Welcome to another Spring edition of Newsbytes. I’m your host, Arcadehero, and let’s take a quick look at some newsworthy arcade items to get you through the weekend. It’s good news all around, so let’s get to it:
Midwest Gaming Classic Drawing the Crowds
I’ve been hearing and seeing quite a lot of stuff about Midwest Gaming Classic, it seems to be bigger than ever before. Our friends at Arcadaholics even held a tournament for their game Cosmotrons, where Walter Day and Eugene Jarvis presented the awards to the winners. Let me know of anything else you see at the event worth discussing.
Round 1 USA Unveils New 2020 Locations
I received an e-mail about this last week (thank you Jerenze), but in my rush forgot to mention it in the last locations post, but Round1USA is continuing their strong growth by unveiling 14 new locations that will open up across the fruited plains of the United States in 2020. While more is coming to California, gamers in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington will get to experience what Round1 has to offer this year and next.
Pump It Up XX Headed To All Round 1 USA Locations
Speaking of Round 1, if you are a fan of PIU and have a Round1USA near you, then you’re in luck, as the company should have the popular dancing game at all of their locations if not be now, then very soon.
Rules Flowchart For Willy Wonka Pinball
Jersey Jack has been very busy promoting their latest title since the unveil last night. Among the items they posted about it was this helpful chart that shows you the rules. Click to enlarge:
Virtux VR Arena Opens At Pinballz In Texas To Great Success
With all of the VR talk in the industry for the past five years, one thing that has always seemed to elude conversations is how much money these units can actually make. Granted, not just any system with a VR headset is guaranteed to “print money,” so to speak – you need the right setup and software to bring people in and keep them coming back. Where these systems cost several times more than your average arcade game, the ROI becomes a greater hurdle to overcome, making the quality of the product even more important than is usual.
The only other LBE VR (“Location-Based Entertainment Virtual Reality”) game I’ve heard some numbers about is LAI’s Virtual Rabbids ride; and now we can add the Virtuix VR Arena to that basket as well. According to the press release that the company issue earlier this week, a VR Arena was installed at the Pinballz arcade in Austin, TX on March 7th, and between then and Pril 10th, the system was played more than 2,200 times, generating over $30,000 in revenue. If that impressive number holds up, the system should be paid off in well under a year – just a few months I believe.
While I had seen this a couple of years back, it was re-designed to put a stronger focus on eSports at IAAPA 2018, and that is the model that is found at Pinballz. Here’s a video of that; I will put the press release for this at the bottom of the post, so as to not bump the other news items too far down the page:
Exploring The Secrets Of Taito’s Bubble Bobble
Whether you are a fan of classic games or a student of game design, then this article over at Gamasutra entitled ‘Exploring the secret depths of Bubble Bobble‘s design’ should be of interest to you. The first part of the article details the game itself, the enemies and the basic mechanics. But if you keep on going, it then gets into the secrets, particularly the many candy power-up items and what they do. You’ll also learn about the secret rounds, in case you haven’t read about them already.
Rampage Game Proposal
On the subject of game history, game designer Brian Colin (formerly of Midway, currently of Game Refuge) released a tease of his initial game pitch for RAMPAGE, along with a photo teasing the press releases for when the game came out. It would be great to see the whole thing; you have to admire the confidence in the pitch of it being “next year’s #1 game.”
If you missed out on the documentary that covered the infamous urban legend surrounding Atari and the New Mexico cartridge dumping ground, and you have Amazon Prime, then you can now watch the film for free on that service. I remember watching it a while back when it was new and enjoyed it; I felt that they presented the history fairly and in enough detail to do the subject it’s proper due. Here’s a trailer
Dead Pixels – Video Game Music Cover Band
If you’re looking for something to listen to this weekend, then here a metal version of the Sabrewulf theme from Midway’s Killer Instinct. The band hasn’t posted anything else yet, so not sure if they’ll focus on arcade games or not:
Did You Know…?
That there’s an arcade in Malaysia with 28 Daytona USA cabinets? The game could only link 8 together, but still, when it comes to a massive local multiplayer game, this is like a LAN party on steroids.
