Competitive Play and VR eSports

In the following discussion, we investigate the use of competitive gaming in location-based entertainment (LBE) sphere and the role of virtual reality (VR) in reshaping eSports. eSports, a widely recognized video game format involving tournaments and championships, has earned significant renown, accumulating an estimated fan base of 532 million globally, of which 487 million are from China alone. In fact, the 19th Asian Games to be held this year in Hangzhou plan to incorporate medal events revolving around eSports competitions.

Despite a handful of consumer VR competitive activities coming to a halt, the commercial realm of competitive VR entertainment continues its upward trajectory. eSports, through VR, has been fully welcomed in China as early as 2015, signaled by the organization of the “World VR Arena” Championships. This event had teams participate in ‘Virtual Warfare’, a multiplayer VR game. Since that event, China has paved the way in investing in VR eSports, treating it as a competitive cultural event. In 2018, Sky Limit Entertainment collaborated with Intel to launch the “Virtual Reality Esport Season” (VRES) in Beijing, an event that has been held annually ever since.

The Western acceptance of VR eSports has been more cautious, with VR LBE splitting into two divisions. The first division includes the incorporation of immersive entertainment in various venues as a standalone amusement feature or as an exclusive VR service. A remarkable example in this area is Virtuix’s “OMNI Arena”, utilizing omni-directional VR treadmills. The company has established arenas equipped with multiple treadmills where players can walk and run in a connected virtual environment. Known as a high-energy eSports attraction, the OMNI Arena is one of the few VR experiences that provides a physical activity component. Virtuix has organized successful competitions through their ‘Omniverse Esports’ local and global leaderboards, featuring more than 70 OMNI Arenas across the US that hold regular competitions and offer prize contests.

This is merely an introduction to competitive gaming in the larger context of the XR attractions and amusement industry. The incorporation of VR into eSports has introduced new opportunities for immersive entertainment and promises to significantly influence the direction of competitive gaming in the future.

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