Sunday, January 8, 2017

Could VR Bring Back the “Golden Age of Arcade”?

Back to the Future, Terminator 2, War Games… These classic 80’s movies might be your only place to go to see Arcades in all their glory nowadays. It was a time when gaming was social and took place in public places, because the computing power to bring you Pac Man was just too expensive for the home.

In this video we’ll take a look at a potential resurgence of commercial gaming spaces, thanks to VR technology. 

For the first time since the 80’s, VR technology has made playing the latest in video games unaffordable. The majority of gamers I know have not even tried commercial VR headsets like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift yet. 

Enter the VR Arcade, an affordable way to play the newest games with your friends. VR Arcades are popping up around Asia in places like Japan, China, and South Korea. Gamers in these countries are already accustomed to gaming away from home in “Net Cafe’s”, so the jump to VR Arcades is a natural one. 

While it remains to be seen whether VR Arcades could gain any traction in North American and European markets, where the entrenched gaming paradigm is gaming at home—there are several advantages to this model of gaming: 

1. Players don’t need to worry about purchasing expensive technology that becomes quickly outdated. Players can always play the latest VR systems at the arcade. 

2. Players don’t need to clear a large area in their house to play. While some games exist that have you simply stand or sit in place, these games are far less immersive than ones that have you move around in virtual space. Some VR games can be great exercise too! 

3. VR becomes more social. People would be more likely to go with their friends and play together. Games could be played together or even just watched, like the green-screen clip in the video. 

4. VR Game Designers can take advantage of Arcade-Level systems, custom-game controllers, and large spaces. A major restriction for HTC Vive games, for example, is confining gameplay to a small area. Immersive VR requires tactile feedback and freedom to move around. 

2016 saw a few VR arcades pop up around the US. San FranciscoChicagoD.C. have all seen VR Arcades open in the past month. The standard rate seems to be about $30 per hour. Business seems to be doing "alright", and reported customer satisfaction is quite high.

What do you think about the possibility of VR Arcades in the near future? Feel free to post your ideas in the comments!