Laser-Focused on Fun!
Improvements in Tech, Games & More Highlight Laser Tag Maker Update
While laser tag is decades old, the sport has evolved well beyond kids huddling in corners and hugging their sensors to avoid getting tagged. Today, well-designed arenas with lighting effects, unique theming and multiple levels combine with the multitudes of games offered and new tech in hardware and software from system manufacturers for a fun, immersive, physically active experience for players of all ages and types. Best of all for amusement operators, you can’t play “real” laser tag at home!
The following is a roundup of nine of the major system manufacturers covering what’s new with their hardware and software and how they weathered the Covid storm. The majority will be exhibiting at Amusement Expo so if you’re attending, learn more in person.
Brian Sytkowski, Director of Sales
Kaylind Varichak, Support & Services Manager
Clayton Seymore, Customer Support Coordinator
Battle Company officially launched in 2012 and is headquartered in Milwaukee. Their customers stretch across all 50 states and into over 40 countries around the world. They say their equipment can be used just about anywhere – from FECs and amusement parks to outdoor battlefields or mobile – and is “made for businesses both big and small.”
What’s New? Said sales director Brian Sytkowski, “Our EDGE software is ahead of its time with exclusive features and built-in game modes you won’t find anywhere else. Battle Company software lets your gameplay pull from the latest trends in video games. From advanced game customization, Streak and Leaderboards to Battle Coins, player rewards, messaging and our integrated CallSign app, EDGE sets the bar for software in laser tag.”
He said Battle Company operators were excited about the release of their newest wireless headset, version 4.0, earlier this year. “These headsets come with a ratcheting clip that’s easy to adjust for that perfect fit. They are lightweight, comfortable, durable and made for both kids and adults.
The all-new Alternator joins the equipment armory this year, too. “With its small form-factor and lightweight design, the Alternator is our most compact unit to date,” he said. “It has a fun weapon swap feature built right into the stock. Configure the Alternator with a powerful, long-range attack when the stock is raised, then swap to a high rate-of-fire SMG for short range battles, all with the flip of the stock. The Alternator is the perfect choice for business owners who need a smaller unit that taps into the power of Battle Company software.”
Arena: “On the arena front, we’ve created the Bullseye Smart Target that creates new kinds of gameplay for laser tag and beyond. The Bullseye has sensors that can detect both laser tag shots and physical impacts. Heighten the intensity of your dart-battles with live scoring, power-up classic sports equipment with throwing-accuracy games or upgrade your laser tag battlefield with new ways for players to win.
Battle Company equipment also comes in small-scale attractions. One of their latest is the Battle Cage, a sword-fighting attraction new to their lineup that sits on less than 200 sq. ft. of space.
“Who doesn’t love a sword fight?” Sitkowski asks. “But with the Battle Cage, these are no ordinary swords.” Their “smart swords” know when a player scores a clean strike versus clashing blades with their opponent and also enable our software to score the game and decide the winner. The cage is equipped with lights, sounds, voice announcements, and scoring that are synced to the battle for an “immersive experience like no other.” Battle Cage is available as a fixed install or mobile version.
What Sets You Apart? “When operators look to Battle Company, they expect to see something new and exciting. That’s no accident,” he said, adding that being gamers themselves, they keep up with trends and have a passion for innovation and bringing new concepts to the space. A highlight is “our ability to bring gaming into reality in a way that transports players into their favorite video games. It’s the unforgettable experiences that create the highest replay value and it’s what keeps customers coming back for more. That’s what we love, that’s what we do!”
On Covid: Citing the hard hit that entertainment and hospitality businesses took in 2020, Sytkowski said the company was no different and saw an 18% decline. “The world faced so much uncertainty in early 2020 and the best path forward wasn’t clear. As a company, we decided to double-down on our strengths. We pushed hard into development and began designing new attractions and products. By the end of 2020, we released EDGE 5.0, had several new hardware designs, and grew our team.
“We buckled-down and focused on doing more with less, believing that we would come out of Covid stronger than ever. And that’s exactly what happened,” he said. “In 2021, we had our best sales year ever! Our software is better, our customer base is bigger and the investments we made in 2020 are giving us more opportunity than at any time in the past. We believe 2022 is going to be a year of getting back to business, and Battle Company will be here to help make it happen.”
