Amusement Products & Arkadia VR Arena
Rebranded Inowize Platform Gets the AP Seal of Approval
After more than three years of research, Amusement Products found its entry into virtual reality with Inowize’s new Arkadia VR Arena (formerly called VR Quest Arena). The companies struck up a partnership just ahead of IAAPA Expo 2019 that makes Amusement Products Arkadia’s North American distributor.
Inowize initially approached Amusement Products at a trade show, reported AP’s president Dutch Magrath. The company was showing a “graphically beautiful maze game,” he said, but the free-roam VR platform was made for just one player in a sizable footprint. Inowize went back to the drawing board and came up with small-footprint, 4- and 6-player systems (roughly measuring 15 ft. x 15 ft. x 9 ft. and 15 ft. x 20 ft. x 9 ft., respectively).
“I was surprised to see such a huge change by a company,” Magrath said. “They did it very well.”
He explained that there are a few things Amusement Products looks for when working with partners, and Inowize’s Arkadia had it all. First and foremost, it has to be quality. “We’ve got to supply the product for a long time,” Magrath said. “A lot of stuff we deal with in the FEC market are 5- to 10-year products.”
He noted that while the shelf-life on some arcade equipment won’t be quite that long, Amusement Products is still focused on durability and longevity. It’s a key component in a big part of their business – go-karts and bumper cars.
The finished product also has to minimize the need for labor to maximize profits for FEC owners. “We’re very conscious of return on investment,” Magrath said. This 6-player system, with its small footprint, does just that.
“Inowize also created player vs. player games,” he added. “We’ve seen that be a big advantage for repetitive play, and that was interesting to us. Everyone wants to show they’re better than their buddy.”
Currently, Arkadia has four games incorporating shooting, racing and flying. The latest, Wing Run, came out earlier this year. The others are Sea Bandits, Raverz and Atek – designed to be fun for friends of all ages.
Through the partnership, Inowize is responsible for the design and creation of the game content and the system itself, and Amusement Products is responsible for the “cabinet,” to use coin-op terms, fabricating the platform, putting it together and installing it on location.
There are about a dozen U.S. locations at the moment; all new installs moving forward will be with the rebranded Arkadia name.
The move into VR for Amusement Products represents the company continuing its mission of providing the widest possible services for the FEC and greater amusement industry. Magrath explained that with a great VR product, that’s where the London-based Inowize came in. Their managing director and co-founder, Claudia Mihalache, said the simple goal with the Arkadia platform is to make things fun.
“Yes, we have tournament options available and we encourage esports competitions, but we want to make them amusing as well,” she said. “In an entertainment center, it’s much more fun playing against your buddies, family and coworkers than shooting some random computer-generated enemies. Although we promote the competitive side, our games manage to retain a lighthearted vibe.”
She added: “Virtual reality is no longer a new attraction. It has a proven track record and it’s here to stay. This means that expectations will grow, needs will be more specific and the VR niche will become more sophisticated.”
Arkadia officially debuted with its rebranded name at last month’s Amusement Expo. Learn more about the product at www.amusementproducts.com/vr-arenas.