FAQs About Opening or Starting a VR Arcade

I’ve been speaking with a lot of people who are looking at opening a VR Arcade and That. Is. Awesome.

The more conversations I have, the more I hear the same questions. When I was coaching people about their “content strategy” they would always say “I don’t know what to write about”. I would tell them, “Write the answers to your Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). So without further adieu, here are 12 things you need to know…


The first thing you need to consider is what sort of VR Arcade will you be opening? Will it just have headsets and allow people to play games on the HTC Vive or will you offer something people can’t get at home like this?

This is a VR Pod from China
9D VR Experience…Not necessary for opening IMHO

I must admit this is a bit of a trick question in my mind. As it stands today 99+% of the population has neither of these things at home. So for now, either is the right answer. My suggestion is start simple and be prepared to add to it. People will be blown away by what’s available in the Vive today. And with all of the available experiences you can start by opening a smaller arcade and use that money to invest in opening one with fancier technology.


I know you’re busy thinking about the point above. Once you figure that out, you’ll have a better idea on how to answer this. In short, a typical “Vive Booth” requires a minimum of 8 feet by 8 feet (2.5 m x 2.5 m). If you have a little more space, all the better. (Check out this post about VR Arcade Design). You will also need room for some seating, check in and a lobby. So a very small arcade will be at least 800 square feet (250 sq meters). If you want to add the pods like pictured above or get into free roam experiences (see below: computer in a backpack so it’s portable VR) you will need WAY more space.

This is What Fun Looks Like
Standard HTC Vive booths at VR Junkies


You’re going to have costs associated with the technology (hardware, software, TVs, tablets, cabling, etc.) installation, design and construction of your space, rent, game fees, license fees, furniture, marketing and employees. Sounds fun, right? Some of these costs are 1 time charges and don’t amount to that much. Other charges are ongoing. Game licensing for instance…the more successful your arcade is, the more you will have to pay. Not a horrible problem to have. I’ll tell you what, I’ll write a more detailed post on costs if anyone asks.

When I was researching building out an arcade here in Detroit I had budgeted $70,000 to get the build out, equipment, software and have a bit of a cushion. If I didn’t get any business in the first 45 days, I wouldn’t have to worry about the 3rd month. I would have been closed up. Curious about learning from the other VR Arcade owners. How much did you budget for your opening?


I’ve written extensively on the importance of pricing so just click that link to read more. In short, we charge $1.00 a minute and give price breaks for an hour.  That post also has a currency converter and a lot of rationale. Check it out.


Your single best source of marketing is going to be the people who are in your arcade. Make it easy for them to promote you. Get yourselves listed on all of the cool social media channels. Come up with a short and memorable #. Encourage them to share photos and videos of themselves and their friends playing. Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising there is. Added bonus…it can be the cheapest.  Offer people 5 minutes of free play (on their next visit) for tagging your space.  Want more insight on marketing, check out This Post.


There are sooooooo many games. Like just so many. To say there are 1000 is an understatement. What’s even crazier is that for every game that exists there are probably 2 being developed right now. Here’s the truth…some games suck (that’s a technical term). They’re just not worth it. You need to make sure that your customers are offered a great gaming experience so it’s important to have access to some good data. We offer over 70 experiences through our licensing portal and continue to add top shelf experiences every week.  Click that link to learn more.

Make sure you have this game at opening
XorteX in the Lab is my fav VR experience.


Speaking of licensing, this is a HUGELY important consideration. You can’t just go to steam, buy/download a game and then sell it in your VR Arcade. You have to license it from the developer. Yes, you could go to each and every developer and ask them to license their games to you. Or you could partner with someone who has already done that. See that link above in games 😉


Did you ever see the movie The Field of Dreams? There was a line repeated throughout…”If you build it they will come”.  While many VR Arcade owners really want this to be true, that doesn’t mean it will be 🙁

If you’re not going to be in a location that has or is near significant foot traffic, you had better have a tremendous marketing budget. If you don’t have one or the other, this may not be the endeavor for you. Your space will need to be clean, accessible and a place that people will want to come. Think about opening in a mall or partnering with a place that already has lots of foot traffic. Some people are starting off by offering mobile VR Arcades. They’ll bring the gear to you. Maybe that’s a good starting point for you too?


