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Beat Saber pulled from VR Arcades: Who is to blame?

ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 15,429 Valuable Player
I see this making some waves:

Facebook-owned Beat Saber is getting cut from VR arcades.


The commercial licensing page for Beat Saber is gone as of this writing and we’ve heard multiple reports from arcades that one of their most popular games is being pulled from their locations during what’s already been a devastating period due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The licensing page for Beat Saber originally explained how to get a version of the game authorized for use by businesses charging a fee to customers in order to play one of VR’s most popular titles. The page resided at “Beatsaber.com/arcade” and, if you’re curious, you can read a version as it was captured by the Internet Archive last month.


There's not much other info that lends to the decision behind this. For example, is this happening because fewer and fewer Arcade owners were keeping up with the licensing cost? I imagine it would be difficult due to the impact the Pandemic is having on all local business.

Or is this happening because Facebook is changing Beat Saber's business model now that they own the company? Is this perhaps something related to Facebook's advocacy for Social Distancing amidst the Pandemic?
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Comments

  • Digikid1Digikid1 Posts: 2,309 Valuable Player
    Wait.....FACEBOOK owns Beat Saber now?

    *spits*
  • wuzpwuzp Posts: 320
    Trinity
    As an $FB shareholder, this makes sense to me.  FB bought Beat Saber in November 2019.  Many of the existing licenses were perhaps not favorable to the new owners (FB).  And with the recent politicization of ad placement on FB proper, it's only fair that FB "kick the dog," so to speak; in an effort to gain more revenue from its existing assets.
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 15,429 Valuable Player
    I own some FB shares as well, but I'm not exactly sure how we would link the two together.

    I do see a potential for a policy violation, as you mentioned. Zuckerberg live streams to Facebook quite often, with messages about Covid and the Pandemic. Zuckerberg and Facebook are 100% committed to remote business, remote education, work-from-home, and social distancing. From that perspective, it would make sense for them to cancel any business licenses that entice people to violate that policy by physically congregating together.

    On the other hand, I can also see a case where VR Arcade owners were not paying their bills, or maybe even violating agreements (e.g. downloading Custom Songs without paying for them), which could have lead to this decision.

    Granted, it could be a combination of multiple things. 
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • kevinw729kevinw729 Posts: 5,227 Valuable Player
    edited June 28

    Interesting, never came across the Swiss Society of VR and AR before – looks an interesting bunch, though sadly they may have jumped to some assumptions in their reporting, and what they cut out of the Upload original copy.

    As would be expected this is a much more nuanced situation, and though having a lot to do with the future of Enterprise investment in entertainment is not as black and white as some may try and paint it.

    The danger of jumping to assumptions is obvious, as is claiming that arcade owners were not keeping up with licensing – sources confirmed that before lockdown Beat Games saw particularly good revenue from the title in LBE and the cross-over tournaments.

    There is also a misconception that Beat Saber was only licensed to VR arcades – there are actually other VR amusement platforms based on the game, and they will keep on selling / operating under their own license.

    Regarding speculation on Facebook's advocacy for Social Distancing – this again was shot down when communicating with those involved in the decision, making it clear it was a move by Beat Games. Attempts to paint VR arcade as dead post Lockdown should look to those sites that have already opened in the West.

    One last observation on the piece, SSVAR mixed up the consumer licensed music with the vanilla LBE VR licensed version. There are no custom packs on the LBE version – and this version for this sector is fully license supported.

    While SSVAR may have been unable to speak to anyone from Beat Games, we have been able, and their official statement will be run in VRFocus tomorrow. But I can relay this comment that they undertook the move as to assess the legal and technical issues so that they may present a more native product for the LBE market – we look forward to reporting on their new plans shortly.

    urdgfqqehbbb.png
    ** Second New Book **
    "The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities"
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Home-Immersive-Entertainment-Frontier/dp/1472426959
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 15,429 Valuable Player
    Remember that asking questions is not the same thing as making assumptions. The danger of accusing everything of being an assumption is not understanding the difference between a conversation and an accusation.

    That being said, at least one source has reported that one or more Arcade owners had hacked their commercial Beat Saber software to include custom songs. It's not that hard to do really, so one should not make assumptions that a mere license would prevent this.




