing the diving in imaginary universes. But retail sales are struggling to take off, with just 2.1 million units sold worldwide in the second quarter of 2017, according to IDC. On the other hand, the arcade rooms dedicated to the experiments around these helmets are multiplying all over the world.
A $ 25 Billion Business in Four Years
The material will still account for the bulk of the sector’s revenues – distributors are expecting new models for Christmas – but the VR technology applied arcade rooms are also promised a bright future. They should become a real business. “By 2021, they could generate $1 billion in sales worldwide,” notes Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital, a consulting firm specializing in the subject. It estimates the global market for virtual reality at $ 25 billion over the next four years.
After China and the United States, the technology trend is coming to France. This year, the arcade rooms have grown like mushrooms: MK2 VR and Virtual Room in Paris, Destination VR and Eydolon in Lyon, unreal in Lille, virtual Game in Rennes… “The start was faster than expected,” said Romain Lesaffre, founder of MindOut in Paris. With 12 helmets available to customers, it aims a full year turnover of more than 300.000 euros. Open since April in the French capital, it already plans, like many of its competitors, to open a network of arcade development in VR rooms.
Manufacturers Begin to Research and Get Involved
The economic models of these locations are mixed, notes a white paper written by smartVR studio, a Content Agency making research in VR technology. Players pay according to the time spent with the helmet on their head. Some rooms also host companies that invite their employees, in the margins of seminars.
Few venues have made development on their own games. “To purchase VR experiences, the rooms go directly to the development studios or subscribe to a catalogue that gives access to professional licenses,” explains Jean Mariotte, the CEO of smartVR development studio, which has just launched its own VR content platform dedicated to arcade rooms.
As a sign that business is serious, helmet manufacturers and video game publishers are starting to get involved. The Taiwanese HTC and the Japanese Sega, pioneer of community-driven arcade games at the end of the 20th century, have already opened their own rooms. Ubisoft and Nintendo also discuss their respective amusement park projects.