The largest multiplayer free-roam virtual reality game arenas in America will open in Greater Boston and Philadelphia later this year, after a deal between Australian VR software specialist Zero Latency and start-up operation, MindTrek.
MindTrek is a new venture co-founded by Brad Wurtz, David Rzepski and David O’Connor and has signed an area development deal with Zero Latency to open multiple arenas in and around Boston and Philadelphia. The project will start with virtual reality game arenas in Woburn, MA this summer and in Marlborough, MA this autumn. MindTrek will also open an arena in Philadelphia, PA before the end of this year. Plans are underway for future arenas to open in the regions during 2018.
Zero Latency’s patent-pending motion tracking system enables teams of players wearing portable virtual reality gear to participate simultaneously in immersive cooperative game experiences in a warehouse-sized space. It claims to be the first and only company with technology that allows as many as six players to freely explore richly themed and hyper realistic game environments, with that number planned to expand to eight later this year.
The Woburn and Marlborough locations in the Boston suburbs will be each configured with dual 2,000 square foot arenas under one roof, enabling MindTrek the flexibility to offer two different games at the same time, or utilise the space as a single 4,000 square foot arena for larger, more epic free-roam experiences. These will be the only dual-arena facilities in the world and the largest free roam VR gaming facilities in the US.
Zero Latency-powered arenas have no physical walls or obstacles, which means players walk, explore, and fight their way through wildly different virtual terrains.
“We were drawn to Zero Latency’s technology as they are the only company offering true free-roam gaming while accommodating more simultaneous players than anything else on the market,” states MindTrek co-founder, David Rzepski. “They are so far ahead of the virtual reality curve that consumers are guaranteed an exhilarating and mind-blowing experience. Our arenas will excite gamers and non-gamers alike because there is simply nothing else like this.”
When the arenas open, players will roam through a dark cityscape fighting off hordes of attacking undead in Zombie Survival or join a collaborative puzzle-solving game experience in Engineerium which involves exploring “a whimsical world where gravity and physics have no bounds”. Zero Latency will continue to develop games for the arenas on an ongoing basis.
“Zero Latency is pleased to work with the MindTrek founders, who have demonstrated a keen understanding of out-of-home entertainment through their previous ventures in the region,” said Bob Cooney, Zero Latency’s head of global business development and an amusement industry and virtual reality veteran. “These gentlemen have the vision to recognise that Zero Latency is going revolutionise location-based entertainment and they have stepped up to be first-movers in these markets.”
“Our high-level virtual reality gaming destinations will fill a big hole in out-of-home entertainment,” added MindTrek co-founder David O’Connor. “The amusement industry as a whole focuses on young kids and birthday parties, whereas Zero Latency is focused squarely on premium entertainment experiences for millennials.”
These will be amongst a very few locations in America, joining recently-opened facilities in Orlando in Florida, Wisconsin Dells in Wisconsin, and Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Zero Latency-powered game arenas are also open overseas in Melbourne, Madrid, and Tokyo. The Melbourne retail facility has been open for more than eighteen months, giving Zero Latency the opportunity to battle test its technology, learn from player playing, and fine-tune a stable, consistent experience for consumers. The company’s existing gaming arenas range from 2,000 to over 4,000 square feet, making them up to five times larger than any current free-roam VR gaming environment.
“Zero Latency’s extraordinarily flexible approach to virtual reality gaming will give us the chance to instantly switch between games, change the length of games, or combine arenas for twice the play space throughout the day,” says MindTrek co-founder Brad Wurtz. “It’s the type of model that attracts repeat business and allows us to scale to demand on an hour-by-hour basis, which is attractive to us as operators.”
Players in Zero Latency-powered arenas across the globe are outfitted with OSVR HDK2 virtual reality headsets and communicate with each through a Razer integrated headphone / microphone unit while wearing a military-grade backpack (pictured) containing a high-performance Alienware PC gaming laptop. They also carry a custom-made simulated weapon for game sessions that require firepower. Untethered, they are free to roam within the virtual space while walking it in the real world and see each other as full-motion avatars in the game. Patent-pending technology using more than 100 cameras and motion capture devices track each player in real-time as they move around the arena.