AR and VR in entertainment is expected to reach US$ 45-20 billion by 2027. Dedicated to creating immense value in the regional Leisure & Attractions industry, MENALAC shares the views of global attractions heavyweights on the future of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in entertainment.
13 December 2021, Dubai – Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have risen to the fore, especially in the dawn of the new normal.
The sustained success of AR and VR is hotly debated by several industries, including the Leisure & Attractions industry. But before the future of these technologies can be forecasted, it’s important to understand what they are.
Augmented Reality (AR) is the concept of enhancing the world around you using audio and digital imagery in real-time. Virtual Reality (VR) – on the other hand – doesn’t enhance the world around you, it simulates one for you. Both technologies have a “transportative” nature, either enhancing a user’s current reality or whisking them away to a new one. They also engage users, a much-needed quality in the modern world’s attention economy. The novel experience they offer helps keep users both interested and deeply engaged.
According to Analytics Insight, AR and VR in entertainment and media were worth US$5.12 billion by 2019 and are projected to reach a CAGR of 31.8% by 2027 to US$45.20 billion. The entertainment industry consists of various subsets such as the film industry, the live events industry, sports, gaming, theme parks/ amusement parks. Each of these subsets could find different ways to integrate augmented and virtual reality.
THE ATTRACTIONS INDUSTRY AND AR & VR
The Leisure & Attractions industry is just one of several industries that are adopting these technologies. AR and VR are making their way into the arenas of education, healthcare, transport, and retail among others. The secret to what makes these technologies so popular has a lot to do with people.
Creating a “reimagined” reality
Following the pandemic, the entertainment economy has re-opened. After 18 months of playing video games and interacting online at home, consumers now have incredibly steep demands. And the Leisure & Attractions industry is in an equally demanding position to satisfy this appetite for novelty.
When asked about the growing market for AR & VR, Frontgrid – a global provider of innovative adventure experiences for leisure and entertainment operators – mentioned a bridge between our current reality and a virtual one.
Matt Wells, CEO of Frontgrid, said: “People want to get back out and socialise with their friends, but the group gaming experience has to be considerably better and more interactive than anything they can do on a console at home. The most successful operators are realising this – they know they can’t rely on the same old attractions and expect to stand out”.
He continued: “The recent announcement by Facebook has further fuelled interest in multiplayer immersive experiences even further, with 2.62 million searches for the term Metaverse recorded in October 2021.
Cutting-edge immersive attractions should be part of the mix for any entertainment centre seeking to compete and attract guests”.
What does a successful AR & VR attraction look like?
With any new technology, there are a handful of key factors that operators must perfect if they want to succeed and sustain their product:
– Ease of use
Timely adopters of AR and VR are already reaping positive results.
And one of them is Simworx, one of the world’s leaders in the supply of media-based attractions to theme parks and visitor attractions.
Claire Monkton, Sales & Marketing Co-ordinator at Simworx, said: “Our VR attractions remain incredibly popular, with hundreds of VR experiences installed throughout the world. We are continuing to develop new and exciting VR products, and our newest VR product – Alpine Racer VR – combines a unique motion element with VR to provide riders with an interactive experience of speeding downhill on a skimobile with competitive gameplay elements. With regards to our most popular attraction, this is probably our Immersive Tunnel, which was quite a game-changer for Simworx when we first introduced it. It’s a Universal Studios standard attraction but at a price point accessible to mainstream theme parks”.
Gazing into the future of AR & VR
With their influence across several industries, AR and VR are here to stay.
Embracing these technologies, and executing them correctly, could lead to lucrative opportunities for Leisure & Attractions operators. This will not only revive their strategy but also give them a competitive edge in the near future.
When asked about what the next decade holds for AR and VR, Jonathan Nowak Delgado, the Co-Founder & Managing Director of SPREE Interactive, said: “We at SPREE Interactive believe that new technology platforms like AR and VR will level up the gaming experience to a whole new level. The VR and immersive entertainment industry has evolved quite dramatically.
Some of the main drivers are decreasing hardware cost, more powerful mobile chipsets, rendering mobile capabilities, and innovative ideas from the creatives. The deep underlying human desire to share great experiences with others will stay the same, if not increase after the lockdowns”.
He continues: “When innovating for the millennial generation, you’ll very quickly observe the new behaviour patterns: experience over ownership. It needs to be shareable on social media. These trends are exactly what, at SPREE Interactive, are guiding our product development.
The technology of virtual reality is rapidly changing traditional entertainment and it’s opening a new unimaginable world of possibilities. Our VR Bumper Car attraction, licensed by VR Coaster, is one example of how VR can revive a classic attraction for the modern era and create a totally renewed experience”.
SPREE Interactive is a pioneer in delivering turn-key large-scale, multiplayer, free-roaming commercial VR attractions for the LBE industry.
Stuart Wood, International Sales Manager of BANDAI NAMCO Amusement Europe Limited, said: “Technology continues to evolve, with headset-mounted leap motion sensors replacing physical hand-strapped trackers to further lighten external baggage that weighs a player to their reality.
VR has a long-drawn past filled with both shortcomings and strength, but we’ve reached an era where its discoveries and advancements are snowballing far more rapidly, and its action-packed future is infinite”.
BANDAI NAMCO Amusement Europe Limited is a coin-operated amusement machine distribution company serving the EMEA region.
What should businesses looking to adopt AR & VR be mindful of?
Frederic Fitoussi, Managing Director, Palais Royal Technology said: “Businesses looking to VR should focus on providing a customer journey and experience starting from when you enter your VR area – VR on its own is not all. It is only one part of the experience”.
He continued: “The VR experience should combine a customer journey and a social environment for players and non-players, starting from customer services and interior design to side offerings to fit customer demands. VR licensed games and experiences selections are key.
They should fulfil the operator’s need for entertainment value for the guests and capacity, while balancing your investment required. To succeed in VR, you will need to combine all those elements with a turn-key solution to provide the perfect experience to your customers”.
All the Leisure & Attractions professionals quoted in this press release are MENALAC members. MENALAC is dedicated to being a credible resource for industry data and statistics among other objectives.
For more information, please visit www.menalac.org
About MENALAC: Established in 2014, the Middle East and North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council (MENALAC) is a not-for-profit platform representing the Leisure, Entertainment and Attractions industry in the Middle East and North Africa.
With over 470 operations and 200 brands from 22 countries in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region including Pakistan and Afghanistan, MENALAC offers great benefits to the industry as a platform for stakeholders to interact and stay informed. It has been set up under the aegis of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and the Dubai Association Centre in 2016 when leading companies within the region’s entertainment industry, including Theme Parks, Visitor Attractions, Water Parks and Family Entertainment Centres companies joined forces to form a council to support the growth and development of the industry.
The Council was established as a platform to promote safe operations, regional development, professional growth and commercial success of the amusement industry and to be an indispensable resource for the Council’s members and an international authority for the attraction industry.
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