Virtual reality is back in local malls when COVID restrictions are lifted

Sandbox VR is built to allow small groups to experience virtual reality together.

Sandbox VR

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Steve Jao’s business was promising until last year. His company, Sandbox VRTaken over the number of Retail space, And people came to shoot zombies, cross swords with treasure-hunting pirates, and explore distant planets as Star Trek crew members. They do all this by gathering in groups of up to 6 people in a 600 square foot room. So they wear virtual reality headsets, Attached backpack An array of sensors on the hands and feet.

The· Coronavirus Of course, he changed everything and the customer quarantined, effectively shutting down his business. “We thought,’Oh, that’s it,'” Zhao said. More than a year later, Zhao’s business is growing again as the world economy slowly resumes and all vaccines hit people’s arms.

Sandbox VR attracts you to full-body VR with backpacks, toy guns, and hand / arm sensors. The game can accommodate up to 6 players at a time.

Scott Stein / CNET

Since reopening in the spring when the state began deregulating, his 11 stores in the United States, Canada and Asia have seen ticket sales and foot traffic above pre-pandemic levels. And now his company is on track to make a profit next year.

“I think this platform is what people want. It’s an immersive, sociable, whole-body experience,” said Zhao, 38, who started making games at college. “We are trying to create an experience where you can make meaningful relationships with your friends.”

Zhao’s Business Bump is the latest in a series of anecdotal evidence that the video gaming industry, especially VR, may be promising for the newly reopening economy.Over the last year and a half, many of them have been in blockade mode Flocked to video games As a means of escape and entertainment. As of May, people were still playing and spending About 40% more money According to a survey by market research firm IDC, it is more on smartphones and tablet games than before the pandemic.And In another surveyOnly about 25% of gamers reported expecting to reduce their gaming habits as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.

People seem to be looking for other entertainment in addition to games.High octane action movie Wild speed 9 That first weekend, we competed for over $ 70 million in ticket sales The best single movie since December 2019 (Overall box office revenue It’s still down from before the pandemic). Larger economies are also showing positive signs, Work rebound And Rapid increase in retail sales..

Many SMEs have been closed in the last year, Zhao’s rival The Void, Sandbox VR plans to extend beyond its current location in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong and more. By late July, Shanghai and Las Vegas will be added, bringing the total number of corporate and franchise venues to 13. Up to $ 51 per ticket Up to 1.5 hours of experience including training and setup.

Lewis WardIDC analysts said they were skeptical of many of the location-based VR companies I heard before the pandemic. This is mainly because it seemed difficult to make money from something that looked a bit like a gimmick. But he also said that social factors that companies like sandboxes are focusing on can make a difference.

“Sociable outing ideas with friends, similar to paintball or something else, can be exciting,” Ward said. But in the long run, it’s the repeaters that make the difference. “It needs to be distinctive enough to keep people coming back.”

Rich DeMuro, a Los Angeles-based KTLA TV reporter, recently tried Sandbox VR. Deadwood Mansion, This will make your group fight hordes of zombies. “I quickly forget that I’m in the mall’s room,” he said in a report released on July 4. When he picked up the VR headset 25 minutes later with the digital undeath facing down, he said the experience was “Very intense.. “


Gear includes a backpack computer to power the headset.

Scott Stein / CNET

Surviving VR

Sandbox VR Apply for $ 754,000 or more The US Paycheck Protection Program during the pandemic era closed loans last year, primarily to pay staff salaries. The company has also begun contract work coding for other game makers to help pay bills. Zhao said he has begun trying to franchise the business in collaboration with the landlord.Still, he finally had File for bankruptcy, About 80% of the staff of about 100 people were temporarily dismissed, and the salaries of the remaining people were reduced.the company Apply for an additional $ 241,000 With PPP Loan in March of this year, To cover salary again.

Sandbox VR-299-49096746503-o

The array of sensor balls helps you track where your Sandbox video games are in the real world.

Sandbox VR

To help customers feel comfortable with their ideas Wear a headset worn by someone else During the pandemic, Sandbox VR employees wore masks and gloves, and said the company would disinfect and disinfect using government-recommended disinfectants. The company also states that masks must be worn if not vaccinated. Employees wear masks regardless.

Sandbox VR also added disinfection stations for use before and after each experience, initially placing customer appointments even further apart to reduce the possibility of contact between groups.

“I wanted the guests to feel that this was a safe space,” Zhao said.

He also wants to expand the variety of experiences Sandbox VR offers. Currently, there are five. Horror survival game To A futuristic one-on-one sword fighting game.. But he’s also interested in creating games that allow customers to use magic to become wizards and experience things like monsters with multiple arms.The· Needs development, He said, “it will take some time.”

Meanwhile, he hopes that people will continue to look for new types of entertainment as they become accustomed to returning to life outside the quarantine. And he believes it’s important to provide an experience like him in small groups.

“We don’t advertise ourselves as VR,” Zhao said. “We are bringing people into a different world.”

Virtual reality is back in local malls when COVID restrictions are lifted

Source link Virtual reality is back in local malls when COVID restrictions are lifted

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