While not a retail store – yet – Croydon’s Limitless-VR has the look of a trendsetting consumer establishment. Often lumped in among London’s first batch of modern “VRcades” (or virtual reality arcades), it has proven in its first year-plus of operation to be more than just a gaming centre. This makes us wonder if its popularity is only just beginning to rise, as well as what more this venue or others like it could have to offer in the near future.
What Is Limitless-VR?
If you were to read a straight-up description of Limitless-VR, you’d get the impression that it’s a public VR gaming facility, similar to an arcade. However, this particularly venue strives to be more than just another dingy arcade, or an imitation of the now-obsolete video game centres of the ‘90s. Limitless-VR, as one review put it, “aims instead to provide a relaxed and primarily social atmosphere” where people can sample the latest VR games that they might not be able to play at home. In other words, this is a VRcade – it just doesn’t necessarily look like one. There’s an open, relaxed, coffee-shop aesthetic, and in fact there are beverage and snack options as well. At a typical VRcade (to the extent that this newish concept can be typical yet), the focus is very individual; here, the vibe is that people are meant to socialise and take turns trying different games for more of a shared experience.
Is There A Retail Opportunity?
Typically we wouldn’t look at a VRcade and wonder about retail, but in the case of Limitless-VR there could in fact be an opportunity for it to double as a store. In fact Limitless-VR’s website already has a “shop” tab, and though it’s primarily for selling gaming packages and gifts, one could imagine it expanding to include a few products. It’s enough of an open, multi-faceted place to support a retail component, so it wouldn’t be at all shocking to see Limitless-VR selling a few things (VR equipment, merchandise relating to the games, its own apparel, etc.) in the near future.
Where More Could The VR Go?
Limitless-VR is not a huge venue but it does well maximising its space, and thus stands to easily implement new VR experiences as they become available. There will be hundreds if not thousands of new VR experiences in the coming years, so we can’t say for sure what could be added, but there are a few areas to watch for. One is casino gaming. The UK tends to be a leader in this particular entertainment space, in everything from game design to payment methods. Today’s virtual casino enthusiasts can now find an endless variety of games online, pay their deposits through their phone bills, and play with lightning-quick convenience in all sorts of convincing virtual settings. There’s constant innovation, and VR is a very natural next step, and one that the UK will likely lead the way with. Another area to watch is sports. Right now VR sports options are fairly limited, but with high-end equipment and proper space, Limitless-VR is poised to welcome any sophisticated sports VR games that could come its way.
What About The Space Itself?
From a purely visual standpoint, Limitless-VR did not get off to the best start for a new, should-be trendy location. For much of its short life on the High Street in Croydon it’s been obscured by scaffolding. Now, however, it’s starting to look like it could be a nice spot. The area has been cleaned up, and recently it was announced that the High Street will be pedestrianised permanently. This has already been partially done and businesses have indicated that it’s been good for them, so we can effectively say that Limitless-VR, without moving, is now in a better location than it was when it first opened. This, plus the fact that (as the aforementioned review noted) it’s in the middle of a number of very trendy types of shops, sets up the near future quite well for Limitless-VR.
Given all of the above – the unique venue, the potential in retail and VR innovations, and the improving location – it could be that we’ll look back on Limitless-VR as a real trendsetter in the early days of public VR in London.