If you were old enough in the ’90s, you probably recall the countless cyber cafes that popped up in cities and towns. These were cafes that offered a superior internet experience at a time when many people still weren’t online at home.
Cyber cafes (also called Internet Cafes) helped with the mass adoption of the internet. It also helped bring in more income for cafes to offer computers with internet to costumers at the tables. These cafes provided many people with their first experience of the world wide web.
However, despite their pivotal role in attracting regular people to a nerd’s hobby, they’re not really around anymore. Starbucks provides WiFi, but assumes you’ll bring in your own laptop and phone to access it. Nowadays your internet at home could very well be faster than at an internet cafe.
The same thing is happening now with Location-Based Entertainment Virtual Reality (LBE VR). With LBE VR, costumers are offered a unique experience where they’re given more space and opportunity in the VR world. You can explore a haunted mansion in VR while standing in a safe, foam filled room. LBE VR can be multi-sensory, meaning that the place can offer haptic feedback such as wind, heat or vibrations to make the VR experience more authentic.
People likely go as a group, inviting people who wouldn’t have VR on their mind, and are more likely to spend more money at a VR attraction when it’s a day event with friends. And just like with the internet cafes, people who weren’t ready to purchase a headset for their home can now get their first VR experience.
Staff in LBE VR is important too. The staff are knowledgable about the products at their attraction, and can explain it to newcomers.
But LBE VR might not last forever. With internet cafes one big reason for their decline was expense. Even though having internet in your cafe was an attraction that brought in more income, it also cost more money to maintain. Rent and superior internet connection. were not cheap. Rent, the multi-sensory tools, and more factor into the cost of LBE VR.
Plus, eventually VR not tethered to a particular spot could someday offer all the multi-sensory benefits that today’s LBE VR offers. When this happens people are less likely to turn to LBE VR. People occasionally visit arcades with friends, but it’s very rare in comparison to people playing on someone’s device at home or on the go (like the Nintendo Switch).
Despite their possible future irrelevance, they still play a role in normalizing the industry.