Founded in 1999 with more than 580 locations across 38 U.S. states and 56 countries, Battlefield Sports offers both indoor and outdoor laser tag, as well as mobile and zombie options. They have 14 different live-action gaming themes.
What’s new: “We have a new laser tag model Cobra LITE (above) that has no cable to the head sensor,” said Nicole Lander. “This is great for transportable attractions like festivals which need fast throughput.”
What Sets You Apart? “We are the original outdoor laser tag brand. We were the first to have the real-time hit-feedback for peer-to-peer outdoor gaming. And we’ve continued to innovate. Our system ‘speaks’ in 24 languages.”
On Covid: “We are resilient. We believe that once the pandemic tsunami passes people will want to get out and have fun again,” Lander said.
Thoughts on the Future: The company’s 2022 Laser Tag Industry Report is available at www.battlefieldsports.com/blog/new-laser-tag-industry-report.
Shane Zimmerman, Sales
Geordyn Zile, Sales
Danny Hernandez, Support
Delta Strike was founded in New Zealand in 2002. Right now, they have over 230 customers in the U.S., 283 customers outside the U.S. and over 25 new sites being installed over the next few months alone. They focus on creating “the ultimate indoor laser tag experience.”
What’s new? Sales exec Shane Zimmerman enumerated their most recent advancements:
1. Their wireless charger. “The Genesis has an option to use wireless tech to ensure packs are always charging between games. It saves staff time and also has a huge impact on battery life.”
2. Their selfie camera, which socializes the Laser Tag experience. Players take a photo of themselves before the game starts and this becomes their Avatar.
3. The LCD touchscreen. “Genesis has the most prominent, highest resolution display in the laser tag industry. We’ve ensured it can take the knocks with tempered glass protection covering and is surrounded with double foam.”
4. Self-aware diagnostics: Zimmerman says the phaser can provide real-time warnings on suspected faults and also prioritize them into critical and non-critical faults to avoid game interruption unnecessarily.
5. Their star laser which incorporates two lasers, one is the red dot (classic in laser tag) which simulates the long beam. “The star laser emulates the wide-angle infrared beam when the blaster phaser is used.”
What Sets You Apart? Zimmerman points to the company’s “dedicated team that is passionate about creating the coolest playing experience through the eyes of a child. Our development team hones in on the finest details to make our products more intuitive, effortless and engaging for both the players and operators.
“Whether it be the selfie camera on our phaser for in-play brag shots or our learning management system to help our customers train more confident and engaging game marshals, if there is an opportunity for improvement, we’re pouncing on it.”
On Covid: “We were deeply invested in improving our Genesis product and trying to avoid the economic headwinds, so we came out stronger on the other side,” he continued. “We learned that we had so many improvements in the tank when fine-tuning the Genesis system and we’re still hunting for more to share with our customers.”
Thoughts on the Future: “Delta Strike is determined to lead from the front when it comes to growing the love of the game and the return on investment that goes with it,” Zimmerman said. “There have never been so many attraction offerings available to FEC operators. As a manufacturer, your product has to deliver the most engaging player experience possible to differentiate from the competition. That’s what will separate a great product from just another sales pitch. And we’re not going to become complacent on that front,” he concluded.
Ziad Dergham, COO
Brandon Mijokovic, VP of Operations
Ocie Mathenia, VP of Sales
iCOMBAT Laser Tag was founded in 2009 and has around 1,000 global accounts. They offer five product lines that covers the indoor, outdoor, fixed, tactical, traditional, non-gun and professional training markets.
What’s New? For 2022, iCombat launched the Valkyrie, a drop-in replacement for their 15-year-old Barracuda product.
What Sets You Apart? “Our five distinct product lines,” said sales VP Ocie Mathenia. “And there is no outsourcing of any kind. All products, software and support are from the U.S. Also, the company is employee-owned.”
On Covid: “We did not have to streamline the staff and applied profits toward payroll and battoned down the hatches,” Mathenia said. “We went to a work-from-home model, which we still use, and we offered our operators discounts and payment terms to help weather the storm.”
Thoughts on the Future: “We are honored to be here as an American-made product with a great team of employees who are vested in the project. Laser tag has always been able to handle the ups and downs and I am sure we will continue to do so! We have great product and software evolutions coming and we will be sharing them on all of our social media platforms as well as our web page and newsletters,” Mathenia concluded.
