10 Million Players Strong…& Counting
Hologate Hits Major Milestone & Continues VR Innovation
by Matt Harding
From a startup company in 2017 to one of the world’s biggest names in location-based VR by 2021, Hologate continues exceeding all of its founder’s initial expectations. This year, they’ve hit the major milestone of 10 million players and there are no signs of slowing down.
“It’s fantastic – we never thought that the company and the system would go this big this quickly,” said founder and CEO Leif Petersen. “We brought Hologate Arena to market in 2017 and started pretty slow, then took off with a huge bang. We’re very happy it got to this scale.”
That the 10 million player milestone happened during the Covid-19 pandemic makes it all the more astounding.
“It represents the encouraging bounce back of our company,” said Gregg Katano, Hologate’s senior vice president of U.S. operations. “Through the resilience of our entire team and our ability to continue to innovate, we found ourselves emerging from the storm, and in the summer of 2021, we saw peak numbers at 450,000 players per month.”
That number represented the company’s all-time highest recorded number of player activity across the hundreds of partner venues in 36 countries.
On an industry-wide scale, Katano said it represents the bounce back of the entire LBE sector. “People were more than ready to get out of their homes and back to entertainment venues,” he said. “There was a conscientious effort by the venues to create a safe environment through health and safety protocols as they received guests once again. This instilled confidence in customers and they showed their appreciation by coming back in droves.”
The road to get them here started with the Hologate Arena in 2017, which the company boasts was the first compact, multiplayer VR system to be introduced to the market. “Through a combination of adept German engineering, an unwavering commitment to innovation and experiences that were mind-blowing, addictively fun and appealed to every type of player, it brought amazing ROI to operators around the world,” Katano said.
They followed it with their 2019 creation Hologate Blitz, a single-player VR motion simulator. Katano explained that the “futuristic craft” allows players to “explore fantastical worlds across land, sky, sea, space or other dimensions.”
And as the company continues its role as one of the major players in the out-of-home VR world, it’s possible that neither the Arena nor Blitz…or Hologate for that matter…would exist had Leif Petersen not played VR for the first time back in 1993. It was that experience, he told RePlay, that influenced him to want to work in the field.
He noted, “The technology for VR wasn’t that great until 2016 and we saw this great chance to build something that could be big –– or even bigger –– than virtual reality in the ’90s,” he noted. “We thought the Arena would be a great product a lot of people around the world would like – from a player and operator perspective.”
They were certainly right, and the success of Hologate’s Arena and Blitz has put them in a position for even greater achievement. But also important to that future is how the company reacted to the pandemic.
“Throughout the crisis we didn’t downscale the company,” said Peterson, who added that the company’s 50-person team is invested in and dedicated to delivering exceptional VR experiences. “We believed it would kick back eventually.”
Hitting the 10 million player milestone proves that, they assert, and so do the company’s plans for the future. Earlier this year, RePlay reported that they were starting Hologate World, which they say will be the largest extended reality (XR) entertainment space in Germany.
Located in Fürth, the roughly 13,000-sq.-ft. venue, complete with a bar and lounge with food service as well as indoor and outdoor gathering areas, will feature Hologate’s virtual reality systems, as well as XR escape rooms and a competitive esports arena. Among the VR lineup will be the company’s latest, the brand-new Hologate X and futuristic Hyper Golf experiences.
Hologate X is a next-gen, free-roam VR adventure platform (find full details at www.hologate.com/xpect-xceptional). It features what they call Hologate Xperience Reality (HXR), a proprietary hyper-reality technology that Katano says “integrates a perfect blending of the latest in high-end, next-level virtual reality, full-body tracking and 4D physical effects inside of a high-fidelity immersive and social experience.”
It streams “high-resolution cinematic virtual reality worlds directly into the headsets,” he said, allowing players to freely explore the expansive gameplay space without being weighed down by the traditional, heavy backpack.
“Not only does this reduce the significant overall costs that inherently come with typical free-roam VR systems for the minimum two sets of backpacks for every player,” Katano said, “but by eliminating the need to swap out backpacks when the battery runs low, this also significantly increases the revenue due to the continuous player throughput.”
The company’s other new experience, Hyper Golf, is what they describe as “an exciting and unprecedented fusion of miniature golf and next-level gamified social experience.”
Hyper Golf holes are modular and designed with their own unique theme, which make up a customizable course. Each one of the nine holes has digital scoring and sensors in each ball to track how many times the ball has been played, automatically tallying each player’s score.
The game is played on a unique geometric layout populated with bumpers and challenging obstacles that is further enhanced by activated animations, movement of physical props, sound and lighting effects and music tracks. Each Hyper Golf ball is equipped with LED lights that assign an individual color to each player and emit reactive lighting signals during gameplay.
Both Hyper Golf and Hologate X will debut at Hologate World later this year and will be available to customers worldwide shortly after.
Stay up to date with all of Hologate’s products and happenings by visiting www.hologate.com.