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What is LBE VR?

Location Based Entertainment Virtual Reality, or LBE VR, is an entertainment format that combines gaming platforms and VR attractions. It turns virtual reality technology into a business opportunity for its owner and a source of exciting emotions for customers.

At the heart of each LBE location are one or several types of VR attractions:
  • Arcade VR games
  • VR ride attractions
  • Arenas: Small, Medium, Large
So, you may ask, why should people come to VR clubs and how does LBE VR differ from home VR? There’s a simple logical answer. Such thrilling emotions are difficult to experience in real life, and the easiest way to encounter them is to visit a VR club.

Each VR format has its own features and offers a different gaming experience:
  1. Arcade VR games: really not much different from home VR, but with a wider range of features that not all users can afford at home - for example, the ability to play in a large group of friends.
  2. VR ride attractions: allow the user to feel and experience the various movements of a range of different vehicles, simulating speed and motion.
  3. Small arena (5х5): the ability to immerse and comfortably play any game.
  4. Medium arena (10х10): the opportunity for a wider circle of friends, colleagues and others to take part in a process convenient for each of the players with full immersion in the game.
  5. Large arena (10х20 and greater): the possibility of free and comfortable play by any company on a large area, allowing all to feel the game in its full visualization and expanse.
In addition to those listed above, LBE VR offers guests additional factors of immersion in the game, including things like tactile vests, machine guns, imitation of wind, and even smells.

The main factor that attracts people to VR clubs today is the ability to immerse themselves in a new and unfamiliar environment without risk to their lives - for example, fighting zombies, walking over an abyss, seeing distant worlds, experiencing fear, and so on.

In the entertainment industry, much of the above can be achieved through other means - such as laser tag, escape rooms, cinema, and so forth. VR, however, allows to combine the content of various formats and for different target audiences in a single attraction.

What are the different types of LBE VR?

To understand what LBE VR is, it’s first worth answering the questions: “What is it?” and “What distinctive features each type of augmented reality format has?”

On the Internet, you can find different names of LBE VR businesses - VR Location, VR Park, VR Club. What do they signify and what is meant by each of them? Let's take a look at each of these options:
VR Location - a general term for a location where specialized VR attractions are located.
VR Club - a small venue with several attractions and small arenas. The distinctive features are small size (150-300 square meters), games oriented towards youth, and the source of traffic - walk-in or digital.

VR Park - a large venue (500 square meters and more), with many attractions and arenas (large, small and medium). The distinctive feature is high capacity, lounge areas for large companies, and the use of various channels to attract customers.

What is needed to open an LBE VR establishment?

First, it is necessary to answer several important questions:
  1. “Who are my clients?” - to determine your target audience
  2. “How will you attract customers?” - search for promotion channels
  3. “What kind of content does my target audience need?”
  4. “How many customers do you want to serve per day?”
Answers to these questions will give you the understanding of the details of creating and launching your business - what kind of space you need, what content and content providers you should consider, and of course where to allocate your marketing budget.

What are the main trends in VR technologies?

Every business owner who is considering opening their own establishment asks themselves: "What should I fill it with? What kind of entertainment should I install for my customers?" To give an accurate answer to these questions means to have up-to-date information about the differences that exist between various VR systems. One of the first and most important steps in opening a VR club is choosing the equipment, namely the VR headset.

To avoid making a mistake when choosing a headset, you should pay attention to the following points:

First on the list is the choice of technology: wired or standalone (wireless) VR headset.

A wired headset is one that needs to be connected to a computer or game console. In this case, the VR application runs on the device to which the headset is connected.

Pros of wired headsets: better image quality, can be lighter than their wireless counterparts.
Cons of wired headsets: the wire is physically cumbersome, reduces immersion, and limits the size of the play area. It is also an expense for businesses, with some cords costing up to $150 per unit.

Standalone headsets can run applications on the built-in headset processor. Many of them now have the function of connecting to a computer or phone.
Pros of standalone headsets: freedom of movement, no wire. Prices start at $400 per headset.
Cons of standalone headsets: graphics quality is lower than their competitors, battery adds extra weight, and performance depends on battery charge.
Conclusion: wired headsets are advisable for setting up VR arcade games. There are special computers that visually look like backpacks, which allow for free movement with wired headsets.

Wireless headsets can be recommended for organizing gaming spaces up to 400 square meters. For larger areas, tracking system distortions of the headset may occur.
The most popular sizes of arenas on the market are 5x5 and 10x10 meters. While large arenas (10x20 meters or more) have gained some popularity, too. However, the variety and amount of content for these types of arenas are inferior to more common, smaller ones.

Then there’s the question of how to increase the amount of content for standalone headsets? The answer is that they can be connected to a computer and VR games can be launched from Steam. To do this, you can use software solutions for wireless emulation of a wired connection like Virtual Desktop, Oculus AirLink, and ALVR.

With the help of such software and Wi-Fi access points with a standard no lower than 802.11ac (also known as Wi-Fi 5) it is possible to organize a wireless connection of the helmet to a computer. Currently, wireless connections for 4-8 players are possible without significant difficulties. Setups of up to 20 wireless connections are possible in an area of about 500 square meters, but they require professional equipment and experienced engineers to configure the network.

The advantage of Free Roam VR venues is the best immersion in virtual reality due to the absence of cable restrictions. Spectacular moments with screaming and actively moving players occur only when using this technology. Customers do not experience the typical feeling of motion sickness that is sometimes caused when using a joystick when they are forced to stand still.
The downside is that the throughput per square meter of useful space in the room is not the highest, which results in a relatively high ticket price.

In the end, it can be said that Free Roam VR, in most cases, becomes the anchor product for VR locations.
For another direction of Free Roam - Full Body VR, special content is needed where the player fully controls his body, including his legs. The effect is achieved by installing additional equipment or by programmatic rendering of leg movements.

Freedom of movement, including one's own legs, in 99% of cases causes surprise and delight in the customer - bright emotions, the achievement of which is the fundamental goal of any entertainment establishment.

As for the drawbacks, the relatively high cost of equipment and its maintenance can be mentioned.
The future of the industry is that simpler and more budget-friendly ways of achieving Motion Capture technology capabilities are emerging on the market using webcams in real-time. This allows for the use of the Full Body VR effect without specific expensive equipment.
In this article, we have explored modern types of LBE VR locations, as well as various options for filling them: attractions and arenas. We have also highlighted the main challenges and opportunities faced by those who want to start a business in the LBE VR industry. The next article will be a continuation of this topic. You will learn how to choose a location for opening your own VR business.