Mike Ewald, Sales Director
Ben Powers, Marketing Coordinator
Rashad Masad, Service Manager
LaserBlast entered the laser tag market in 1997. Over 300 locations use LaserBlast equipment within the U.S., and over 600 worldwide. Their primary market is indoor fixed installations, but they also offer a portable indoor/outdoor option for the mobile laser tag rentals.
What’s New? The recently released CyberBlast Pro system with built-in selfie-cameras, touchscreens and dual-lasers. Said Mike Ewald, sales director, “We continue to improve our industry-first wireless charging and AI Projector Opponents. We have also provided a unique briefing video for every game format to help our operators take advantage of the game variety that comes with every CyberBlast system.”
What Sets You Apart? Ewald said, “We design, manufacture and support our equipment in Detroit, Mich., which has allowed us to keep our lead times low, quality high and to continue to offer lifetime support and updates with no recurring charges. We are laser tag innovators, having introduced wireless charging, magnetic vest buckles and in-arena projection opponents to the market.”
On Covid: “The Covid shutdown was obviously a tough time,” Ewald said. “The initial full lockdown months were very difficult for everyone in the LBE industry. We had just introduced our latest model phaser at the Amusement Expo just before the shutdown.
“The uncertainty of how much we would be locked down and how long it would remain was difficult, but we believed that the LBE industry would recover quickly just as soon as the doors were allowed to open again,” he continued.
“We immediately developed a resource package to help our clients to reopen and work within the restrictions that would be in place for a while to come. We also took the opportunity to build up inventory of the brand-new model with work-from-home kits until the local rules were loosened. By summer,” Ewald said, “there was a clear split among operators based on region. Many were still in near-complete lockdown, while others were consistently setting daily revenue records. It seemed when one region would go back into lockdown, another would reopen. We stayed reasonably busy, even throughout 2020.”
Thoughts on the Future: “We feel that the laser tag industry is in a great position to continue to grow. Guests continue to be eager for in-person fun and competition with friends. We are driven by continuous improvement, and we can’t wait to share some exciting new longevity and ease-of-operations improvements later this year!”
Rohan Kelly, COO
Jeff Willy, U.S. Senior Management
Nancy Rockhill, North
American Sales Manager
Chris Epstein, Business Development Manager
Laserforce was founded by Len Kelly in 1987 in Brisbane, Australia, which they boast is now the world’s longest-running laser tag site. There are over 360 Laserforce sites all over the world and the company claims a success rate of 95%. The most common form of Laserforce is fixed indoor arena-based play. However, given the flexible technology of the Laserforce laser tag system, the company says operators can choose how best to run their sites and attractions.
What’s New? “Our latest advancement in the laser tag industry is in the running for the 2021 AMOA Innovation award,” said Business Development Manager Chris Epstein. “Laserforce has patented technology for prepaid gamecards to make paying for and playing laser tag easier and faster than ever. This technology enhances the integrity of our Laserforce attraction’s throughput model by ensuring every game is accounted for and providing valuable analytical tools and insights.”
On the game play side, he said the company is “pushing the boundary of what is possible” with its unique Gen8 Battlesuits that harness what he describes as “powerful reverse-IR technology, allowing interaction between nearby players and devices in a way never seen before in the laser tag industry.”
The company also continues to develop new game types. “In 2022, Laserforce booths around the world will be showing the incredible Gen8 Auras, and new and exciting game types that use this new technology,” all of which are running on their Gen8 Infinity system, a “top-of-the-line laser tag Battlesuit, featuring 5” chest screens with customizable logos, avatars, graphics and backgrounds.” The Gen8 system also features Infinity lighting that has an intense spectrum of colors and illuminated vest fabric to match.
Epstein boasts that Laserforce has the industry’s best hit detection technology with their Reverse IR Lock on system. Phasers sport a 3.5″ screen that is interactive, easy to use and immersive for players.
What Sets You Apart? “Laserforce Gen8 equipment is built on a robust, easy-to-clean vest coupled with infinity lighting. It’s probably the most photogenic laser tag equipment on the market, and we all know what this means – awesome social media!” said Epstein.
Along with the many improvements to the system over the years, the company has developed a range of interactive arena elements that essentially allows the customer to ‘play against the arena.’(One player could enter the arena and have a battle against the elements, but of course, it’s a whole lot more fun with a bunch of friends.)
