VR ‘crossover’ leisure reaches train, sports activities and toys| Commentary
In the eyes of many developers, out-of-home entertainment is becoming the “10thGen” gaming platform in view of the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
After the coronavirus pandemic, is there a limit to consumer VR crossover?
One crossover option that is showing a growing trend is “exergaming” – VR training and fitness systems. Obviously, most of VR fitness is done by home VR users, although general home fitness and exercise has greatly increased given the lockdown of all fitness and fitness facilities.
The start-up Black Box VR, which spins under the new conditions, was originally known for its CES 2018, which came on stage with its immersive exercise platform. The company attracted attention, was trending, and featured in more than 30 media outlets during the event. This would lead the company to roll out its platform as part of a retail concept and support a virtual sports training program that opened in four partner EoS gyms.
With Lockdown, the company has increased its focus on the use of its associated VR training capabilities. Black Box VR announced a partnership with the FCFL (Fan Controlled Football League), a fan-streamed football competition, in February. Home exercise devices connected to the Black Box VR platform allow users to compete and stream their exercise program on platforms such as Twitch. This is a first of its kind that makes “exergaming” a possible streaming feel. The company is also keen to apply this concept to its conventional fitness facility endeavors.
Haptics marry VR
The ability to leverage the influence of a commercial VR presence to attract investment has continued, and this has spread to the haptics sector as well. LBE peripheral developer Striker VR is known for its “Arena Infinity” VR pistols, which use sophisticated haptic feedback and have been used by operators such as Spaces and Nomadic VR, as well as in amusement systems from VEX and Minority Media, to name a few adopters.
In February, the company announced it had raised $ 4 million in what is known as “strategic funding”. That strategy also included developing an end-user VR haptic peripheral in a system that supports both PC VR and Quest platforms at a price under $ 500. No schedule was offered for this rollout, but this would be a first in the VR market. However, this is not a first in commercial entertainment as we remember that companies like ThrustMaster benefit from successful force feedback controllers that amuse themselves and appeal to the consumer.
Haptics and force feedback stimuli are elements that have contributed to the gaming experience for decades. The pinball table “Earthshaker!” In 1989, Williams Electronic Games was the first to incorporate haptics through vibration. At the same time, Atari started the video “Hard Drivin” – together with many innovations it had a realistic force feedback control. Current technology now makes this element accessible even on consumer systems with 9th generation home gaming platforms such as the Sony PS5 console and the “DualSence” game controller.
The importance of the peripheral market to entertainment and even to the esports gaming scene was made clear by the news that computer and technology giant HP would acquire HyperX gaming accessories brand from parent company Kingston Technology for $ 425 million. This is a big brand with major sponsorship deals to support peripherals in the esports professional sector. This is another example of the impact crossover has on brand and service placement in the international sector.
Crossover in entertainment
Before we look at the facilities, there’s the larger theme park and resort implementations of intellectual property crossover. In a long-established formula, theme parks have incorporated recognizable consumer brands that take this activity from the 1930s “World’s Fair” approach to heavily corporate-sponsored entertainment. The most recent example of this was the announcement of the world’s first “Peppa Pig Theme Park” at the Legoland Florida Resort.
Merlin Entertainment signed a contract with owner Hasbro to open a unique property dedicated to the popular toy and television brand with appropriately themed attractions. The opening is planned for 2022.
Entertainment chains are also examining the need for crossover advertising. The opportunities that tournaments provide for the vital element of repeat visit and brand awareness of the facilities business have not been lost in entertainment beyond entertainment.
The social entertainment chain Topgolf Entertainment (recently acquired by Callaway for $ 2 billion) announced a cross-platform global tournament competition, in which players in the 8,500 gamified driving ranges “Toptracer Range” and on the mobile golf game app “World Golf” Tour “(which is already over) supports 30 million users). The company has unveiled a one-of-a-kind “9-Shot Challenge Global Tournament” for players around the world to compete. It is expected to grow as a committed competition supported by the company. This provides the ability to tie players to an app-based tournament that is also location-based.
The Topgolf crossover took an even more intensive step with the announcement of a cross-promotion partnership with the sports betting platform BetMGM. The relationship includes the activation of branding and promotions by both parties via the game app “World Golf Tour” and at selected top golf locations. This will be promoting the full sports betting experience that BetMGM Topgolf guests are offering.
The ability to offer this service is based on the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that allows betting on sports under selected conditions. How this will feed into future competitions and tournaments is an issue that is being watched closely by the esports community in particular.
Ubisoft steps forward
One of the best examples of consumer-retail branding in this sector would be Ubisoft. The publisher and developer of consumer games developed its properties for conventional video entertainment with Adrenaline Amusements, for VR amusement driving systems with LAI Games, for delivery on a VR arena scale with Zero Latency and the company even has its own label for VR escape games creates projects and sales. Ubisoft has set up its own LBE department to monitor this.
Another initiative was the short-lived Rabbids Amusement Center experiment to develop a family location-based entertainment venue. Going forward, the company has announced further developments at LBE with its IP by announcing a partnership with Osool Entertainment to develop three attractions with Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” IP in the Saudi Arabia-based Fizz interior.
Other IP and leading brands are joining this indictment, as evidenced by the success of Hasbro and Lionsgate as they grow into serious commercial entertainment presence. Not to mention the high profile of Nintendo’s entry into location-based entertainment with “Super Nintendo World” from Universal Studios.
Stumbles on the way
Before the global health crisis broke out, other surgeries had begun to try. In addition to the successes, we can also track the key failures that occurred at “Hub Zero” in Dubai (owned by Meraas Leisure), which worked with developers Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Capcom, Konami, Square Enix and PopCap to to design attractions based on their goals IP for the LBE venue, which ultimately did not do justice to any of its exaggerations.
When we spoke of toy brands making a transition to location-based entertainment, it was announced that Mattel would be launching its first “Mission: Play!” Plant at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin, Germany. The venue was developed by iP2Development and operated by Planet Leisure Germany – a special concept for family entertainment centers based on key Mattel IP addresses such as Barbie, Hot Wheels and Mega Bloks. The facility is scheduled to open its doors in 2022. This is the toy giant’s latest move into entertainment and attraction. The company was involved in Adrenaline Amusement back in 2019 to conduct an amusement release based on its Hot Wheels brand for other entertainment interests.
This underscores how difficult it is to successfully switch between the two industries, but it won’t stop many more from trying. As such, plans for a cross-platform presence for key intellectual property rights continue, and entertainment outside the home is becoming the 10th generation gaming platform in the eyes of many developers as these new precious waters change.
(Editor’s note: Excerpts from this blog are from recent coverage in The Stinger Report, published by KWP and its director Kevin Williams, the leading out-of-home entertainment interactive news service that covers the immersive frontier and beyond. )