I have fond memories of spending hours upon hours in local arcades in the heart of Manhattan back in the 80s and 90s, sinking endless quarters into games like Street Fighter (yes the original!), Mortal Kombat and Smash TV.
Where I grew up in NYC, there were 5 or 6 arcades within a 10-block radius. That’s where all the kids hung out after school and often during school. Two words: truant officer. Then at some point home consoles started really upping their game (pun intended). Suddenly arcades starting suffering the same fate movie theaters are experiencing now – there was no reason to go out if you could get an equal or better experience at home.
But now with the revolution of VR, there’s hope for the future of the unique arcade experience. HTC is planning to roll out its Viveport Arcade program with the intention of making arcade VR gaming a $100 million industry.
Viveport Arcade is simply the platform by which titles can be licensed to be played in public spaces. Think movie theaters, cafes and of course, as the title suggests, arcades.
At the VR Developers Conference, HTC announced their plan to place The Brookhaven Experiment and Everest VR in arcades. Numerous titles are expected to follow.
While the main focus has been on China and Taiwan, HTC plans to expand this program into the U.S. and Europe by the end of the year, as reported by The Verge.
Currently any real robust system like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive is expensive and requires some serious PC power to run it. VR arcades offer an easy solution to this problem for the average consumer/gamer. A simple pay and play option may be more enticing to some.
It’s also hard to ignore the potential social boost this can give a community. Arcades back in the day represented a place where kids could congregate and show off their skills. It forced you to meet new people and interact. It sure beats plugging in and tuning out at home.
What do you think of the idea of VR arcades? I for one am stoked but let me know what you think in the comments below.