The VR arcade was born
The advent of modern virtual reality headsets has created a new opportunity for small business. After decades of mom and pop retail shops, arcades, and lan centers closing their doors, the virtual reality arcade was born. Shortly after the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, courageous entrepreneurs full of passion started bootstrapping arcades across the globe. Many of which leaving their jobs and cashing in savings to follow their dream of running their own business. Equipped with unproven consumer equipment, and software to facility the operations, early operators faced many challenges. One of the first challenges of an LBVR operator was launching timed sessions for customers, while being able to restrict them from things like settings, and giving them the ability to launch select games themselves. Synthesis VR recognized these issues in their own arcade as early pioneers and sought out to come up with a solution which eventually evolved into the robust arcade management platform as it is today.
The VR arcade thrives
The second major challenge was licensing games for commercial use. Before VR was available Steam offered cafe licensing for lan centers and internet cafes to allow the commercial licensing of games on steam. As the number of arcades grew, vr developers began to offer their titles commercially on steam. One of the major draw backs where operators had to pay $30 to $100 a month per station, per game. This cost quickly added up and was unfeasible for the majority of arcades. Another solution was needed. This solution was the pay per minute model. With the ppm model, operators could licence dozens of games on all their stations but only pay for the time that was used. Synthesis VR helped forged this movement with the collaboration of dozens of developers with one goal, which was to make the best virtual reality content available to arcade operators and thus, arcade goers. When virtual reality sales seemed to be flat, arcades were becoming more known as a place to experience virtual reality. VR arcades were a new cultural place for social gathering and many developers began to create arcade versions of their game.
What does the future hold
The industry is still in its early stages but quickly maturing. These are the times decisions need to be made that can have lasting effects on its growth and well being. The LBVR operator community is unique in the way we built this industry together and shared information with one another. We need to decide if we are going to support exclusive content deals that only provide feasible pay per minute licensing to select licensing platforms. The community is to small to create a rat race of content deals in attempts to block the competition. With only a few licensing platforms available these deals could effectively block entire geographic locations from offering a game because a pay per minute model isnt offered and a monthly per station model is not feasible. The notion seems as ridiculous as a small town not getting a popular movie because a competing theater worked out exclusive rights to it and is not located in their town. Ultimately an arcade operator should never have to decide on an arcade management platform because of the content that has been granted to it. We need to decide as a community if we will support attempted strong armed content deals that seam to serve only one purpose. The future of the VR arcade from mom and pop to enterprise can be defined by these decision.