Japanese video game developer and publisher Bandai Namco has opened two new virtual reality (VR) arcades in London and Kent, the first of their kind in the UK.
The VR Zone Portals opened this week, one in London at the O2 and a second in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. The company says there are more to come.
Formed from the merger of the gaming arms of two entertainment companies Bandai and Namco in 2006, the publisher is best known for its popular video and arcade games including Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade and the award winning Dark Souls series. Namco originally gained fame for the making of Pacman and also developing many Mario games for Nintendo.
Gaming is always moving forward and VR is one of the more recent innovations. Multiple publishers are backing this new technology, investing heavily in games that are much more immersive than their two dimensional equivalents. Bandai Namco's VR games include Argyle Shift, Fear of Heights and Hospital Escape Terror. Already popular in the company's Japanese arcades (Bandai Namco owns the largest VR arcade, Shinjuku in Tokyo), these are among the titles available at the new UK locations, according to gamesindustry.biz.
Although VR games are relatively new in the UK, there are some signs that the popularity of this generation of titles may have already peaked in Japan, with the Japanese publishers currently focused on arcade games featuring HD graphics and advanced haptic feedback.
At the annual games exposition JAEPO 2018 last week, the Bandai Namco booth featured no new VR games according to Forbes, despite VR having been a star attraction the previous year. However, in a press release the company was talking up its VR games and the new UK arcades.
"Along with more locations, we will see the VR Zone Portal grow with exciting new IP experiences that allow thrill-seekers to transport themselves to new worlds and experience things they never before believed possible," said a spokesperson for Bandai Namco.
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