Standalone technology is leading the way for a brand new wave of location-based VR.
We’re not even half way through 2020 and so far this year is shaping up to be a big one for standalone location-based VR thanks to the Oculus Quest. Experiences such as MissionX, Triton VR, and Cyberaction are leading a new genre of arena-scale VR experiences which require players to physically move throughout their play spaces.
It’s predicted that the location-based VR industry could grow by 36% between 2020 and 2023. That translates into a $1.48 billion industry that includes arcades, cinema, and theme parks; with multiple global developers pushing VR software and hardware tech into new directions, however, the market could expand beyond this prediction.
Facebook’s Oculus Quest headset is contributing heavily to the rise of arena-scale location-based VR, due primarily to its affordability, convenience, and wireless 6dof capabilities.
The continued growth of the VR esports industry has been another contributing factor in the rise of LBVR. Just recently, Oculus, iBuyPower and several other companies teamed up to host the first-ever Pistol Whip VR tournament which included an impressive $10K prize pool.
With both location-based VR and esports continuing to grow, many companies are seeing it as an opportunity to grow with them.
Chicken Waffle, the Texas-based company behind the hilarious and super silly VR baby simulator, Baby Hands, has partnered with CENTERTEC on the launch of a brand new location-based VR esports experience called Blazer League.
The competitive immersive experience can best best described as Tron meets Ender’s Games, allowing up to 16 players to go head-to-head in a shared virtual space using Oculus Quest and Focus+ headsets.
“Tetherless VR like the Quest allows players to become fully immersed within their environments,” said Chicken Waffle CEO Finn Staber in an interview with VRScout. “As location-based VR evolves, we see player exploration and physical movement as a great way to entice customers.” Staber then adds, “We are growing our efforts for publishing partnerships with indie developers to work on cool VR content. We have been working with several teams, and we are looking forward to working with more!”
Last month we saw a preview of I-Illusions Space Pirate Arena, when YouTuber Nathie was invited to a large warehouse to demo the game using a Quest headset. In the video, we see Nathie and another player running around a large empty cement room. In-headset, however, players saw a futuristic building peppered with various walls and barriers in which to take cover behind.
Not too long ago we ourselves went hands-on with a single-player arena-scale VR game for the Oculus Quest called MissionX. A new update entitled “Coronavrius Killer” allows the player to battle waves of deadly coronavirus baddies using a laser pistol. Much like existing multiplayer LBVR games, Coronavirus Killer has you moving throughout your real-world environment in order to dodge projectiles. The primary game mode is a 1v1 deathmatch, with larger team-based game modes on the way.
Staber, who is really psyched about where location-based VR is going, has already received recognition for Blazer League. During AWE 2019, his company showcased its work and won an industry award for “Best in Show”. Not only that, Blazer League was named “Best Esports Experience” at CES 2020.
During an appearance on AltspaceVR‘s The Hive with Navah Berg, Joanna Popper, Global Head of Virtual Reality for Location-Based Entertainment at HP, talked about why location-based VR was becoming so popular:
“For many people, location-based entertainment is their first experience with VR. This includes VR experiences at Disney and Universal Studios, and they have all of the bells and whistles with a great story, awesome visuals, and cool haptics. It’s really exciting and fun, and it’s social, you are in these experiences with your friends and family, and it becomes this amazing memorable moment that you want other people to experience.“
Of course with COVID-19 outbreak forcing the closure of major theme parks and VR arcades around the world, the momentum location-based VR had been generating has since slowed dramatically.
But that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Many retailers have been reporting a shortage of Oculus Quest headsets, which is actually a good thing in the long run. It means that people are turning to VR to stay entertained and connected. It shows that demand is high and that immersive technology is only becoming more prevalent in these isolated times.
The creatives over at Chicken Waffle agree, and remain optimistic that the LBVR industry will spring back bigger than ever. “As things move back to something more normal, people everywhere, adults, kids and teenagers will be looking for ways to pass the time. Location-based VR will be the perfect solution as our communities become active again.” said Staber.
Image Credit: Cyberaction / Nathie