Mixed Reality is the future of family entertainment centers

Written by
Ulla Järvinen
May 7, 2024
# min read
Family of all ages playing ValoArena, mixed reality arena for family entertainment centers

As operators of family entertainment centers (FECs), amusement parks, or active indoor entertainment venues, you are always strategizing on how to expand your business. 

There are only a few ways that you can boost your revenue: by expanding your target audience, increasing the frequency of repeat visits, or creating savings in operational costs. But how to achieve this? 

Enter Mixed Reality (MR) attraction: ValoArena. 

While many FECs have experimented with virtual reality (VR) to enhance their attraction lineup, Mixed Reality might just be the game-changer your venue needs. Mixed Reality playground ValoArena not only promises to keep the venue fresh and engaging, but it also offers a versatile appeal that can widen your visitor demographics, encourage guests to return, and is cost-effective to operate.

In the following sections, we look into why Mixed Reality, as opposed to VR, is becoming the preferred choice for future-focused FECs looking to not just survive but thrive in today's competitive entertainment landscape.

What is Mixed Reality? Difference between VR, MR, and AR explained

Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Augmented Reality (AR) represent immersive technologies that blend digital elements with the physical world. Each offers a unique way to engage and interact with enhanced or entirely new environments.

Virtual Reality (VR) completely immerses users in a digital environment, detached from the physical world. Users typically wear headsets like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which transport them to entirely virtual settings.  

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital information onto the real world, enhancing but not replacing the user's real environment. Mobile games like Pokémon Go allow users to interact with digital elements superimposed on their surroundings.

DID YOU KNOW: Valo Motion’s ValoClimb is the world’s first augmented reality climbing wall?!

Mixed Reality (MR) combines elements of both VR and AR, anchoring virtual objects to the real world and allowing users to interact with these objects. 

  • Valo Motion’s ValoArena, a free-roam MR immersive playground for 6 players, encourages physical activity, teamwork, and social interaction, making it a perfect fit for venues aiming to offer inclusive, innovative, and unforgettable experiences. Unlike traditional VR setups that isolate players, ValoArena creates a shared, interactive space where players engage with both the physical and digital worlds simultaneously without any gear or headsets.
 Children immersed in mixed reality gameplay of ValoArena on one side, while two kids climb an augmented climbing wall on the other, enjoying interactive gaming experiences.

Past the VR hype in location-based entertainment

While Virtual Reality (VR) offers immersive and captivating experiences it comes with a set of unique challenges that operators must navigate.

#1 Total cost of ownership 

VR systems, particularly those offering high-quality experiences, require substantial investment not only in the hardware but also in maintenance. VR headsets and the associated equipment are expensive and need to be cleaned adding to the operational complexities and costs. Moreover, these devices can require regular updates and potentially expensive repairs, further increasing the total cost of ownership.

#2 Operational overheads

Beyond the initial investment, VR attractions demand a considerable amount of operational attention. Staff need to be trained to assist guests with the equipment, manage scheduling to avoid long wait times, and handle maintenance issues. Additionally, since headsets can be cumbersome and require adjustment, there's a significant demand on personnel time to ensure each guest has a seamless and hygienic experience.

#3 Cybersickness and accessibility

One of the significant issues with VR is cybersickness, a form of motion sickness that can occur when the brain receives conflicting signals about movement and position in a virtual environment. This issue can be particularly pronounced in VR setups, affecting a notable portion of users, especially women, and young children, and potentially limiting the audience scope for VR attractions.

For you as an LBE operator, if your guests are very sensitive to cybersickness (especially women and young children), it means they may have an overall bad experience at your venue. In the worst cases, they might leave the premises and not even try other non-VR attractions. 

A study by Iowa State University revealed that women ended their VR game sessions early, twice as often as men, and their sickness intensity was 40% higher!

Regarding accessibility, VR attractions, although innovative, come with complicated setups requiring many movingparts like headsets, controllers, and wires to be in place before the player even starts playing. While this futuristic hardware might appeal to teenage boys and young men, if your location caters to families with parents and young children, it could be too complicated and risky for little children and their parents (your customers). This added barrier can very well result in less dwell time at your venue.

#4 Engagement versus investment

While VR attractions can be a draw for the venue, the misconception that they will automatically lead to increased foot traffic and engagement can be misleading. The reality is that the success of VR attractions depends on various factors, including the quality of the experience, the target audience, and how well the attraction is integrated into the broader venue offerings. Moreover, the isolation inherent in many VR experiences can detract from the social, shared experiences that many guests seek when visiting entertainment venues.

Maximizing revenue in FECs: ValoArena's MR technology is the key

As stated in the first chapter, achieving business success in location-based entertainment is fundamentally about expanding your target audience, increasing repeat visits, and optimizing operational efficiency

Modern consumers seek unique experiences that they can't simply have at home and also value experiences that foster social interaction and connectivity. Unlike the isolating nature of home-based entertainment options, LBE venues that promote shared experiences, teamwork, and competition in a real-world setting create lasting memories and drive social sharing, further amplifying their appeal.

 Father and sons playing Groundfall, the floor is lava game in ValoArena.

ValoArena: A strategic investment in MR

ValoArena is a strategic investment in the future of your FEC. It seamlessly integrates physical and digital play, eliminating the barriers posed by VR. Its inclusive design and games welcome participants of all ages and demographics. Up to 6 players can play together in the Mixed Reality playground: friends can compete against each other and it is perfect for families to play together.

In an era where social interaction is a valued commodity, ValoArena fosters connections through cooperative and competitive play. This not only enhances the guest experience but also leverages word-of-mouth promotion as visitors share their unique experiences with others. Players can also download and share their gameplay videos in their social media channels which further enhances your brand’s visibility.

A kid jumping with her mom, happily playing the Runway Zero game in ValoArena.

Without the need for headsets or gear and with automatic operations, ValoArena ensures you save on operational expenses while delivering high-quality entertainment. It is easy for guests to just step in and play and above all, easy to operate. Regular new game updates and new game releases also keep the attraction fresh and up to date with current trends.

ValoArena was also recognized at the IAAPA Expo 2022 with a Brass Ring Award for Best New Product in the “Virtual and Augmented Reality” category.

Success stories from various venues underscore ValoArena’s ability to draw crowds:

“‍ValoArena is now our top attraction. It’s destroying our other VR experiences and is doing far better than even a number of top-tier arcade machines would do in the same space. ”

 Chris Kimlingen, Operations Manage, RPM Raceway, USA.

Read more about ValoArena here

In conclusion, embracing Mixed Reality technology with ValoArena is a forward-thinking strategy for any FEC or active indoor entertainment venue looking to enhance its appeal, improve operational efficiency, and secure a profitable future. It's time to move beyond the hype and invest in a solution that delivers tangible results.

Explore the possibilities with ValoArena and see how mixed reality can transform your venue into a cutting-edge entertainment destination.

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