VIRTUAL REALITY IS HERE TO STAY

Posted on December 12 2017

ASI showcased exciting VR attractions at DEAL 2017. Virtual reality will have its impact on the Middle East family entertainment centres, said ASI’s President, Prakash Vivekanand and he expects to have 4 premium VR products on his DEAL stand – the largest at the show. Mr. Vivekanand had some reservations about the VR furore, which has gripped the industry since over a dozen different systems appeared in the market space starting 2015. “It definitely has its space,” he said, “but it needs to be chosen carefully as there are many bad examples of VR and very few good ones”.

Donning a sweaty headset without knowing just how many people have used it before you arrived to play, may deter some people. And, he said, there are also some thoughts about operating costs that needed some clarity. “Health & Safety, Nausea, Lag, Operating Space v/s Player Capacity and Operating/Staffing costs are all key issues one needs to address before considering VR for their FEC”. “In addition to those considerations, there is also the technology. VR is evolving so fast that what we buy today could be out of date in six months. Therefore you need to pay attention to the headset, software and middleware that you are investing into and the upgradability of the same”. There remain many questions, yet VR does offer substantial Novelty for the player and the FEC.

“At ASI, we were tempted to add VR products to our line-up 2 years ago. However we were not convinced with what was on offer to us and therefore our customers. We were on the lookout for quality technologies and products that were reliable and offering a novel player experience with least amounts of Health & Safety Concerns. We were very pleased with what we showcased at DEAL 2017.  We displayed 4 unique VR experiences at DEAL 2017 including a new multiplayer ARENA system and a very unique walk through experience. All of these products featured brilliant software, middleware and hardware. They are operationally very efficient and our technology partners based out of the UK and USA have done a terrific job with our VR offering. The products demo’ed very well and the reactions that we received this far from our customers and other valuable industry partners were wonderful”.

“We wanted to appeal to all age groups. We tested these attractions on Non Gamers too and had trouble getting them off the VR attractions. They loved the experience.  These are pure out of home VR experiences with high repeat play value”.

Prakash Vivekanand thinks that VR will not take anything away from traditional arcade games in an FEC, however they will play an important role on the FEC floor by providing a new experience for players. He particularly sees VR playing a big part in the indoor amusement ride business.

“By manipulating what customers see as an ambient whilst on a ride we can offer a varied experience on the same ride. It can be a horror experience for Halloween and a Santa Experience for Xmas on the same ride.  This will be so useful to bring customers back, specially to amusement rides within indoor amusement facilities”.  Several ride manufacturers are already headed in the VR direction as we write this article.

*Article first appeared in Intergame Magazine.