Interactive Gaming Rooms

Imagine stepping into a room where the walls come alive with adventures that leap beyond the screen—where you, your friends, and family become the central figures in an interactive gaming saga. This isn’t the future of entertainment; it’s happening right now in interactive gaming rooms across the globe.

These spaces are revolutionizing the way we think about gaming and social interactions, blending the digital and physical worlds in unprecedented ways. In the next issue of Replay magazine, we’re taking a dive into Interactive Gaming Rooms—not quite virtual reality, but definitely on the cutting edge of immersive entertainment. These spaces are compact, designed for multiplayer experiences, with interactive video on all sides, and powered by some of the same tech that’s revolutionized free-roam VR.

A Rapidly Expanding Category

Interactive Gaming Rooms are gaining momentum. They’re places where camaraderie meets technology, inviting players to step into games that are as social as they are engaging. The trend’s growing popularity underscores a shift in consumer expectations, with a growing demand for experiences that are not just immersive but also entertaining and social.

Operators who embrace this innovative concept can set themselves apart, offering something truly unique that goes beyond traditional entertainment options. Evidence of this is Dave and Buster’s investment in The Arena, a proprietary immersive gaming room they’re rolling out in locations across the country.

Above: Players experiencing “The Arena” at Dave and Buster’s.

Their announcement follows Merlin Entertainment’s growing investment in Immersive Gamebox, one of the pioneers of this segment.

Above: [Video] Bob and others playing Immersive Gamebox at IAAPA Orlando 2023.

If you’re not D&B and don’t have the resources to develop your own immersive gaming room, you still have options. 

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Inowize previewed QBIX last year and have spent the last 12 months dialing it in. In the locations where I have received earnings reports it’s generating about the same revenue as the mini-bowling and laser tag attractions for a fraction of the space and cost. 

Above: [Video] Bob’s review of QBIX from Inowize, including game play.

Valo Motion’s Valo Arena won the Brass Ring at IAAPA 2022 for best FEC attraction. It’s the largest footprint of the category and they encourage players to really move around. It’s doing incredibly well in active entertainment locations like trampoline and adventure parks. 

Above: [Video] Bob’s Interview with Eldad from Valo Motion about ValoArena.

And there’s a new entrant that showed up at IAAPA Orlando this last year called Arcade Arena. It accomodates up to 10 players with a mix of old-school gaming consoles interacting with motion tracked players inside a large 3-screen immersive gaming room. 

Above: [Video – click to play!] Bob and others playing Arcade Arenas “The Great Pig Escape” at IAAPA Orlando 2023. 

Arcade Arena has done an interesting job of combining consoles with immersive play, but every game required handholding and detailed instruction from the company founder during my demos at IAAPA.

Learn from the Experts

At the VR Summit, I’ll be moderating a panel on the topic including Pete Stearns, Senior Director of Midway Operations at Dave and Buster’s, and Kevin Williams of Spider Entertainment, who has advised Merlin Entertainment on their rollout of Immersive Gamebox. We will dive into the economics and strategies operators need to understand in their evaluation of this new growing product category.

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We will also be talking about the challenges of creating games for these new platforms. With any new gaming platform, it takes a few iterations to get the game mechanics dialed in. VR is still trying to figure this out with combinations of controllers, hand tracking, and haptics.  In my experience with Immersive Gamebox, they seemed to be emphasizing physical movement over usability, forcing people to move forward and backward to control a character that’s moving up and down. Which was counter intuitive and frustrating.

Keep an eye on your mailbox for the next edition of Replay Magazine. If you don’t get it, you can subscribe here