Epstein highlighted top features of the Gen8 equipment: Infinity lighting with limitless capabilities in terms of Battlesuit theming and team coloring; HD touch screen on the phaser and a 5” screen on the chest; customizable prompts, phaser abilities and avatars for gameplay; and vibration hit recognition, combined with multiple independent hit zones and reverse IR technology.
Additionally, he said Gen8 auras and proximity detection for richer diversity in gameplay; RFID card reading capabilities built in to the Battlesuit, allowing for instant tap-n-play; and next-generation software that allows complete customization of the way their customers want to operate their system. Operators can produce analytical game and engineering reports, customize games and achievements, and can also integrate with their preferred POS and debit card supplier.
“Laserforce keeps its finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry and is always making sure that R&D is geared to keep up with the trends in the industry,” he said. “Later this year, we will be releasing something truly groundbreaking to keep up with these trends and enable our operators to have the biggest edge they can over their competitors,” he claimed.
On Covid: “Given the circumstances, Laserforce’s laser tag sites are performing very strongly,” Epstein reported. “Many of our operators are reporting revenues equal to or exceeding pre-Covid levels as their customers have pent-up demand to get out and do something.”
Thoughts on the Future: “In a world becoming ever more virtual and remote. Laserforce laser tag provides an opportunity for families, friends and communities to get out of the house, grab a Battlesuit and have fun. It has been a stressful past few years, and now more than ever the escape provided by laser tag is a welcome adventure!
“We are always looking to adapt our products to the changing landscape of entertainment and we are already responding to a shifting demand towards deeper interactivity and complexity in gameplay, richness in features and satisfaction from rewards and levelling system,” Epstein stated. “We have integrated with other industry leading entertainment companies to bring cutting edge technology to the industry, and we will continue to do so,” Epstein concluded.
Erik Guthrie, Executive VP
Victor Miller, VP of Operations
Jason Donoway, Lead Technician
Vanessa McMullen, Office Manager
Founded in 1987, which the company says makes LaserTag.com the oldest laser tag manufacturer and supplier. In the U.S., they have about 300 locations and about 800 worldwide. They are focused on the fixed indoor arena and indoor portable laser tag sector of the laser tag industry. “Because we concentrate on these two sectors, we have grown to be the largest supplier in the industry,” the company says.
What’s New? Exec VP Erik Guthrie spotlighted a number of their more-recent innovations: “We pioneered the FAT green laser beam; magnetic charging for the packs, which prevents the inherent weakness of inductive or capacitive charging; LINUX game servers mean no more Windows updates shutting down the laser tag operations; and there is Entire Attraction Control, right on the user’s phone (iPhone or Android).”
The company also developed a safety video on the phaser which delivers the rules to the players before the games begin; Self-Diagnostic and SMS Text Notifier; Weapons Selection Capacitive Touch Buttons; and for birthdays, any pack can feature the birthday mode so operators don’t need a designated expensive pack only for the guest of honor.
Guthrie said their Vestless Laser Tag Phaser integrates with their vested system so small children can play with the big kids with no vest to wear. There are also over 50 different game formats and Dual Arena Control – makes it easy to run two arenas at the same time.
When it comes to bases, they offer wireless so you can move them where you like, plus they offer video bases. “Our laser tag bases pioneered interactive game play and now we have games within our laser games with our new video bases,” he said, “and we have DMX 2.0. We introduced DMX to the industry and now we have revolutionized it to allow for greater interactivity.”
What Sets You Apart? “Zone pioneers the technology that is adapted by other companies years later,” said Guthrie. “We provide cutting edge technology for your guests. Our big distinction is that we are operators ourselves. Between the principles, we own and operate over 13 locations around the world. Some competitors do not own a location or have been out of operations for over a decade. But we use our equipment to make money in our stores taking care of our guests and putting money in our bank account just like our operators.”
On Covid: “We have always been a lean company and we got even leaner. We laid off some employees and moved others to contract work only. We worked with our operators regarding their financial situations and arranged better payment terms as we handle that in-house. We created a feature in our equipment that lets players know if they are within six feet of another player to help keep compliance with CDC guidelines. Like everyone else, we lost some really impressive clients and great friends. The industry is poised to recover, and we are investing in the future.”
