XD Dark Ride vs Room Scale VR

Published by Lynn Bagwan on

What is XD Dark Ride?

After traveling with my family to a couple of different destinations, we noticed that some businesses are referring to this XD Dark Ride attraction as "virtual reality".  This attraction has you and a group of people sit in chairs and wear plastic 3-D glasses.  The seats have some motion and vibration.  You also have a basic toy gun to shoot at the screen.  Bottom line, it is on par with 3-D movies.  It is not virtual reality.

What is Room Scale VR?

Room scale virtual reality (VR) is a standing experience that allows the user free roam within a physical space.  You have an actual VR headset on that places you in a virtual world.  Typically, you have a controller in each hand that allows you to manipulate things in the virtual environment.  You can also have variations that include more realistic guns instead of controllers, haptic vests to feel impacts in the virtual world, and even an omni-directional treadmill to manage movement.  Bottom line, room scale VR is more immersive and a far better experience.

Comparing Experiences

What about the content? What's the difference between XD Dark Ride and Room Scale VR?  With the ride attraction, you will have a handful of experiences to choose from.  Literally, there will be about five.  If you've ever been to a Disney theme park, Disney has been doing 3-D ride attractions since the 90s.

With room scale VR, you can have hundreds of experiences to choose from.  They will be games and experiences that you will have actually heard of before because they are cross-platform.  Titles like Beat Saber, SuperHot, Job Simulator, Arizona Sunshine, Tilt Brush, Pistol Whip, and many others are part of that large menu of options.

But it's not about the quantity.  The quality of the experience is simply not even close.  Room scale VR is the more talked about, more fun option.  You should try both and see for yourself.

Then there's the issue of replayability.  This is when the user wants to come back and play a game or experience over and over again.  With XD Dark Ride, once you complete each of the five experiences, you don't come back to do them again.  With room scale VR, you can spend hours of your life playing the games you love.  And with room scale VR, you will never have enough time to play all of the various experiences available.  It's like Netflix compared to network television.  Room scale VR is Netflix in that example.

VR Attraction Economics

If you are an entertainment venue owner or other property manager seeking out a virtual reality attraction, you have a big decision to make.  Do you purchase a self-contained VR ride attraction, or a more versatile room scale VR solution?

What is the cost of each option?  The XD Dark Ride costs upwards of $300,000.  A 10-person room scale VR solution would cost approximately $75,000.

Mic drop! Why would anyone pay FOUR TIMES as much for something that is less fun and has zero replayability?

How to Provide Room Scale VR

There are a lot of technical requirements and issues that arise with technology.  A property owner's best bet is to partner with a knowledgeable and reputable Virtual Reality as a Service (VRaaS) vendor.  You provide the physical space and utilities, the VRaaS partner provides the technology, training, and support.


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