It has been encouraging to see recent announcements of location-based entertainment venues starting to open back up. While there are capacity limitations and new protocols required to ensure that customers feel safe, the “new normal” is beginning to take shape – it is refreshing to see amusement locations back in business.
We stand united with this industry and understand first-hand the impact that COVID-19 has had on businesses and more importantly, on the lives of so many employees, vendors, and partners. Our hearts go out to families that have lost loved ones and to those who continue to suffer.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Make no mistake, we still firmly believe in the LBE industry and know that we will recover. While there are numerous new challenges, the COVID-19 crisis can also breed opportunity and innovation.
People Still Need to Gather, Share, & Connect Socially
Over the course of our six years of experience pioneering commercial VR technology and solutions we have learned that the business of Location-Based Entertainment is driven by people’s strong inherent desire and need to gather, share, and connect socially. That spirit is why we love this industry.
Even the pandemic and social distancing guidelines have not been sufficient deterrents to keep groups – from college kids to Harley Davidson enthusiasts – from gathering in person. This core human desire to gather, share, and experience things together that fundamentally fuels our industry and our collective opportunity.
Thinking Differently to Accelerate Recovery of LBE
As promised in earlier posts, the scrappy and amazing VRstudios team took up the challenge to think differently and innovate solutions that will help accelerate the recovery of the LBE industry. We looked at the business from all sides to develop a holistic, integrated set of new technology, products, partnerships, and distribution, all designed to better serve our customers
To start, we recently have announced a new distribution partnership with adventure park manufacturer and designer FunSpot, which will introduce VR to more consumers in trampoline park locations and a product partnership with technology company CleanBox, which we kicked off by publishing an LBE “Best Practices” operational guide for the hygiene of our VR attractions.
New Breakthroughs to Stay Connected to Customers
Over the next few weeks we will announce a number of products and initiatives that all work toward our objective of delivering solutions that will help our customers come back in this “new normal”. These include new breakthroughs that will enable venues and operators to stay connected to their customers in unprecedented ways, dramatically increasing their relevance. We are in a unique position to break the mold and challenge traditional thinking about the chasm between VR entertainment at home and at the LBE venue.
Pre-COVID-19, with the tremendous popularity of online gaming, the industry’s biggest challenge was giving people compelling reasons to get off the couch. COVID-19 has since further forced people to stay home and has kept them out of LBE venues.
New Ecosystem Connecting Home to LBE
Our development has therefore focused on expanding our “ecosystem” and our partners’ opportunities by bringing our commercial-quality VR experiences to players at home, while also building in powerful incentives for them to gather, play, and compete at LBE venues.
Consumers will play for fun, practice, and compete with others casually online from home, and then take those skills and their performance stats to LBE venues for physical, multiplayer, social experiences complete with food and beverage and formal competitions that only a LBE venue can deliver. LBE businesses will have new options for building awareness, maintaining connections to their players at home, promoting in-store events and driving revenue.
Introducing VRStudios Sports
We’ve already been developing games and experiences for the primary consumer VR headsets and content stores. Our first product and technology advance in this new ecosystem, spanning from home use to LBE competition, is VRstudios Sports. Our inaugural release is “Hoops Madness” a broadly appealing VR basketball game that is available for early access on STEAM. VRstudios Sports will establish new opportunities to engage with existing customers and attract new players, delivering new revenue opportunities for LBE operators. Consumers will now be able to play exciting LBE-quality VR sports games at home and at entertainment venues.
Stay tuned for additional announcements to follow including new pricing options, game changing patent filings, new features for players, and exciting new content titles from both VRstudios and our studio partners.