Virtuix, developer of the Omni Arena virtual reality esports attraction, has teamed up with HP to present the 2020 Omni Arena esports series with a $100,000 cash prize pool.

The Omni treadmill is a unique motion platform that enables 360-degree movement while the player is in virtual reality. This means the player can physically run around in VR while playing the game.

I had the opportunity to experience the Omni recently at the Rockin’ Raceway in Pigeon Forge, TN. After twelve minutes, I was exhausted. Anyone who says VR esports isn’t a real sport obviously hasn’t been in an active VR game.

Normally I play virtual reality seated, but the Omni Arena is a standing experience where you’re strapped into the Omni treadmill, a contraption that looks somewhat like a baby walker. It’s comfortable and the headset has a cord that’s attached to a pulley system above your head so there’s no risk of you getting tangled.

This was the first time I had played on an Omni so I was excited to earn the top score, but the two young men in the game with me were brand new to VR so I’m not sure that top score counts for much. They actually came to the Rockin Raceway from a nearby state specifically to try virtual reality and the Omni Arena, which just proves that initiatives such as this are effective for introducing VR.

Omniverse Esports

Many people who play VR at location-based venues enjoy going with friends and a local community of players and spectators can develop around the experience.

Virtuix launched the Omniverse Esports competitive gaming platform in late 2018 as an incentive for customers to return as they attempted to climb local and global leaderboards. The Omni Arena gives them an opportunity to win cash and other prizes.

“Our 2019 esports contests exceeded all expectations,” said Jan Goetgeluk, founder and CEO of Virtuix. “More than 1,000 players in over a dozen countries participated. Given the success of the series, we are thrilled to double our prize pool for 2020.”

In Omni Arena’s weekly and monthly contests, four-player teams compete for spots on the global leaderboard.

“The physical engagement of the Omni combined with competitive, multiplayer gaming is a winning formula for location-based entertainment that results in high repeat play,” Goetgeluk continued.

Of course the prize money doesn’t hurt either. Right now the $100,000 prize pool makes it the most valuable VR esports competition in 2020. In addition to cash prizes, winning teams will receive an HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset. This lightweight tethered headset has dual 2160 x 2160 LCD panels and a 114° field of view with six degrees of freedom. Retail price is $599 so this is an exceptional prize itself.

“We are excited to participate in the Omni Arena esports contest series,” said Joanna Popper, HP’s Global Head of Virtual Reality for Location-Based Entertainment. “Virtuix has built a competitive gaming experience that requires both videogaming skills and physical fitness. Such active esports offer a unique way for entertainment venues to reach a new audience of gamers, build a community of frequent players, and showcase the groundbreaking technology that HP is known for.”

Interested players can find more information and sign up here.