Esports, a catch-all term for competitive gaming, continues to be a buzz word in our industry. But can you make money with esports?
Our data from over a million plays indicates that esports drives repeat play and attracts a new audience of gamers to your venue that may not be visiting today.
Esports stimulates repeat play
Of all nationwide plays by Omni Arena players with a user account, 32% are repeat plays, the highest of any VR attraction.
Omni Arena includes ongoing weekly and monthly esports contests organized by Virtuix (the operator doesn’t have to do anything). The top ten teams each month win over $5,000 in cash, and the total prize pool for 2020 is more than $100,000.
Prizes attract guests to your venue, and once there, stimulate them to play again and again. Some guests have played Omni Arena 70 times in six months, paying $12 or $15 each time.
Our data shows repeat play accelerating over time. At our earliest site, Pinballz in Austin, Texas, the repeat-play rate rose to 44%.
34% of repeat Omni Arena players visit the venue at least once a month to play, much higher than the average FEC visit frequency of 2.7 times per year (source: IAAPA Benchmark Report). 12% of repeat players visit weekly.
Repeat play translates to strong revenues. In December 2019, several Omni Arena sites generated more than $30,000 in revenue. Average sites earned $12K to $20K.
Esports attracts a new audience
In a player survey filled out by nearly 5,000 Omni Arena players, 43% of players report they visited the venue specifically to play Omni Arena. This result indicates that an esports attraction can function as an anchor for your venue and attract an audience of gamers who may not visit otherwise.
A successful anchor attraction also sustains player interest. It isn’t just a passing fad. The percentage of players visiting venues specifically to play Omni Arena has increased over time:
Physicality is key
Anchor attractions at entertainment centers, including bowling, go-karting, and laser tag, all share the same three characteristics:
- Active — a physical activity is involved
- Multiplayer — you can play with friends
- Competitive — players compete head-to-head or via a leaderboard
Only attractions with all three characteristics tend to achieve anchor status. These same attributes are also the essential ingredients to esports and Omni Arena. Yet Omni Arena differs from traditional anchor attractions in two important qualities: it has a smaller footprint (only 375 sq.ft.) and is more affordable.
Most VR attractions lack the “Active” component. Players just stand in place or cautiously move around a small space. Absent any sports-like physicality, the gameplay is inherently less competitive, and fewer players get “hooked”.
Not all esports attractions deliver results
Many VR attractions use, or misuse, the term “esports” to benefit from the current buzz. However, most of these attractions do not have online leaderboards, do not offer contests or prize pools, and do not build in physical gameplay. Without these essential features, they do not drive high repeat play.
These same VR attractions, on the other hand, might be incredibly immersive and deliver a novel user experience. But immersion, by itself, does not drive repeat play and sustained revenues. Guests tend to play just once, to satisfy their curiosity. The experience doesn’t keep them coming back.
Ultimately, it’s not about VR. Few guests visit a venue seeking a specific display technology. What guests do seek are new esports attractions, such as Omni Arena, that are emerging as genuine new anchors.