CES in Vegas ushered in the future earlier this month. Those arcade operators waiting with baited breath for the chance to offer a VR experience to their customers need wait no longer: the time is now.
This year’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the seminal trade show for cutting edge recreational technologies, was dominated by two letters: VR.
There’s been much hype about the technology in amusement arcade circles about how this revolutionary piece of entertainment equipment could one day transform the sector. Yet VR is no longer the stuff of science fiction: it’s already being used as a learning tool for surgeons, conference calls for businesses large and small, and yes, dedicated VR arcades are popping up all over Britain, and the world.
Jenna Seiden, head of content acquisition and partnerships for HTC’s new VR product, Vive, was the lead speaker at CES’ Virtual Reality conferences. She knows more than a little about the technology, and for her, the wait is over. VR is now poised for virtually endless possibilities.
“There are some unexpected places that VR is being applied,” Seiden explains. “For instance, in training simulations for firefighting and underwater drilling. At Vive we’re also seeing a lot of interest and recent activations for VR installations in academic and cultural institutions.”
The arcade sector is presented with a golden opportunity in the near future. VR is here, but it may yet be sometime before the immersive experience is firstly, cheap enough of everyone to own; and secondly, advanced enough to be operated to the full in a small space. This latter point has even less of a time frame – as VR includes movement, the opportunity for arcades to embrace their USP as a ‘venue’, enables them to apply the VR experience to a physical space, that could potentially never be replicated at home. And for the time being at least, exposing people to VR will naturally be done in a pay-as-you-go format, before the masses fork out their life savings to own.
“To truly understand the benefits of VR, you have to get within the headset and see the experiences for yourself,” Seiden asserts. “So getting VR into as many out-of-home locations like museums, VR arcades and more, is going to be a critical gateway to adoption for consumers. All of these are going to be very important in growing the VR ecosystem.”