#1188 – Amazing Attractions Extravaganza! – Part 4

For those who attended the show floor, the majority were wedded to their respective booths, or only able to gather a snapshot of trends spread over a handful of booths over the four days of hectic conference, show floor, and partying.

Luckily, The Stinger Report, supported by our affiliates, was able to gather its usual detailed and exclusive rundown of key trends and developments on and off the Orlando trade floor. In this fourth part, we look at Sim Racing, and the Race Center scene’s impact on the industry, and the first part of new Amusement business revealed at the show.

Start Your Engines

An aspect of the competitive social element is that of competition between players in tournaments and championships. One of those aspects of the eSports scene
that has seen the greatest growth has been that of digital motorsports. Defined as “Sim Racing”, this aspect of the market was in strong evidence on the IAAPA’23 show floor.

D-BOX Technologies – some of the leaders in motion simulation platforms, their actuator-based systems are utilized by most Sim Racing developers, and the company has seen their latest actuators employed in new haptic floor systems.
Racing simulators employing the latest motion platform from D-BOX were ubiquitous.

Race simulators on the show floor included those from developers ImSim and Wave Italy, fresh from IAAPA-EU’23. Meanwhile, Base Performance Simulators (BPS) had their ‘Phoenix’ platform, partnering with Biz Karts to share their booth. Such developments are moving towards supporting FEC and Competitive Socializing venues with a complete package – an example installation of their popular system was also demonstrated at the nearby Andretti entertainment venue, additionally to the show floor.

CXC Simulation is a veteran IAAPA exhibitor and exponent of the network racing platform. This year the company had on their booth an impressive racing simulator with full 6DoF motion and themed design. The system supports the ‘Motion Pro II’
platform, as well as their support of Race Sim rigs and their flight simulator work.

Facility installations of Sim Racing depend on strong management systems and hardware; from exhibitors such as SimGear Racing Simulators.

Also on the show floor, AMEGA Entertainment presented to the attendance their ‘E-Racing Container’ – comprising four 2DOF VR rally simulators, supported by spectator screens and café-bar installation, all in a pop-up container unit, able to
be deployed easily to offer racing simulation anywhere.

The Sim Racing Scene

Speaking of racing simulators at IAAPA’23, taking place nearly at the same time was one of the largest competitive Sim Racing exhibitions, with the European ADAC SimRacing Expo 2023. The event has become vital to chart the trends and developments in the commercial and consumer application of network racing, and this year’s event threw up some interesting insights into the crossover between commercial venue racing and home sports.

Looking at racing centers on the stage with Sim Racing Ltd., developers of simulation management centers and with a background in being one of the first to operate a Sim Racing space in the sector – charting the start of their dream, back in 1998, with ‘Grand Prix Legends’ PC racing. Sim Racing Center offers low time and low-price investment towards running their own high-end RaceRig – outsourcing the complexity of setup.

The actual history of the Out-of-Home application of race simulation was glossed over, but it is important to remember the impact that NAMCO’s ‘Pole Position’ (1982), KONAMI ‘WEC Le mans’ (1986), ATARI ‘Hard Drivin’ (1988), SEGA ‘Virtua Formula’ (1992), NAMCO ‘Ridge Racer’ (1993), and ATARI ‘San Francisco RUSH 2049’ (1999) had in shaping the later consumer network racing. This and the developers behind it would influence racing attractions, such as the influential ‘NASCAR CyberSpeedway’ attraction and café at Sahara Casino in Las Vegas during 2004 (which finally closed in 2011). Las Vegas, once again, is being the home of Sim Racing investment, as seen with the opening of the Base Performance Systems sims opening at AREA15 – along with plans for the CompSoc F1 Arcade venue’s placement.

This is an example supporting the Sim Racing platform, who have moved towards a venue management system for their platform, running multiple connected RaceSims – even operational from kiosk mode and emulating much of what was seen with the turnkey amusement Sim Racing approach.

Bridging the gap between gaming and motorsport, the popularity of this was also reflected in the UK, with the holding of the launch party for the second F1 Arcade venue in Birmingham (following the 2022 launch of the first London flagship site). The 11,000-sq.ft. venue reported to have over 40 ‘V-Zero’ RaceRigs developed by partners Vesaro, running a specially reconfigured version of rFactor 2 (arcade racing experience). F1 Arcade has revealed ambitious plans to roll out some 30-venues globally in the next few years, owned by Kindred Concepts, after securing a £30m investment.

