By Deborah Worrell, Member of the VRARA LBE Arcades Committee
The Virtual Reality Arcade Conference took place last weekend at the Samsung Research Center in Mountain View, CA. The conference brought together companies specializing in VR hardware, software and distribution; VR content studios and publishers; VR research; and experts in funding and financing for VR LBE.
The recurring theme from presenters and exhibitors was one of consultation, cooperation, education and support. Daisy Berns, General Manager of Exit Reality, summed up the spirit of the conference, saying, ‘Virtual Reality is an extremely new industry and it is important for all of us to work together to elevate the entire location-based sector and be mindful that we will be introducing VR experiences to the masses’.
Panels focused on best practices and speakers shared insights based on their own successful models with the audience of arcade owners and interested attendees. Along with seasoned VR location owners a significant number of individuals came to learn about VR LBE and how they can become VR entrepreneurs themselves.
One particularly memorable panel (Jan Goetgeluk, CEO of Virtuix, Brad Scoggin, CEO of SpringboardVR, Shauna Heller, NA President of AiSolve, McKay Christensen, CEO of VR Junkies and Daisy Berns, GM of Exit Reality) had a spirited back and forth about end-user pricing, revenue projections, minimum number of stations and thoughts about keeping high-end VR experiences at an affordable price point. Listeners learned a lot about VR business models, planning for success and the importance of exceptional customer service. The speakers were unanimous in extolling the benefits of marketing services and cautioned the audience against relying on foot traffic.
Attendees and exhibitors had a great time demoing all the new hardware at the conference. Lines were long to try the new omni-directional treadmill from Avatar=VR and the Omni total immersion body rig. Tactical Haptics showed off new gun-like controllers and everyone enjoyed playing Rocket VR’s games. Exit Reality brought a Cube—their complete B2B solution for VR content, distribution and customer service.
Virtual World Arcade showcased a large free roam arena VR set-up and Jeremy Lam, CEO of Virtual World Arcade, delivered Saturday’s keynote on VR Content Development and Mobile Events as well as Sunday’s talk on How to Prevent Motion Sickness in VR Arcades and Games.
The conference drew to a close on Sunday afternoon with an important panel on financing and funding for VR start-ups. In the cooperative and consultative spirit of the program the audience heard experts from the venture capital world (Angelo Del Priore, HP Tech Ventures, Ken Sobajima, KDDI Open Innovation Fund, and Ryan Wang, Outpost Capital) offer best practices, insights and examples.
Overall the event was a huge success—the panels and speakers were insightful and practical, the demos were fun and illustrated where the industry is headed, and the opportunity to network and build partnerships with VR professionals was outstanding. Mark your calendars for Virtual Arcade World Conference next year.
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