For our arcade preview of IAAPA, click here.
Ever since the Oculus Rift VR headset began making headlines around 2012, the amusement industry has had a little bit of an obsession with the tech. Our business is where VR tried, and failed, to get a foothold in the 1990’s and despite that setback, many have dreamed of it becoming the Next Big Thing. Last year at IAAPA 2017, the interest in VR was quite high as around sixty different companies demonstrated some kind of VR product or application in the hopes that the market would embrace it. Here is a collection of those products that I placed into one video:
A year later and it is looking like VR is going to be making an even stronger showing at the, so let’s shine a spotlight on these technologies. Currently the VR category for IAAPA 2018 as a whole (which includes AR and MXR), is up to 83 exhibitors from 60.
As a disclaimer before we get started, however: I wholly reject the notion that is being floated around as VR being some kind of “replacement” of arcade machines. No matter how you cut it, amusement VR falls into the “location-based attraction” category(go karts, bowling, laser tag, motion theaters, etc.), even in instances of arcade-style machines. This is because wearable tech is supervised tech, and supervised tech simply cannot find the same reach in street operations that arcade machines can. That doesn’t mean it can’t earn or find it’s niche; just that treating VR as a “replacement” does more harm than it does good when you look at the big picture for our industry expanding.
That said, certain AR and MXR technologies do not have the same issue when they do not require wearable displays.
I also am seeing a lot of these new companies proclaiming that they are the “first” to do something with their platform, when they are not. As a recommendation to PR people – please do some research into what’s been at previous IAAPA events before making such claims. 😉
In case you’re confused by the AR/MXR/VR terminology, and how it will be defined in the text below, I’d recommend reading this post first.
With that out of the way, let’s see what VR titles are coming to IAAPA 2018, going alphabetically by the product name. I cannot cover all of those here, but am sharing those who sent me a press release or e-mail:
Arkave VR (YDreams Global)
Coming in with another “room scale multi-user VR platform,” this developer will be installing the first instance of their Arkave VR platform into the Pointe Orlando Mall, where IAAPA attendees will have to go there to check out the “wave-based alien shooter game, “The Last Squad.” They also state: “Arkave VR includes a modular set-up of HTC Vive headsets and backpacks; an arena server, and lighthouse sensors, and on-site support for a variety of 3-person experiences.” Otherwise the company will have a booth at the show (4552).
Assassin’s Creed VR (Triotech)
Last year, motion simulator company Triotech introduced their take on VR with their VR Maze. The initial software offering included an exclusive Rabbids experience. It now enjoys an exclusive Assassin’s Creed experience, that will be on-hand this year. Here’s a preview; you’ll find them at booth 1578
Beat Saber (VRSenal)
While we had discussed the existence of a Beat Saber Arcade machine coming out of Korea, it seems that the developer is happy to license the game out to anyone for similar use. A company by the name of VRSenal sent out a flyer in a package sent to pre-registered attendees, but this video just posted provides a better look. You’ll find VRSenal at booth 3886.
Chaos Jump (Minority Media)
This is a new multiplayer VR platform that has been designed to provide a compact footprint (12’x12′) and a system to provide frequent content updates. For the first game that is coming with the platform, I’ll quote from the release: “Chaos Jump is a VR adventure! A party of up to 4 adventurers battle a robot army determined to stop them as they travel across space and time to retrieve gold, treasure, and artifacts from 18 exotic worlds. Players are equipped with cool laser blasters to fight off the robot attackers, and vacuum guns to collect the gold and artifacts, with everything scored and displayed in real-time. Players can choose avatars for the virtual world and a randomizer selects from among 18 worlds for them to play in. A winner is announced after each 6.5-minute game and scores are highlighted on the exterior displays. Leaderboards are essential for groups renting the game system for private events.” I also received an e-mail from Replay Magazine serving as a coupon to get $10k off on one of these, but just at the show; they also sent out a PR saying that they have installed one at the Camelback Lodge in Pennsylvania. If you’re interested in what they have to offer, you’ll find them at booth E7521.
Here’s our first AR application on the list, an HMD designed for out-of-home entertainment locations, particularly theme parks and museums. They will be unveiling a special collaboration with PBS (the public TV channel). They will be at booth 2278.
This company has brought their multiplayer VR installation to various amusement trade shows, and now they are getting together with Rovio for a VR attraction that is tied to The Angry Birds Movie 2 (which I had no idea was in the works 😛 ). They recently unveiled new haptic vests that offer greater immersion with “40 vibration points” across the body, so I would assume that those will be on hand at IAAPA. They will also be unveiling other collaborations with “AAA gaming and movie brands” at the show, expanding the amount of content that will be offered on the platform pictured below. Creative Works is serving as their North American distributor, so you’ll find them at the Creative Works booth 4471.
Hologram Arcade Table (Euclideon)
Holograms have long been the holy grail of immersive display technologies, with a variety of companies creating both true volumetric displays and pseudo-holographic ones. The methods to get there aren’t always what you might expect, as we saw with one company last year. This year, an Australian company by the name of Eclideon will be promoting an Augmented Reality product they simply call the Hologram Arcade Table, although by the promo video below, I think that this is not a true volumetric display, but a kind of augmented one (due to the users all using glasses). You’ll find this one at booth E7145.
This company will have a few different VR related products to show, although they have been mentioning non-VR tech like dome screens on their Twitter account as well. They also are teaming up with the water slide company Whitewater for a “strategic partnership,” but it is unclear what kind of attractions that will entail at the moment. Booth info below.