Speaking of F1 – the launch of the first F1 Drive experience was revealed for the UK. This is a go-karting experienced based on the IP from the motorsport championship. The latest entertainment venue employing the branding is set to open in London at Tottenham Hotspur stadium, in a fully electric karting experience, supporting the F1 partnership with its sponsors. It is expected this will be rolled out across other venues in coming months. This is the latest aspect of the F1 brand being licensed for deployment in the LBE scene.

A New Generation of Amusement

This year’s IAAPA proved to be a turning point for the amusement sector, as the industry came to the realization of the winds of change sweeping the market. The ‘New Amusement’ scene has seen changes in distribution and operation – as well as a growing new wave of designs and trends. Even a new way to operate hardware.

The crowded Game and Arcade Pavilion of the IAAPA show floor proved a melting pot of the changes impacting the amusement trade; and offered a wide selection of innovation far more than was indicated at Gala in September. Most of the trade is now reverting to the Orlando event as their main springboard for new releases.

The Betson Enterprise booth, representing Raw Thrills, was crowded as always with previous releases, but regarding new hardware releases, the big stir surrounded ‘Godzilla Kaiju Wars VR’ – the VR Ride Sim, with two players using mounted guns, and the system moving away from the previous VR headset provider to now partnering with DPVR, and with the cabinet employing a robust retention system for the headset. The production version of the R&D design was exclusively revealed to distributors during the AAMA Gala factory visit.

The IP based VR experience was the latest mounted VR gun game in the market to employ the VR Ride Sim approach. A similar approach was seen last year, from UNIS with their ‘Sailor’s Quest VR’ pirate experience. Raw Thrills also added to their highly popular VR Ride Sim, given an update and additional game chapters, with the launch of ‘King Kong of Skull Island

Following on from the big push (and success) of the 2022 release of the ‘Fast & Furious Arcade’ DX, with its large presence and motion platform, it was obvious that not all locations would be able to accommodate this massive installation. With this in mind, Raw Thrills has rolled out a standard version of the game. ‘Fast & Furious Arcade’ SD offers more conventional arcade racer cabs and a dual 43’’ screen but is also able to be operated in a four-player network configuration. The machine has been released with a twin setup with marquee.

Another new release was ‘Big Buck Hunter Reloaded’ by Play Mechanix. In the latest IP, the company revealed the latest update content for the popular competition shooter – releasing the mini-games ‘The Walking Dead’ (following on from the full arcade release of the IP by the company in 2017).

One of the other big booths was seen with SEGA Amusement International (SAI), wowing the IAAPA’23 attendance with the surprise entry into the DX street racer scene (Raw Thrills ‘Fast & Furious Arcade’ DX having started an arms race in the big DX motion racers scene). The company launched ‘Apex Rebels DX’ – a game developed by SAI (part of Kaizen Entertainment) and 3MindWave, offered in a four-driving cab on motion-bases, in a deluxe configuration, with a large 65’’ main screen, and a LED video billboard style marquee. This is cut from the same cloth as that seen, going head-to-head in sales, along with Raw ThrillsBandai Namco, and Adrenaline Amusement equivalents – as well as new entrants revealed on the IAAPA’23 floor.

The other big lineup was the ride on ‘Hyper Cross’ – offering a high-speed snowmobile experience, including wind effects and the vehicle on its own motion base. These releases were supported by new skill and crane machines from SAI and partners. One of these was ‘Zombies Ready, Deady, Go!’ – a four-player skill-based Videmption ball rolling game. Also announced at the show, SAI and LAI Games cited the continuation of a sales agreement in Europe, taking on the distribution of their new range in the territory (covered shortly). And we have already reported on their representation of 501 Entertainment on their booth.

Returning to a wet IAAPA and, for Bandai Namco Amusement (BNA), while the booth at IAAPA’23 was crowded, BNA had some other projects in development off site. One of the most reported tests has been that in JP and US of ‘Gold Storm Pirates’, the successor to ‘Deadstorm Pirates’ (2014) – the environment cabinet two-player shooting game is expected to receive a 2024 release, after a laborious testing and revision program in JP and US and is part of several new developments (see following Japan Amusement Expo report).