Thoughts on the Future: “We are excited about the future of the industry. It has been moving forward for over 35 years and it is not slowing down. Customers love the great game play of Zone Laser Tag. We see even more game enhancements, we are working on three new arena devices, at least five new game formats and new DMX technology to allow the customer greater interface control. We have always invested in the future of the industry. Moving forward we see augmented reality and minor use of VR being game enhancements but not game changers. VR will never replace laser tag!”
Ann Kessler, Sales
Greg Watches, Sales
Lasertron was founded in 1986. They offer indoor laser tag and have 187 locations currently operating – most of them in North America. Two are company-owned locations in Buffalo, N.Y. (opened in 1988) and Rochester, N.Y. (opened in 2015). Their top five games are King of the Hill, Domination, Team Base, Battle Royale (Solo & Squads) and Headquarters. All of those games are designed to interact with their LED Arena Sectors. Each sector is designed with its own dedicated sound system and display screen to add to the immersion of the game play experience.
What’s New? Sales exec Ann Kessler had a lot to report. Among them, LED Sectors, Battle Royale (Solo & Squads), Center Manager Pro, Supply Drops.
“After 12 months of development and real-world testing in our Lasertron LED Illuminated Arena at our Buffalo entertainment center, Lasertron’s Supply Drops are now fully operational in our Buffalo and Rochester venues,” she said. “Just like first-person shooter video games played online by over a billion players, Supply Drops contain valuable items such as extra laser pulses, energy units, as well as other power-ups like Rapid Fire, Mega Blaster, and many more that can give players an advantage while playing. Most importantly, these Supply Drops can be picked up by any player – skilled or novice.
“In a Lasertron Battle Royale Squad game,” Kessler continued, “supply drops are announced and deployed at random times and locations throughout the arena. Players hear “Supply Drops Incoming” over the global arena sound system. Sectors receiving a Supply Drop will activate the lock-in audio effect and the entire sector illuminates blue with a white pulse.
“Immediately following the lock-in sound, a chirping audio effect is heard from the sector’s built-in sound system drawing players to the sector’s location. The first player to reach the sector will collect the Supply Drop and when that is collected, it will activate immediately or be available in the player’s power-up menu. To access the menu, a player simply holds down the trigger and the Power-Up menu appears. Using the buttons on the front of the phaser, the player selects the Power-Up acquired and releases the trigger to activate it.”
What Sets You Apart? “First, we only offer LED Illuminated Arenas that interact seamlessly with Lasertron’s LT-12.9 Game System,” said Kessler. “And secondly, we now have the best, most comprehensive Center Manager Pro System in the industry for entertainment centers. Set up an online presentation or visit Lasertron to see it in action.”
“For nearly 20 years, Lasertron has provided free quarterly operators’ conferences where operators receive valuable information, new ideas, make lasting connections with other operators, and return to their centers with the tools and knowledge to help them be more profitable. Lasertron conferences are not sponsored by any other third party,” she noted.
On Covid: “They were very challenging times, but we have a fantastic team. We all stayed focused, learned a lot, developed a ton of new software features and greatly expanded the features of our Center Manager Pro,” she said. “We even created a new high-end axe throwing attraction that everyone loves! We stayed in touch with all of our operators through Zoom calls, emails, published articles,and were available to assist them when they reopened,” she concluded.
Paul Savard, President/Sales
Shannon Carriere, Service Manager
LaZer Runner says it has installed over 820 systems worldwide. Since their inception in 1994, they have seen their equipment “touch down in cities across every continent on the planet.”
What’s New? “The current version of LaZer Runner software provides operators with numerous game choices to offer their customers,” said Paul Savard. “With options like individual player games, different Team Play modes and multiple mission-based challenges, fun center owners can entertain all types of guests, from the casual drop-in player to the more experienced gamer.”
He added, “One of the game types is an owner-operator’s secret weapon – Continuous Play. LaZer Runner was the first to introduce this unique feature to the laser tag industry, and it has been a popular highlight of our systems for more than a decade. Continuous Play allows players to join games already in progress. This feature keeps the arena packed and boosts revenues during prime-time hours!”
