Sandbox VR opens its first VR arcade in the EU
Sandbox VR is one of the most popular VR arcade chains and is opening its first location in Germany next week.
Sandbox VR was founded in California in 2016 and received a whopping $80 million in venture capital by 2019.
Then came the pandemic: the company had to close its locations in the U.S. and Asia and file for bankruptcy a short time later. But Sandbox VR caught itself and reported another investment of 37 million US dollars at the end of 2021.
The company now has nearly 30 locations in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Many more are in the making, including in Germany.
Sandbox VR comes to the EU
On October 20, 2022, Sandbox VR's first location in Germany will open in Alsfeld in central Hesse. The town is located about 100 kilometers northeast of Frankfurt am Main.
The fact that Sandbox VR is coming to Alsfeld is thanks to Torsten Schneider, who already operates an Escape Room, a laser tag arena and a Hologate arcade with his "Next Level" world of experience. Schneider has been in negotiations with Sandbox VR for a year and will now open the first EU location after extensive construction work. So far, Sandbox VR can only be experienced in London.
The investment costs totaled 1.5 million euros, including the move to a new location and the financing of another future site. The technical equipment alone cost up to 500,000 euros.
"The biggest challenge was to build the system here in Germany, which had previously only been built in other countries around the world, to find all the parts for it, and to convert those to fit Germany," says Schneider.
Freeroam and full body tracking
The Alsfeld site will feature two play areas, known as "Holodecks," each measuring 50 square meters. Each holodeck is designed for up to six players at a time, who can move freely within the playing area. The two groups play separately, but in the future, they will be able to play with or against each other.
Sandbox VR is based on an elaborate camera system that transmits every movement to the VR game via tracking balls on the players' bodies. Every movement of the fingers, hands, and feet can be seen in real-time in virtual reality.
Visitors wear vests for haptic feedback and, depending on the game, a weapon, sword, or shield, which are also spatially tracked. They carry a laptop in a small backpack that sends the movement coordinates to a server.
The site will offer six different VR experiences, each lasting about 35 minutes (not including onboarding). Launching in October are two zombie games, "Deadwood Valley" and "Deadwood Mansion," in which you must survive a zombie invasion.
"UFL" is a street fighting style game, while in "Ambersky 2088" you have to fight your way through a future dystopia. "Curse of Davy Jones" is set in comic book style on a pirate ship. The highlight is a "Star Trek: Discovery" experience, according to Schneider. More games are to be added in the coming years.
Sandbox VR: More locations planned in Germany
The Alsfeld location is just the beginning for Sandbox VR. "First of all, there are more locations planned in Germany - together with us, there will be two more in Hesse. Here we want to go even further in the direction of the Rhine-Main area and another location in southern Hesse, possibly in the catchment area of Mannheim and Heidelberg. By then, we will have built up the necessary know-how to spread Sandbox throughout Europe from Alsfeld," says Schneider.
The price is 50 euros per person on weekends, but is cheaper during the week. The entire experience, including the tutorial, lasts one hour. The price includes a compilation of the best moments from the VR game mixed with reality, which visitors can take home.
Sandbox VR opens at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17. That evening, there will also be an opportunity to learn about the technology and, of course, test Sandbox VR. Schneider recommends reserving seats in advance by phone or online.