Creating Content for Out-of-Home VR
For many consumers, the out of home VR market will be their first experience of VR. As part of a recent talk at VRX Europe our VP of Development, Tom Gillo, looked at the emerging market and what we learnt from developing our first VR arcade title. Here he goes over the key takeaways from the talk (there’s a whole host of other information we couldn’t fit in!)...
The Out of Home Market
It’s still early days for out of home VR and as such, it is quite nebulous and fragmented. There are a range of different arcade setups available with everything from free-roam experiences such as The Void and Zero Latency, to more traditional arcades using the likes of Springboard VR or Viveport, plus the turn key solutions found in Hologate and Chaos Jump to name a few.
Compared to VR gaming at home, the arcade experience is more accessible, immediate and without the costs and hassles of a high-end home setup. It is also primarily a shared and social activity as opposed to a solo player experience, meaning the out of home audience has much broader in demographic than typical home VR consumers.
VR Arcades are attracting children’s parties, families, couples on date nights and students, and encouragingly they are also attracting more female participation. They are being seen as event destination spaces, somewhere to visit as a one-off event, an occasional treat or as a social meet up with many people coming for their very first taste of VR….
There’s a range of estimates about the future value of the out of home VR arcade market but all suggest massive growth potential over the next 24 months, making it a great opportunity for developers.
Why Shooty Fruity?
So, how (and why) did we go about redesigning Shooty Fruity, a four to five-hour VR game for the home market, to fit the needs of the arcade audiences and their operators?
The game was already a critically acclaimed hit and it soon became apparent how the core elements of the game could potentially map very well to an arcade title:
- Very simple controls and intuitive player actions
- An engaging, accessible and immediate premise
- High production value graphics that are family friendly
Shooty Fruity also delivered on must-have VR qualities such as high agency roleplay, strong player embodiment and great fictional teleportation.
That said, it was clear that some areas needed to be redesigned and refined for VR arcade environments and audiences… Wanting to ensure we did the best possible job, we reached out to all the main arcade operators and platform holders to find out what they and their needed from an arcade game.
And this is what we learnt…
There are three key elements that we redesigned for Shooty Fruity Arcade to make it a true arcade title, onboarding, session length and retention mechanics.
Arcade games need simple, frictionless ‘onboarding’ for new and returning players. Consumers and operators want to get into the game quickly and easily. We redesigned the opening section with simple instructions that meant onboarding took less than 30 seconds and put the focus on the most important things – how to do the tasks, how to shoot and what the objective is in the game. We also implemented an auto-calibration feature, that sets the height of the gun rail and task counter…
In an arcade context an entire game session needs to be complete in around 10 minutes. By automating the weapon loadout and redeveloping the arcade version to have three, three-minute levels, we created a game experience that fit this session length.
As far as we know, we were the first home-to-VR arcade translation to develop a specific branching arcade progression, where player’s success dictates their progress through the game, either placing them in increasingly challenging or simpler levels depending on their performance. We also implemented simple leader boards to encourage competitive replay and retention.
Making these changes also helped negate, or greatly reduce, the requirement for an arcade attendee to have to help with the set up and running of the game. This is a key point when looking at how arcades are run, we’re not just designing for the arcade players but also the arcade attendants and owners as well – the economics are very different.
Some concluding thoughts
When looking at potential out of home VR content, consider carefully what is appropriate… If you’re looking to put an existing title into arcades, consider how well it will translate across to the format. The premise must be compelling and have wide appeal; the VR gameplay should be accessible, intuitive and enjoyable in short bursts, but still offer the opportunity for deep VR engagement and enjoyment. Speak to arcade operators, get the game in front of them and ask questions, but be open to feedback and iteration. And, something I think is very important - keep one eye on the future. A golden age in VR arcades lies just ahead!