Birthday parties, group functions, ardent gamers, and the casual fan – there’s a LaZer Runner mission for everyone, Savard said. “Our latest Gen-4 LED Phaser has taken the laser tag world by storm, bringing an illuminating element to the game. Now, our fiberoptic Battle Vests glow multiple colors; the phaser itself radiates intensely like an LED torch.
“The new Gen-4 Phaser is also the seventh target location on the LaZer Runner armor, adding a new competitive element to the game,” he continued. “The lightweight, ergonomic design is a first for the laser tag industry. Manufactured using a two-shot mold process that combines a rubber protective layer over a polycarbonate inner shell that makes the new GEN4 Phaser ultra-tough. The translucent white phaser shell LaZer Runner brings a state-of-the-art fresh feel to the game.”
Powering the striking vest and phaser combos are 10-port lithium-ion quick-charge modules. A swift 3-hour charge (generally overnight, they say) allows the vests to be used continuously for up to 18 hours.
“Because we have the utmost trust and confidence in our equipment, we’re proudly able to include a 3-year (parts and labor) warranty with our systems, with longer-term coverage options available,” Savard said.
What Sets You Apart? “While the goal of offering interactive family fun is the same for all suppliers in our industry, LaZer Runner equipment does differ from our competitors in some ways,” Savard said “The most visual distinction is our Battle Vest Fiber Optics. We are the only supplier on the market that uses fiber optic panels as vest targets. Using fiber optics in our vests reduces the external circuitry by 80% compared to other laser tag manufacturers.” He says this unique characteristic makes their vests more durable and reliable. As an added advantage, no bulky targets or protruding electronics make for a sleekest vest design.
Arenas: LaZer Runner offers an impressive lineup of arena styles tailor-made to excel in any venue.
Battle Station II: The arenas set a standard for being tough durable and low-maintenance, the company says. “Players walk through our signature Arch Entryway. Among the settling fog and pulsing beats of the music, players compete with one another or on teams and seek out Home Base and Sentry Pod targets found throughout the arena to score points. LaZer Runner bases and pods are interactive and can deactivate unsuspecting players if they leave themselves vulnerable.”
Battle Station arenas are a solid addition to any facility, they say and are available as a turn-key system to include everything needed to operate your laser tag.
Hybrid arena: The “next level in arena design,” they have terrace elevations and blacklight turbine tunnels. This option combines the Battle Station arena elements with custom-built obstacles and themed airbrushing to offer a stunning addition to your fun center. “These eye-popping Hybrid arenas are exclusive to LaZer Runner,” said Savard, “and are guaranteed to ramp up excitement among the laser tag faithful and eager first-timers. “
Custom theming solutions: The company says their all-inclusive custom designs “transform your space into anything imaginable. The quality of these realistic ‘Laser Tag Coliseums’ rivals those of Hollywood movie sets.”
Industry evolution: “At first glance, it may seem as though the laser tag industry has gone through considerable changes as an attraction. Still, while the technology has evolved, the overall concept has remained the same. The desire to provide high-energy family entertainment in a safe and fun environment has been a goal of laser tag suppliers from day one,” said Savard. “But the very evolution of much of the equipment on the market today may also be the most significant issue presently facing the industry.
“With constant technological advances, many manufacturers have attempted to modernize their equipment by introducing countless options to entice buyers,” he asserted. “Much of the market is saturated with systems that offer complex options largely recognizable only to a ‘hard-core gamer’ type. Owner/operators are sold into purchasing flashy gimmicks and laundry lists of game options they will most likely never use.
This hurts fun centers because customers are looking for fun, safe, and affordable entertainment and not a game that requires excessive training or preparation before entering an arena. “Laser tag is a fun and simple attraction that accommodates players of all ages and skill levels. Many suppliers’ systems have become too elaborate for the general public to play and too complicated for operators to manage by introducing endless options and game types,” he opined.
Operations, training and support: “At LaZer Runner, we pride ourselves on working with our customers on a business level and as a partnership,” Savard said. “From the initial conversation with our sales team to installing the system, we support our partners every step of the way. Our install technicians provide full training on-site and may even join in on a spirited game! The mark of a great company is a strong service team and LaZer Runner possesses a world-class crew, always available through our 24/7/365 service hotline.
“There is far more to laser tag than just vests and phasers. Whether it is equipment, construction, marketing strategies or simply helpful advice, we have the experience and knowledge to help our customers succeed,” he concluded.