Let's face it, kids. The arcade is mostly a dead prospect these days. Oh, sure, there are still examples of the concept around; every so often you'll find a place still devoted to keeping the old machines alive, or even a handful of new ones still coming out. I just saw an absolutely spectacular Aliens: Armageddon shooting game where the controller was a reasonably close replica of a M41A pulse rifle. But for the most part, arcades are either dead or relics of a forgotten era. Still, there are some stirrings out there that say that people may not be taking the death of the arcade lying down, and the VRcade is the newest such stirring.
VRcade is part of what's being called an entire movement geared toward reviving virtual reality. The difference, though is that VR cade isn't looking to the home for that revival—as seems to be the case with the Oculus Rift
and the Virtuix Omni treadmill—but rather, to centralized destinations that people travel to to engage in virtual reality gaming on magnificent scales in a specific, particular environment. VRcade is said to believe that, with this method, it can deliver a kind of “perfect VR” without the trade-offs that so often have to be ordinarily.
But that kind of perfect VR, as it's described, won't be easy...or cheap. The proposed VRcade as it's known could cost as much as a million dollars outright, complete with software, motion-capture cameras, accompanying props and that retail space which may require as much as 12,000 square feet in order to adequately operate. But it's likewise set to work with a camera system that would provide amazing freedom of movement, working with infrared light and markers on headsets and prop guns and the like.
Further working in VRcade's favor is that the Unity 3D
game engine can be adapted to VRcade's systems within a matter of minutes, according to reports, helping to ensure that there's a steady stream of new games in play.
Now, of course, there's the idea that this could work. After all, gamers occasionally crave a little social interaction too, so the thought of a central destination for games isn't out of line. We've seen the idea of the barcade also gain some ground, so too the e-sports
bar. But these offer more than one point of value. Barcades have drinks. E-sports bars offer drinks as well as the ability to watch e-sports in action. A VRcade is just VR. Even home-based VR systems like the Oculus Rift have great potential to be used with movies and the like, giving them a dual purpose as well.
Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely stunned by the potential the VRcade poses, but I find myself wondering if it's possible to succeed without having the added value that a barcade, e-sports bar or the like can offer. Of course, a VRcade can add a few extras—with 12,000 square feet, it's hard not to—but it may not be able to get along without the added value. Naturally, only time will tell if the VRcade can take off. It's certainly got the “wow factor” on its side, so there's every possibility that this could work. I look forward to seeing when these will reach our towns, and just what towns these reach.