Virtual reality returns to local malls when COVID restrictions are removed

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

Sandbox VR

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Steve Jao’s business was promising until last year. Your company, Sandbox VRThe number of Commercial spaceAnd people came to shoot zombies, cross swords with treasure-hunting pirates, and explore distant planets as members of the Star Trek crew. They do this by gathering in groups of up to 6 people in a room of 600 square meters. So they carry a virtual reality headset, backpack attached A series of sensors on their hands and feet.

The · Coronavirus Of course, he changed everything and the client quarantined him, effectively closing 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 recovers and all vaccines hit people’s arms.

Sandbox VR attracts you to the virtual reality of the whole body 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 to deregulate, its 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 going to make a profit next year.

“I think this platform is what people want. It’s an immersive, sociable, full-body experience, ”said Zhao, 38, who started playing games in college. “We try to create an experience in which you can establish meaningful relationships with your friends.”

Zhao’s Business Bump is the latest in a series of anecdotal evidence indicating that the video game industry, especially virtual reality, may be promising for the new economic reopening. For the past year and a half, many of them have been in lockdown mode. He came to video games As a means of escape and entertainment. According to a survey by market research firm IDC, it was more dedicated to gaming and spent about 40% more money, which was spent more on smartphones and tablet games than before the pandemic. . reduce their gambling habits as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.

It seems like people are looking for other entertainment besides games. High octane action film Wild speed 9 That first weekend, we competed for over $ 70 million in ticket sales. The best individual film since December 2019 (Global box office revenues continue to fall before the pandemic). Larger economies are also showing positive signs, job recovery and rapid increase in retail sales.

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

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

“Social outing ideas with friends, similar to paintball or something else, can be exciting,” Ward said. But in the long run, it is the repeaters that make the difference. “It has to be distinctive enough for people to come back.”

Rich DeMuro, a Los Angeles-based KTLA TV reporter, recently tested Sandbox VR. Deadwood Mansion, this will make your group fight hordes of zombies. “I quickly forgot that I am in the mall room,” he said in a report released on July 4th. When he grabbed the VR headset 25 minutes later with the digital dead down, he said the experience was “Very intense.”

Gear includes a backpack computer to power the headphones.

Scott Stein / CNET

Survival of virtual reality

Sandbox VR Apply for $ 754,000 or more The U.S. Wage Protection Program during the pandemic era closed loans last year, primarily to pay staff salaries. The company has also begun coding contract work for other game makers to help pay bills. Zhao said he started trying to franchise the business in collaboration with the owner, although he eventually filed for bankruptcy, about 80 percent of the staff of about 100 people were temporarily laid off and were reduced. the salaries of other people. company Apply for an additional $ 241,000 with PPP loan in March of this year, to recoup the salary.

Sandbox VR-299-49096746503-o

The range 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 headphones that someone else is wearing 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 independently.

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 guests to feel that this was a safe space,” Zhao said.

He also wants to expand the variety of experiences Sandbox VR offers. There are currently five. Horror survival game to a future future sword fighting game .. But you are also interested in creating games that allow customers to use magic to become wizards and experience things like monsters with multiple arms. · It needs developmentHe said, “some time will pass.”

Meanwhile, he hopes people will continue to look for new types of entertainment as they get used to coming back to life outside of quarantine. And he thinks it’s important to provide an experience like him in small groups.

“We don’t advertise ourselves as VR,” Zhao said. “We’re taking people to a different world.”

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