The LBVR landscape has exploded in the last 12 months. Back in 2015 when we here at Zero Latency coined the term Free Roam VR (FRVR), there was no one in the market but us. Here we are now in 2018. I look around and see a thriving industry with new companies pulling up a seat at the table, bringing fresh takes on how to commercialize VR as an LBE attraction. It's an exciting time for the industry as we watch a thousand flowers bloom, and try to pick the ones that are here to stay.
Let’s take a look at the VR market and its segments.
VIVE Pods: Your basic offering, in varying levels of polish. Pods come with a bit of IT set up, which can be daunting for some; these aren’t your old school coin-ops. With an open mind and good onsite tech, Pods can be a great way to test the VR waters with your audience before you step up to a more advanced platform.
Room Scale Untethered: Built from off-the-shelf gear and covering about 25m2, these setups use wireless backpacks, allowing players to be untethered. Given the relatively small space, players won’t be moving much, if at all, which kills immersion. Not to be confused with Free Roam VR, these setups sacrifice experience quality in exchange for a smaller footprint. Bottom line: there are lots of moving parts and it is a pretty limited experience. You get the worst of both worlds, as in many ways this type of system brings the limitations of a Pod-based setup with all its complexities and combines it with wearables, tracking and low latency wireless needs.
Hyper Reality: In essence this is the VR progression of a standard theme park ride; short-run experiences with heavy investment in pre-show. It is similar to Room Scale Untethered systems in both setup and size, with the addition of props and 4D effects. These details help mitigate the limited movement by giving you surfaces to interact with, such as walls you can touch and doors you can open. There are some nifty implementations of Hyper Reality, with big budget IP and blockbuster production values. I'm interested to see how the business model plays out. Big fees to IP holders, heavy staffing needs and large costs to switch content are red flags for me, and are key reasons why Zero Latency steered away from this path early on. Hyper Reality is like a movie theater that requires ripping out all the seats to play a new movie, one that only a few people at a time can watch.
FRVR: Free Roam VR tricks the brain and gives you that heightened sense of presence, the feeling that you're actually there, through the act of walking. Having more people there with you adds to this sense of immersion. The FRVR setup looks beyond the restrictions of small spaces and walls to larger, open spaces (200m2 / 2152 sq ft. on average). Our creative canvas allows for up to 8 simultaneous players, letting them explore a library of immersive content at the push of a button. An FRVR setup is both flexible and scalable. Add new experiences without the need to rip out or reinvest in your space; more space translates to a safer venue that's easier to operate, while allowing creative reuse of the play area. Players feel like they're exploring a basement, fighting through alleyways, crossing bridges and evacuating via helicopter.
Zero Latency is the only true FRVR provider in the market today.
Each operator has a different set of needs and ambitions. Zero Latency is proud to be the world’s leading expert on LBVR and happy to talk to you about your options and if FRVR is right for your business. We pride ourselves on a deep understanding of not only VR but also what drives great gameplay and social interaction. We’re committed to helping educate everyone about the wonderful opportunities it can bring to delight guests and keep raising the bar for entertainment experiences.