A Report from the First Quarter of 2017

February 13, 2017 No Comments

By Scott Borowsky and Frank Seninsky

Now that the inauguration is over, a large majority of our population have gone back to work, some with euphoria, some with cautious optimism, and some with a different outlook.  But the one thing that everyone seems to have in common is an enhanced need to socialize and have fun.  And that is what all of the ‘buzz’ is about up and down the leisure out-of-home entertainment industry, our industry!

Freerun_MG_7897-1By the time you are reading this, many of us will be heading to the Amusement Expo in Dallas, Texas.  All of the different branches of our industry will be represented. For example, on Sunday and Monday, three will be Foundations Entertainment University and on Tuesday, there will be seminars for AAMA and the Laser Tag Convention. Additionally, Amusement Expo will take place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Buzz Boyz Industry Idea

Opportunity is once again knocking.  Is anybody home to answer the door? Driving games with redemption! The younger players can have more fun while practicing and receive bonuses for reaching certain levels when competing against other players, honing their skills for that great day when they get to age 21.  By that time, you can bet that the gambling age will be reduced to 18. This is also a natural for parties and group events:  “I am a better driver than you.”

The same can also be done with video cranes.  That is what the Crazy Claw engine is really all about.  Actually, any mechanical redemption game can be transformed into a skill video redemption game.

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Buzz Boyz Predictions 

Buzz Boyz prediction number one: 2017 is the year that coin-op (domestic and worldwide) will play an ever larger role in revenue production for family entertainment centers. People want More entertainment when they leave their home and they want a good deal.  We are social animals, want to be out and about but need a good reason to be motivated to do so. Our industry’s number one goal should to steer them to us.

Buzz  Boyz prediction number two:  Food and beverage will capture a higher percentage of total facility revenue. Beer and wine licenses are usually easier and less expensive to obtain. Huge food and beverage revenues are being seen at bars, restaurants, bowling centers and retro-arcades that have added 30-40 beer taps.  It is pretty obvious that younger patrons want more beer choices.

Buzz Boyz prediction number three:  Ninja Warrior Courses (NWC) will become a major family entertainment center (FEC) attraction, following the longevity of laser tag.  NWC has all the comic book stuff going for it plus requires a much smaller footprint, huge throughput (80 people an hour in some cases), huge spectator appeal, great price and interchangeable elements. These attractions are a natural for new technology add-ons. Adding a NWC to your FEC gives you the opportunity to be a part of the participatory sports craze.

Also, perhaps we will soon see NWC players wearing laser tag vests and carrying phasors and even competing as teams. Of course, there are always negatives to any good thing, so here are two negatives: a requirement for higher ceilings than one-level laser tag and possibly slightly higher insurance rates.

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Buzz Boyz prediction number four: The amusement industry will benefit from casino skill-based gaming if our manufacturers actively get involved.  If is the operative word in this prediction.  Casinos are working hard to capture more millennials as the WWII generation and older Baby Boomers populations are no longer here. Skill-based gaming is the new trend. We are now seeing driving games as a focus. Players and spectators can bet on the outcome of players lined up (like a group game at an amusement park) in a linked race. Of course, all players and betting spectators currently have to be over age 21, but the amusement industry can benefit by having the same driving games. FEC’s have the locations and people of all ages can practice.

Buzz Boyz prediction number five: Escape Rooms will populate FEC’s (hint-a party room can be an Escape Room as shown by Studio41b at IAAPA 2016) and this is where a lot of new technologies will be easily introduced to our industry.  But a work of caution: FECs should strive to keep the price/play in line with other FEC attractions for their traditional customer base. However, there are other target markets out there (especially during Mondays through Fridays) that are willing to pay more and have little interest in traditional FEC attractions.  But who knows, maybe a reasonable percentage of these groups can be converted to casual FEC customers.  Therein lies the challenge to you marketeers.

Buzz Boyz prediction number six: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR). The public is waiting in anticipation for VR/AR/MR to play a bigger role, and this will slowly progress over the next five years. However, these days technology advancements can occur much faster.

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The point I want to drive home is that all of this video and entertainment research and development is being done by companies that are not connected with our traditional amusement game industry.  The closest connection I could find is Eugene Jarvis of Raw Thrills who presented at the Twitch.tv annual conference, but this had more to do with the eSports and our industry’s driving games and live streaming video.

Just my 2 cents, but Magic Leap of Plantation, Fla., may be a company to watch, as their technology could take that ‘magic leap forward’ and replace the common computer screen as well as Iphones, tablets, computers, and televisions.

 Photos provided by Adventure Solutions.

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