— Holovis (@HolovisInt) November 8, 2018
Hurricane 360 VR (DOF Robotics)
The latest rendition of DOF Robotic’s motion theaters will be on-hand; here’s my previous look at their VR application; they’re at booth #1388:
As mentioned in the initial IAAPA preview post, I was very surprised to see InJoy Motion on the exhibitors list, as they had been completely quiet for the past two years. The last time we saw them, they were touting a couple of different motion VR products in conjunction with a company called FutureTown. I have not heard what they plan on bringing this time, but it is supposed to be VR and motion simulator related:
After debuting Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride last year, the company is touting that “The Big Ride just got even bigger!” in ads. Whether that means a collaboration with a motion theater maker or an even larger version of the existing big ride, we’ll have to wait and see. They’ll be at booth 1033.
This is a company that I’ve seen at a few of the past subsequent IAAPA’s, although I am not aware of them coming to any of the other amusement events (Amusement Expo and such). They have always been at the forefront of the VR Attraction craze so you can expect to see something interesting over at their booth (1069).
@IAAPAHQ 2018 is next week! Come experience first hand our MX4D Flying EFX Theatre, MX4D VR Solutions, and multi-purpose MX4D POD at booth #1069! #MediaMation #MX4D #IAE2018 pic.twitter.com/Tqpsux1GfV
— MediaMation Inc (@MediaMationMX4D) November 8, 2018
Mystery Island/Magix Bowling (Touch Magix)
Mentioned in the arcade preview post, Touch Magix has been heavy on the MXR and AR side of things. While that includes the previously seen Magix Floor & Mannequin Challenge AR games, they will debut the release version of Mystery Island, along with their AR bowling alley tech. Here’s a video I took of the Mixed Reality game Mystery Island back at Amusement Expo 2018 (just keep in mind, the final version has a completely re-designed cabinet and modified software:
Another company working on free roaming VR, they will be offering “an exclusive VR experience created by PlatformaVR at the upcoming IAAPA 2018” event. Their main focus has been on markets in Eastern Europe, and IAAPA will mark their first entry into the USA. They also stated “our library comprises three exclusive VR multiplayer games and new titles are released every four-five months.”
This is a company that offers an interesting and diverse portfolio of simulator products, such as automated goalies for soccer and ice hockey. But this year, they are bringing several VR products to bear – from the Finger Coaster (which has been around for a couple of years) to a Jurassic Escape VR ride, Fly Max (a VR hang glider), a walk the plank VR platform and a turret shooter inside of a combat vehicle structure called Exterminator. Find them at booth # E7213
Total Recoil (Raydon)
Here is another arcade-style VR title, that reminds me of the Vortek V3 VR games from the early 2000’s. This setup is a little bigger than that, but does focus on turret based gameplay. We’ll have to wait and see if it will offer coin-operation or not. This has been designed by a company in Florida who has generally focused on creating military training applications.
Voxel Mixed Reality (Creative Works/Scale-1 Portal)
We’ve covered the Scale-1 Portal in the past, one of the few augmented experiences that had the wearable tech downsized to 3D glasses. The system uses a combination of stereoscopic 3D projection mapping and a Kinect sensor to create an immersive, controller-less experience. It’s a bit different than the headset experience, while producing a similar feel.
Well, the company behind the Voxel stage is back and this time they are teaming up with Creative Works to promote the Voxel Mixed Reality system. By what I can tell, this is a re-branding of the same Voxel system that was at IAAPA last year, capable of supporting up to four players at a time.
VR Arena (Virtuix/Funovation)
The next model in the series of the Omni Arena (click here for a video of that) is the VR Arena. This new take on the idea is pushing the eSports aspect, with enhanced leaderboards and more game content that pushes competition. You can read more about this new platform here.
VR Ninja Dojo (Five For Co. Ltd)
If you have ever pretended to be or cosplayed as a ninja, then this game is for you. As a “small theme park” attraction, players are dressed up as a ninja, don the headset and are trained in the ninjitsu arts (as quickly as one can be for an attraction), then play the game you seen here below. It reminds me of arcade games like Mazan: Flash of the Blade and Blade of Honor. I would not be surprised that since this one is so involved, that you’ll need to wait a while to get a chance to play it; you can find out more on their official website here.
“VR” Trampoline (Ideas Extremas)
Here’s one that misuses the VR line, I’d categorize it as a Mixed Reality game. The player jumps around the padded room where the game imagery is projected onto the walls. Could make a great addition/upgrade to one of the many trampoline parks that have sprung up out there.
We Play VR (A.I. Solve/Bandai Namco Amusements)
Seen last year, the latest version of the We Play VR modular VR platform is expected to be found at the Bandai Namco Amusements booth. I have not heard any details on what exactly it will entail (such as new games or the racing platform), so we’ll just have to wait and see:
X Arc & X Hub (Exit Reality)
This company is presenting two VR products at the show, first the X Arc, a 1-4 player, multi-game tethered hub. It is described as: “…a turnkey VR gaming solution that is packaged with Neurogaming’s PlayVR content platform and optimized for the out-of-home entertainment industry.” That content platform provides “a wide choice of exclusive VR content, including popular games Alpha CentaVR and RevolVR, and fan favorites such as Beat Saber.” This marks the product’s debut. You can find this at booth #E7135
The X HUB is also being billed as a “group play” product, although the image here only shows one tethered user. According to the developer, the X HUB “uses LIV’s mixed reality built-in V-Screen technology and Springboard’s massive library of content to provide the ultimate location-based VR attraction for FECs.”
As a note, I do not see Zero Latency on the IAAPA Exhibitor’s List, they had been prominent at the past couple of events.
As mentioned, this is not every VR piece that will be at the show; like last year, I won’t be surprised if I overlook something. Making sure all the arcades are covered comes first, so with this level of competition among VR, the companies involved are going to have to pull out all the stops to be noticed.
See you at the show!