One of the big VR announcements at the show was the launch of ‘Godzilla Kaiju Wars VR’ from Raw Thrills, represented in key territories by BNA and taking pride of place on their booth. It was interesting to see Bandai Namco representing the Godzilla license, considering that the Japanese parent had invested so much in their own VR interpretation of the movie monster. Bandai JP’s embryonic VR Zone initiative, and their 2019 release ‘Godzilla VR’, had been the last fateful title of the VR arcade concept that was later abandoned. Hopes are this new VR outing for the lizard king in VR will be more successful.

Another new platform, not for IAAPA’23 but worth mentioning, was the recent launch by BNAE of ‘Wincha’. This represented the UK-launched smartphone app “Live Play” crane machines. It was started at the beginning of the year by the UK division and this represented the latest Western deployments of this app amusement application, following the success seen in the Japanese scene (no news on a possible US rollout for the app). This was supported by a marketing promotion, seeing BN group (Bandai UK, BNAE and BNE UK) present their brands and products across the floor at London’s ‘MCM Comic-Con’ event – promoting the new plush and mobile app play platform, and underlining the popularity of Japanese crane merch with the gathered Comic-Con audience.

Back on the Orlando show floor and at IAAPA’23, LAI Games had previously released products on display, as well as the final production version of ‘Asphalt 9 Legends Arcade VR’. This immersive take on the street racer includes a new “Hunted Mode” that challenges guests to outrun the authorities hot on their trail. Also based on the IP and launched at the show was ‘Asphalt Moto Blitz’ – building on the brand, this latest twin motorbike “ride-on” deluxe cabinet with wind effects and motion, enters a crowded market.

On the LAI booth was also the new video ‘Air Strike’ – the twin seated flying game experience offers a fun graphical flight through a mystical landscape. Guests shoot down enemies to progress, with the game supporting both tickets and amusement only operation. Two new coin pushers were also introduced, the tower-centered ‘Cosmic Spire’ and ‘Dragon’s Bane’, which features a mix of analogue and digital gameplay.

Adrenalin Amusement had their own new deluxe platform, this time a mounted shooter with motion seats. ‘Drakons – Realm Keepers’ offered a twin big screen cabinet, based on the strategy game license – offering a fantasy shooter. Adrenalin has already placed their entry into the DX racing game with ‘NFS’ – and now offers a second deluxe big box video.

The innovation kept coming from JET Games – following on from their ‘Big Shot’ shooting gallery previewed at IAAPA’EU back in September, the company came to IAAPA’23 with ‘Mega Shot’, the same big screen shooting gallery action, but with the metal pistol replaced by a metal automatic rifle with scope and recall. According to reports, the machines on the booth were constantly in action. A trend from several manufacturers has been labelled ‘Metal Gun Games’ and can be traced back to the TAITO 2018 ‘Gun Arena’ release that spawned a number of Chinese releases (some seen at the show). The new JET game series seems to build on the premise and, across on the Costal Amusements booth, their ‘Bullseye Crack Shot’ followed the same “metal gun game” trajectory.

Regarding a new entrant to the amusement scene and, off Pavilion, was Gesture Art & Design – as reported by our friends at Arcade Heroes, this company has entered the amusement scene with their gesture recognition game ‘Food Flight’. Still in an early stage of development, the company hopes to have the final release ready for March 2024. The AVS Companies IAAPA’23 booth represented the latest exA-Arcadia range of upright cabinet licensed and original games. They also had the VRLEO VR kiosk system on display.

On the Amusement Source International (ASI) booth was shown ‘Parkour Motor 2’ (developed by ACE Amusement) – a twin motorbike street racer, the ride-on racing game includes a motion platform for the riders, aimed for a younger audience. The company also presented their ‘Go! Hero of Robots’ (developed by WAHLAP), an AR based game that, with computer vision, captures the players’ movements and represents them in the game on screen. Also presented was the video shooter ‘Zombie Crisis’.

About the author

Kevin Williams

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The brainchild of two location-based experience enthusiasts, Christine Buhr and Brandon Willey, the LBX Collective aims to inform and educate, create opportunities to connect with industry peers, and to spur collaboration, discourse, and cross-pollination of ideas.

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