To franchise or not franchise…that is this question. There’s pros and cons of both. A good franchise system will have all of the pieces in place for you to simply copy and paste your way into success.  But, you have to follow their rules and do things the way they want them done. This limits the creativity. Maybe that’s perfect if you’re not a creative type. Hmmmm

Here’s the deal, if you have your own brand already you may not want to franchise. If you don’t have one…maybe it will work out better. Check out VR Junkies for starters.


Software can help you automate so many processes that will save you time, energy and staff once you have your grand opening. It would be worth it to research now. We are pretty proud of the software we have built and are continually making improvements. My favorite part is that we handle the game licensing for you. See above.

Our Software tracking game plays & more


There are a few VR experiences that are mobile. Not like throw the equipment in the van and drive around mobile, but pack it up in a back pack and be able to move around in an Arena Scale version. IF this is what you’re thinking about opening, it is a whole different kettle of virtual fish. In fact, it’s a bit out of my league so I can’t really offer much advice, but am happy to discuss the pros and cons. What I know for sure is it requires much bigger space, more expensive equipment and way more expensive licensing/franchising fees.

Thinking about opening one of these?
Arena Scale VR…Look mom, no strings


This is a question that always comes up. I can only speak for electrical here in the U.S. but there isn’t any fancy demands at all. Just typical outlets work fine. You will need a total of 5 outlets per booth. The Vive, The Computer, The TV and 2 Lighthouses. The lighthouses are normally diagonal from each other so you will need to keep that in mind. Get yourself a power strip with a surge protector for the computer, vive and TV and you should be all set.

Didn’t get enough from this post? Check out 5 More Things VR Arcade Owners Must Consider. It’s part 2 of the original post I wrote a few months back. Some of what is in those posts is covered here, but with a different take on it.

Are there questions you have that didn’t get answered? Ask away.

Want to talk to me directly, find me on Skype as trybean or send me an e-mail.

Be sure to check out our Facebook Page for all kinds of VR and a little bit of AR information.

Wow…this was long. Are you still here?

You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here 😉

5 More Things VR Arcade Owners Must Consider

Helping New and Future VR Arcade Owners

So this part two of a blogpost that would have been waaaayyyyyyy too long for one post. If you want to see the first five things I suggest, you should click over to 5 Things VR Arcade Owners Must Consider.
Since the list isn’t in any specific order you can stay here and read these five first:
VR Arcade Marketing Ideas
Marketing for your VR Arcade

6. How you will market your VR Arcade

It doesn’t really matter what your business is…you have GOT TO figure out how you will let the public know about it. Virtual Reality Arcades have it easy. Why? Because it’s sooooo visual. There are plenty of cool pix and great videos already on the web. As if that wasn’t enough you can always create new content every time a new customer comes in (be sure to get them to sign the video release form).

Setup a YouTube channel. Make sure you have a Facebook place/page setup. Instagram and Snapchat can both be great vehicles to gain exposure for your new attraction as well. Make sure you have an e-mail newsletter and SMS Marketing solution too. I could go on, but you should check out this post about Social Media Mastery for FECs for now.

7. VR Arcade Management Software

VR Arcade Management Software can be something as simple as a “Game Clock” and as complicated as the tracking of each play by game, by booth, by day and making sure the developers are paid for their work.  That last part is important and will be the reason some VR Arcades get shut down…not paying their game licensing fees. A good software can also provide you with a leaderboard, a rewards program, an in goggle game selector and more. Actually, if you want to check out a good VR Arcade Management Software, you could just click that link. We’ve got you covered.
We can help!!
Please Operate Your VR Arcade Legally

8. Are you going to operate your VR Arcade legally?

This is just between us. You don’t have to answer or comment, but you do need to think about this…seriously. IF you are running a VR Arcade and NOT paying for the minutes that your customers rack up you are doing one of two things:
1. You’re only offering your customers FREE experiences which is better than nothing, but certainly not giving them the best available.
2. You are cheating the system.
Video Games are a lot like movies. You can’t just go to best buy, pick up a blue ray disk and then start selling tickets to people to come watch. Go read point #7 again about how our software helps with licensing.
What’s not to love?