— Akii (@AkiiCadenza) April 11, 2019
This post is just all about arcade and game history. Since most 70s era photos of game developers and their locations were taken in black & white, you start to feel like everything in the past was like that. It wasn’t of course, so you can only imagine what it might have been like. That said, I had no idea that the Atari HQ was so…citrusy? Or you could say Brazilian. Either way, great pics embedded into this tweet:
— We Are the Mutants (@WeAreTheMutants) April 10, 2019
Virtux Press Release:
As promised, here’s that PR:
VR ARENA Achieves First-Month Revenues of More Than $30,000 from 2,200 Plays
AUSTIN (April 10, 2019) – Virtuix, developer of the “Omni” virtual reality treadmill and “VR ARENA” esports attraction and Funovation, an industry leader in developing small-footprint attractions, announced that their new VR ARENA esports system achieved revenues of over $30,000 in its first month of operation from 2,200 plays, enjoying a repeat play rate of 15%. The world’s first VR ARENA was installed on March 7 at Pinballz, a family entertainment center in Austin, Texas. Since then more than 1,800 guests have played the attraction, paying $15 per play or $12 as part of a combo package. Players ranged in age from 5 to 65, with an average age of 26.
“VR ARENA has exceeded our expectations,” said Darren Spohn, owner of Pinballz. “Guests are loving the experience, and we see strong repeat play. Thanks to the esports prize competitions, we’re able to attract a new audience of gamers and entice guests to play again and again.”
VR ARENA includes weekly and monthly esports tournaments, organized by Virtuix and sponsored by HP and HTC, with an annual prize pool of more than $50,000.
“The big draw of the attraction is the ability to walk and run around inside a video game,” said Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix. “Such a unique experience cannot be had at home. We’ve seen some customers drive for more than an hour to come play.”
VR ARENA is a high-energy, four-player esports attraction that features four Omni motion platforms for walking and running inside virtual reality. The attraction can be operated by one attendant at a steady throughput of 20 players per hour. Pinballz staffs the attraction with one attendant, even on busy weekends.
“Operating VR ARENA by myself is intense but doable,” said Taylor Blomgren, a VR ARENA attendant at Pinballz. “The attraction has a steady rhythm to it, so I just follow the cadence and stay focused on working my way through the queue that’s displayed on the operator screen.”
Virtuix has published key insights from operating VR ARENA, including why throughput matters less than you think (utilization, efficiency, and ticket pricing are paramount). Read those insights on Virtuix’s blog here. Virtuix also published a walk-through video of VR ARENA here, and a video following a single attendant through a complete four-player cycle here.
Interested operators can download Virtuix’s VR white paper or sign up for a VIP demo of VR ARENA here.
Download our press kit here, including VR ARENA images and Omni action pics.
- See a video of VR ARENA here.
- Video links of past Omniverse ESPORTSTM events:
Founded in April 2013 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Virtuix Inc. is the pioneer of the “Active VR” category and is the developer of the Omni – the first-of-its-kind motion platform that enables 360-degree movement in virtual environments. Virtuix has shipped more than 3,000 Omni systems to more than 500 commercial entertainment venues around the world, making the Omni the most widely distributed VR hardware apart from head-mounted displays. The Omni system includes Omniverse, Virtuix’s proprietary content delivery and arcade management platform that currently features 20 VR games as well as esports competitive gaming. Virtuix, a private company, has raised more than $20MM from individual and institutional investors.
Founded in 2007, Funovation was born out of the desire to delight people through creating fun and exciting attractions while being highly profitable for the operator. Developing attractions that challenge people and require them to be active, both mentally and physically, all while having fun and enjoying a truly unique experience! Funovation specializes in small footprint attractions, including the Laser Maze Challenge with BeamBuster®, RAID™ (Rapid Alien Invasion Defense), and a partnership for the exclusive distribution of Omniverse VR ARENA in the U.S. and Canada. The company has a growing global following with over 300 product locations in 29 countries.