With location-based VR centers popping up across the country, U.S. consumers are starting to get a taste of what VR can do without the investment of hundreds of dollars for new computing and display equipment. Unique, free-roam experiences from HOLOGATE, Zero Latency, The VOID, and Dreamscape Immersive have all had impressive launches in North America and European markets. Manufacturers such as StarVR and Tactical Haptics are supplying high-resolution headsets and next-generation haptic controllers, improving the conventional location-based VR experience. But despite these developments, how much do consumers really care about location-based virtual reality?
In Greenlight Insights' 2017 Virtual Reality Consumer Survey, a majority of consumers who were knowledgeable of virtual reality reported interest in location-based VR entertainment (LBE VR). In the annual survey of over 2,000 U.S. consumers, 53% of respondents reported interest in VR arcades (top 2-box score). Furthermore, 58% and 66% expressed interest in VR as part of a theme park attraction and movie-going experience, respectively.
Why Location-Based VR Matters To The Entire Industry
Entertainment centers and other out-of-home locations will be increasingly important to the mass adoption of virtual reality. In the survey, 77% of VR headset owners said that a demo of a headset was important to their eventual purchase decision. With that in mind, an LBE VR experience could be the first time a consumer is exposed to what VR is and these locations are steadily increasing in numbers.
The VR arcade segment of the LBE VR market has taken off since 2016. VR arcades, pop-up locations, and other small retail venues account for more than two-thirds of global locations and one-half of global spending.
What Will Be The Winner in 2022?
Currently, consumer familiarity with virtual reality is growing each year, but we are still years away from true mass adoption. As consumer and commercial use of devices increase, so too will the appetite for premium VR experiences.
Once more consumers purchase headsets and use VR more often, they will not want to pay for experiencing the same caliber of experience that they can get at home. This is why venue operators are now investing in premium hardware platforms and exclusive content. And we are seeing that those LBE and FEC operators that do, benefit from higher utilization rates and revenue per square foot.
VR arcades may continue to rule the market in the short-term as consumers learn about VR. But in years to come, the awe-inspiring experiences of tomorrow will soon outshine the VR experiences of today.
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