Roller coasters, water slides, or even the latest VR experience could have been found this last weekend at the annual IAAPA Attractions Expo. This expo showcased everything you could possibly want from this industry, and with a floor spanning over 600,000 square feet and over 42,000 people in attendance, this was a real money maker. Nearly 27,000 people were buyers at this event, and each would spend over a few millions dollars each over the span of a few days at this event. 

VR had a presence to be felt this year at IAAPA, and there was a handful of VR companies that had strong sales. With that being said, VR companies need to understand what they’re getting themselves into when competing their experiences with something that is real, tangible, and actually there. For the buyers to spend real dollars on a not so real product, they will need to be completely blown away. Let’s get into the insights from this weekend, and what VR companies need to do next year at this time.

Entertainment Center Operators Don’t Need VR Experiences

Let me dive into this subject. Operators simply do not want VR experiences, they want and need attractions. If they were to ever have a VR experience, it would need to captivate and attract just as many people as the real attractions do. The VOID is an attraction, but a simple VR headset setup with content you can also get at home, is not. It is not the same, and VR needs to understand that. 

George Wendt, Owner-Operator of Arcade Rev Share had a few points to make of what people are looking for when purchasing VR for their attractions.

  • First, it needs to be fun – the type of fun that his guests would want to do again and again.
  • Second, it needs to command attention: “The bigger, the brighter, the better it earns.”
  • Third, it needs to be able to pay for itself after the first 6-9 months in market.
  • And finally, it needs to come from a manufacturer that can be trusted.

With those points in mind, VR needs to be a top producer to be picked up.

Redemption Games Is Where The Money Is At

A redemption game is defined by something that turns money into money for the attraction park. He explained it like this “I make $1 at a time”.  He went onto say that a short game play with a slim chance high reward will be more of an enticing game, rather than a game that has a longer game play and doesn’t bring the player back for more.

There is not many, if any, VR games that offer redemption functionality, despite many games keeping track of individual and team points. With these comments coming out though, I’m sure we will see will one come sooner rather than later. 

Familiar Gameplay and Ability To Captivate, Sell Big Time

Operators already know that games like laser tag, bowling, and paintball bring in large groups of guests. That is no coincidence either. Games that everyone knows and are a custom to play, will always sell more than others. It is that simple. With that being said, VR can offer these types of game with minimal risk. They can eliminate space and physical pain. 

One of the best sellers at the conference for VR was a 4DX roller coaster. With those type of amusement parks taking up so much real estate and materials, the future of those parks just may be in VR. Escape rooms are booming as it is, and VR is a going to be a big part in the future. Just like amusement parks, the rooms take up a lot of space. Is there is a chance to make each room significantly smaller with the use of VR, it can make music more money for everyone. 

The More You Can Play It, The More Successful

A competitive, broad skilled-based, and strategy are the things that the customer needs to use to activate them coming back and back again. Once an operator can get the customers to come to their park, it is more than important to have games that will them come back over and over again. To keep them thinking simple, while feeling like they are using real skill to be competitive. 

VR has this all understood now, and many people are making games that target those traits right off the bat. They know that if they can develop a skill within the game that is useful especially inside that Virtual Reality. It makes the players come back and hone their skills, making the operators more money. 

Existing Attractions Can Benefit From VR and AR

VR and AR experiences don’t ever have to completely replace the current attractions. Actually, in an ideal world we will see them work hand in hand and complimenting each other in every way possible. We already have roller coasters with VR options before the actual ride to get a glimpse of what you are getting yourself into. 

There are plenty of water slides with a VR experience optional, and even some that are just the VR rides alone, as you get tossed and turned in the same place all while you have a headset. The possibilities are endless and all we need is to have some fun with it.

Known Entertainment Are Top Producers

Entertainment games are always on the best attractions, and that comes as no surprise. You put Batman or Superman on just about anything, and it is going to sell pretty well. Stern Pinball has to be one of the most basic games up to date ever, and because they put high-end entertainment all over it, they have a very successful and popular game. 

Many VR games are understanding this and trying to implement many super heroes and many likable and popular movies into their games. So far, it has worked in great measurements, and you can expect to see them to continue to move forward this way. 

Prior Validation Is Important To Buyers

Not very often, if ever, and you going to find an operator that will drop 100 stacks on a company that has never made an attraction before. That is even more risky to a smaller single entertainment center. The small companies that want to make it big need to follow the blueprint that is laid out by the bigger and successful companies. They need to use the manufacturers who have credibility, find the designs that work, and build unwavering trust with the buyers. Although that makes it tough to break into the game, co-creating new product is usually the rout to take, until your trust is made. 

Find Ways To Scale

It is not all about the amount of games you have as it is about the amount of good games you have. If you are an operator and you have 250 games, chances are maybe less than 30 are getting played constantly. There just is not many designs that can captivate enough to keep the people coming back. Not only that, but the problem is you will be trying to pay those all off, while they are not making enough money. The best way to go about it is only keep the attractions that will always make money, and VR will always be playing a role from here on out.


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