Do you remember the glory days of the local arcade? As a kid in the 90s, there was a local mini-golf course (RIP Castle Park) that had arcade cabinets galore, skee-ball, tickets, and even a water park. It eventually shut down, and I was left wanting more. Fast forward to 2018 and gaming attractions like WePlayVR are making location-based experiences a fun and stress-free way to play games again, except this time it’s in VR.
VR Gaming Pods
Renting out larger than life retail spaces has never been a cheap fact of life for gamers with a dream to open up their own VR arcade. That’s where A.I. Solve’s WePlayVR gaming pods shine. As a plug and play experience, WePlayVR booths are an exciting standalone VR experience that can set up shop inside a mall, theme park, museum, or arcade.
Players won’t be competing against teammates or strategizing against drones or zombies. This isn’t a warehouse scale, long play, or first-person shooting experience like Zero Latency. WePlayVR hosts single player, four player, and multiplayer room-scale experiences that run for about 5 minutes for single players and small groups and up to 10 minutes for large parties of about 6 to 10.
Free-roaming players will be fitted with a wire-free gaming backpack that’s compatible with the HTC Vive headset, and two controllers as they walk around constructed pathways that have been customized to the VR gameplay and interact with their virtual and real-life surroundings. Multiplayer parties have a chance to walk around or drive in VR, depending on the size of the game pod.
The transformation of the WePlayVR gaming units doesn’t stop at size and shape. Each VR booth is equipped with a motion floor platform designed with haptic technology that moves and vibrates along with the action of games like Mayan Adventure, Alien Invasion, and Clock Tower.
Walking along a dusty path in Mayan Adventure is so immersive the floor will shake at moments that will take you by surprise, as your senses are being taken on an adventure through Mayan ruins and mysterious passageways. Or try going for a round in Alien Invasion like Ben Lang from Road to VR did and shoot some skittering aliens. The tech writer notes that the haptic floor tricked his senses into experiencing movement and rumbles while standing still taking the elevator and stepping onto a moving platform in the VR game.
The Gaming pods are not only fooling the senses with haptics, WePlayVR also has a system that can support 4D special effects. Prime Time Amusements explains that A.I. Solve and Bandai Namco Amusements uses 4D prop fittings on walls to simulate a gust of wind, the heat of a fire, mists of all sorts, and realistic scents (hopefully none that are gross) to immerse their players fully in virtual games (take note, Dreamscape Immersive).
Now try and imagine what it feels like to shoot an alien and get sprayed in the face with a fine mist of water at the same time. Gross, right? Effective and immersive? Exactly what they’re going for.
VR Fun For All
A special attraction like WePlayVR is bringing virtual reality to malls, arcades, and amusement parks in small doses to attract fans of VR or future gamers who have never put on a headset before. Anyone, young or old, fit or not, can step into a VR pod for a few minutes to see firsthand what the hypes all about.
Players that step into the WePlayVR pod experience won’t be sweating up a storm or racing around elevating their heart rate. At best, players will share some exciting moments, have a few laughs, and will walk around for 5 to 10 minutes (wear a smartwatch to track data). Overall, the VR gaming experience is an activity to do with friends who game or don’t, and family members looking for a new adventure. Also, it won’t eat your quarters and won’t last long enough to take away from the main event of shopping or waiting in line for a rollercoaster.
A.I. Solve and Bandai Namco will be collaborating to bring WePlayVR to EAG International 2018 on January 16-18 at ExCel London Exhibition Centre if you’re in the neighborhood and want to pop in for a demo.
We’re not sure on how much an individual game session will run you or where you can locate one of the 16 existing gaming pods, but we do know that interested arcades and retailers can purchase WePlayVR to the tune of $55,000 and a $1,500 yearly game licensing price tag that has a separate expense for uploading new games.