9. How do you get more referral business

The single best way to get more referrals is to ask for them. When do you ask? When people are at the height of excitement. AKA right after they finish their time having a blast in your place. But here’s the thing, it’s awkward to be like “can you refer 10 of your friends who might like to come play”. An easier approach is to encourage people to share their experience on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or others. Simply have them write a post and tag themselves at your location and give them a pretzel, or a cookie, or 3 tokens or 2 minutes of VR or whatever you want. You will be amazed at how often people do this. Especially if you give them their “gift” on their next visit. See what we did there?
Oh yeah, and of course our software has a rewards program…see point 7.
Speaking of things to love…

10. What will you charge for your VR Arcade?

Man, isn’t this the $100 question on the list? Well, maybe not $100, but like $60…for an hour. I can’t tell you what to charge but hopefully I can give you some ideas. VR Junkies, our sister company and largest VR Arcade group in the U.S. charges $1.00 a minute and $45.00 an hour if they buy in bulk. I’ve heard of other groups charging $25.00 for an 8 minutes experience and I’ve seen places do $10 for 20 minutes. You’ve really got to know your demographics. It makes sense to set your price and give people 2 for 1 time for their first experience. That way you’ve set your value AND rewarded the early adopters. It’s always easy to lower your prices…raising them is another story.

So that’s 10 things you need to be thinking about.  Okay, well it’s 10 if you went to the other post called 5 Things VR Arcade Owners Must Consider.

What did you learn?

What did I miss?

What will you do differently?

From Arcades to VR Arcade


Remember when Space Invaders hit in 1978?

It was the biggest game since Monopoly and it turns out it was basically nothing compared to others in the arcade space.

Because when Pac Man (Fun Online Pac Man Game You Can Play After You Read This) was released in 1980 it took the world by storm. There were shirts,  cartoons and even a song dedicated to that little ghost eating pellet muncher.

By 1981 video games were most everywhere you wanted to be. Restaurants had them in their bars and lobbies. Bowling alleys had them in their own rooms. That hotel you stayed at better have had an arcade near the pool. Even movie theaters got into the act because families arrived before showtime so their kids could play. Soon individual arcades began to spring up everywhere.

Kids were bugging parents for quarters and tokens to play Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac Man. Blisters on thumbs was the new normal. It’s no doubt you’ve played at least one of these classics, and if you’re over 40, your first time may very well have been a life altering experience.

Arcades of the 80s

Well, that was then…

What’s NOW is definitely mind-bending. Imagine being transported to some of the greatest sites on our planet via Google Earth in VR.  You can literally float over the Golden Gate Bridge or the Sphinx of Giza. If that’s not your thing, how about an underwater adventure where you come eyeball to eyeball with a ginormous blue whale? You can learn just how afraid of heights you and your friends are when you see who dares to walk out on Richie’s Plank. Or maybe you just want to shoot up a bunch of zombies...don’t forget to look behind you.

As of now, the equipment is too expensive for the average person to justify. This is why VR arcades are going to be HUGE beginning in 2017.

That was then this is now
Old School Arcades vs. New School VR Arcades

Why VR Arcades NOW?!

2016 was a banner year for the Virtual Reality industry. The year started off with plenty of fresh VR users who received the Samsung Gear VR (released November 27, 2015) as a must have gift for the holidays. But this was simply a coming attraction for the big releases to come.

The two heavyweights in the industry, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive  were each released within a week of March 30 and ready to do battle. Both of these head mounted displays provided for greater immersion than the Samsung model which is superior to Google Cardboard.

The timing was great  because over the past 5-10 years the computer hardware industry had created processors that were fast enough to support this new reality that had been developing since the 1960’s.

Game developers around the globe have been dreaming of building game worlds in Virtual Reality and now they finally can. New games hit the market almost daily and you never know what will come next. The amount of new titles that have been added to the Steam VR library is quite impressive.  The four items mentioned above are a small taste. There are well over 500 experiences created as of this writing.

Looking for Early Adopters

Those places that jumped on  the arcade bandwagon by 1981 did well for themselves.  We’re at the beginning of a gaming revolution that will make Pac Man Fever look like a common cold.

We told you earlier that we want to make the process of setting up your own virtual reality arcade business an easy one. Let’s start with some questions:

  • Does your venue pride itself on providing cutting edge experiences?
  • Can you attract customers between the ages of 12 and 50?
  • Are you looking to replace an under-performing attraction?
  • Do you have between 800-1000 sq ft available? (doesn’t have to be contiguous)
  • Would older siblings spend money if you had something for them to do?
  • Would you like to add six figures worth of revenue?

If you answered yes and are interested in reading what we do, click HERE. Otherwise send us a note and we will call you soon.