The Virtual Arena: London’s VR Amusement Extravaganza

Kevin Williams gives us the lowdown on what was to see at the European Amusement and Gaming Expo (EAG).

As can be seen in The Virtual Arena’s IAAPA’17 coverage, the adoption of virtual reality (VR) technology into the international scene has continued apace – and the UK and Europe scene are no different. Kevin Williams continues his exclusive coverage of developments in the International VR Out-of-Home entertainment scene – by visiting the UK’s largest amusement trade show.

European Amusement and Gaming Expo (EAG) 2018
The amusement trade floor.

The 9th European Amusement and Gaming Expo (EAG) International Visitor Attraction Expo (VAE) at London’s ExCel venue, held last week – and the impression that immersive virtual attractions were having on the scene was self-evident, where last year there had be no exhibitors, this year’s event so a major upswing in interest in this technology.

British based company Immotion was one of the most prominent VR exhibitors with the full range of their VR amusement pieces. Fresh from the opening of their VRStar facility in Bristol – you can see a video of The Stinger Report’s coverage of the venue below. The company was presenting their systems to the show’s attendees – with their motorcycle, race car, and 9D simulators, developed by Chinese VR park developer LEKE VR and all running Depoon DP E3 headsets.

Another appearance of the Chinese VR manufacturing scene was on a UK distributor’s booth – with the company Movie Power exhibiting their VR Family, six-seater ride simulator platform running 3Glasses headsets. The system, as it stands,  represents the early phase of VR amusement development with much of the limitations of earlier times evident.

Riders “experience” the thrills of the VR Family

One of the latest phase of VR ride simulators was represented by the same UK distributor representing the LAI Gaming Virtual Rabbids Ride – the two-seat D-BOX powered simulator offering three ride experiences based on the popular Ubisoft property (running HTC Vive headsets).

Thills and spills with the Rabbids

The amusement developer UNIS was represented by their UK distributor who brought over to the show their Omni Arena platform, based in turn around the Virtuix Omni-direction platform. They were also running their brand-new Omni Arena eSports tournament platform, all of which were also operating with HTC Vive headsets.

Omni Arena At EAG VAG 2018
Competitive action from the Omni Arena

European firm Hologate started 2018 following on from the success achieved during 2017, bringing their Hologate VR platform to the London show at their own booth. The system running had up to four-players taking part in a frantic shoot ’em up experience, defending their position. The system using a novel ceiling mounted tether system with their HTC Vive headsets to address the issue of cable management. The company revealed plans for a brand-new videogame to be launched on their platform soon.

Hologate At EAG VAG 2018
Fully immersed witnin the Hologate universe

Represented by distributor BANDAI NAMCO, the company A.i.Solve presented their WePlayVR system to the EAG attendance. The system using a backpack PC and HTC headset system, with the players navigating the virtual environment within their specially developed enclosure incorporating vibrating panels and special maze layout. With already sixteen units placed in the field, the hardware has gained much interest.

AiSolve's WePlayVR At EAG VAG 2018
Navigating the virtual labyrinth from A.i.Solve

Eastern European based Stereolife brought three examples of their VR platforms, with their Flyer, a single player motion capsule with unique motion platform, offering 15 different experiences including interactive games as well as rides. Their stand-up EMotion platform, and their Rifter twin seat motion simulator using VR experiences. (All the systems powered by Oculus Rift head-mounted displays).

 

The single seat Flyer platform.

Along with the rest of the amusement sales on display at EAG 2018, the show organizers also held for attendees a one-day seminar covering the impact of VR and the amusement trade, moderated by KWP, allowing operators to hear from manufacturers, VR arcade operators and industry specialist on the issues and opportunities this technology offers their business. It popular and with standing room only.

A seminar on how business can profit from VR.

An explosion of VR Arcades has hit the Western market, and KWP recently visited several the newly emerging venues in the UK (you can find a video of some of those visited here). There continues to be a growth in developer in the capital, with London seeing plans for the opening of a dedicated VR Arena-Scale entertainment operation for later next month following on from the temporary Star Wars VR experience that opened last month.

The hard nose amusement and attractions trade now looking to see VR entertainment products generate serious revenue to prove their ability to prove a competitive opportunity to the other immersive entertainment tech that is gaining traction in the industry. While consumer application of VR fight to find its footing, the Out-of-Home entertainment scene seems to be gaining momentum.

Expect more news of major developments in the VR Out-of-Home entertainment scene in the coming weeks – with a special report from America’s leading amusement trade event in Las Vegas, and many exclusive new hardware and facility announcements – be sure to look out for more editions of The Virtual Arena, here exclusively on VRFocus.

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