Out-of-Home entertainment development continues, and in his latest Virtual Arena column, industry specialist Kevin Williams reveals the appearance of the Oculus Quest 2 into the commercial entertainment scene. With the launch of a brand new free-roaming platform from Scale-1 Portal, and the deployment of a brand new business model to allow the hardware into the commercial sector.
The continued development of location-based entertainment (LBE) takes place even though most entertainment facilities are temporarily closed due to local restrictions. Some of that development is towards a new generation of arena-scale (or free-roaming) platforms that allow multiple players to be immersive without the issues of wearing a backpack PC.
The use of the new mobileVR (standalone) headsets was seen as a logical opportunity, but there were numerous roadblocks towards this as previously covered in our feature on standalone LBE VR development. But French developer Scale-1 Portal has announced the first system that officially deploys the Oculus Quest 2 into the commercial entertainment market, and offers a brand new business model for operators.
Speaking exclusively regarding their new release, Scale-1 Portal has rolled out the finished VOXEL ARENA, previously covered last year in prototype form in our industry roundup. The first installation of this system was undertaken in Canada during August 2020, and the company now has made available the full system to operators. Now including a unique business model that allows venues to deploy multiple Quest 2 headsets in their facilities.
There are restrictions to use the consumer Oculus Quest 2 hardware for commercial business, blocked by the Terms of Service (ToS). However, the Oculus for Business program has been established for enterprise usage of Oculus hardware. Scale-1 Portal is a member of the Oculus ISV (Independent Software Vendors) Program supporting developers using their systems in enterprise. Through this relationship, they have been able to create a unique business model to deploy this hardware in entertainment.
Entertainment operators can now purchase through the Oculus Business Edition program, multiple Quest 2 headsets that also come with a mandatory yearly maintenance and support fee. The operator then has access to the Scale-1 Portal Cloud version of VOXEL ARENA, the subscription service supports up to six players. Playing one of three unique games available on the platform (including Sep’s Diner, and Guns&Dust), players compete within a 4×5 meter player space.
The Business Edition of the Oculus hardware does not need a Facebook login, (a requirement that has been contentious with the consumer VR community). The commercial version having a unique ToS for Enterprise. This release seems to be the only real fruit of the Capability Concept Demonstrator (CCD), that Oculus showed back in 2018 at OC5 that had promised the use of Quest hardware in locations.
The Scale-1 Portal business model is the only legal means for operators to deploy the Quest 2 hardware in their facilities and avoid action. It will be interesting to see how many operators jump at the opportunity to have a cost-effective solution to running free-roaming VR., and what other VR standalone systems follow suit.
Scale-1 Portal has also made use of their time towards looking at pivoting into the consumer VR scene. The company will be launching a home version of their LBE videogames. Announcing that the title Sep’s Diner has been released last December on SteamVR and SideQuest for gamers at home, with a multiplayer version emulating some of the features of the LBE version planned to be added. The company revealed that they will be supporting other standalone VR headsets, such as the Pico Neo series, with this consumer release.
We look forward to running a full review of the VOXEL ARENA LBE experience when the first of the facilities reopen in the coming months.