    There are also other valid sources discussing the VR Arcade closures that have happened due to Covid19. It should be obvious that when a VR Arcade closes, they would not renew their licensing. This would definitely impact any reported revenue.

    VR closures have been officially reported in the US, China, and Japan so far.

    https://www.protocol.com/location-based-vr-covid-19

    VR centers and arcades were growing quickly before the pandemic. Now, the industry is seeing furloughs, layoffs and pivots.


    The COVID-19 crisis hit most tech companies hard, but it buried Sandbox VR. "We went from a relatively healthy business," CEO Steve Zhao said, "to zero revenue." Sandbox was operating 10 VR centers in North America and Asia that allowed groups of customers to step into virtual worlds. Every one had to close due to shelter-in-place orders. "Literally, 100% of the revenue is gone," Zhao said.


    At the end of April, Sandbox laid off 80% of its staff. Among the departures were then-CEO Siqi Chen and many of the company's key developers. 


    Sandbox VR is not alone in its struggles. Numerous operators of VR centers and arcades, including The Void, Dreamscape, Zero Latency and Spaces, have been forced to shut down their retail locations amid the pandemic and are now facing major financial and logistical challenges. 

    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • kevinw729kevinw729 Posts: 5,227 Valuable Player

    urdgfqqehbbb.png
    ** Second New Book **
    "The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities"
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Home-Immersive-Entertainment-Frontier/dp/1472426959
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 15,429 Valuable Player
    edited June 29

    I don't think anyone is saying that the Industry is dead. But clearly the pandemic is impacting the businesses that have been officially reported. I'm sure it can be hard news to digest for anyone who is hoping to see this Industry thrive, but hard facts can't be denied.

    I'm sure the VR Arcade industry will get back on track once the pandemic is over. Somewhere around 2021/2022.
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • snowdogsnowdog Posts: 7,634 Valuable Player
    The problem with VR Arcades is that by the time that this is all over there'll be more VR headsets in homes when they eventually reopen.

    This is why I said a while back that this is a way to earn a good few quid in the beginning and then sell up after 2 or 3 years. The same thing was done by many entrepreneurs investing in Internet Cafes before broadband was widely adopted by people at home.

    I was one of those that wanted to start an Internet Cafe back when there was only TWO of these things in the whole of London but I couldn't get the funding together. I'm still kicking myself now 😡🤬😡😭
    "This you have to understand. There's only one way to hurt a man who's lost everything. Give him back something broken."

    Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever
  • bertyboy22bertyboy22 Posts: 2
    NerveGear
    Digikid1 said:
    Wait.....FACEBOOK owns Beat Saber now?

    *spits*
    This is pretty bad, hopefully they don't start auto sharing each new high score. Gross.
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 15,429 Valuable Player
    edited June 30
    Sharing Beat Sabres scores is considered a "problem" when we're literally in the midst of a global pandemic? lmao


    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • kevinw729kevinw729 Posts: 5,227 Valuable Player
    edited June 30
    snowdog said:
    The problem with VR Arcades is that by the time that this is all over there'll be more VR headsets in homes when they eventually reopen.

    This is why I said a while back that this is a way to earn a good few quid in the beginning and then sell up after 2 or 3 years. The same thing was done by many entrepreneurs investing in Internet Cafes before broadband was widely adopted by people at home.

    I was one of those that wanted to start an Internet Cafe back when there was only TWO of these things in the whole of London but I couldn't get the funding together. I'm still kicking myself now 😡🤬😡😭

    As always a spirited and passionate observation - thanks for sharing again.

    I have to remember that originally the feeling was back in 2016 that there was never going to be a VR arcade business - "it would not be a thing" was one repeated quote I remember on the forum. Then I remember the VR arcades are just a fad, "when CV1 sales get going, after the false start, each home will have one and so will not need to go to those places!" [paraphrased]

    Yes I remember the pivot to the "oh it will only last a few years, better get in and out, make some money" [paraphrased] comments. Or my favorite "HTC will collapse this year and that will be the end of those using VIVES in their arcades"[paraphrased] comments. I understand LBE VR is difficult for some in the community to understand, and while its hard pressed like the restaurant, retail, travel, tourism, hotel, and airline industries, it is not a death-knell but a call to rebirth.  

    Well as I have always been in this for the long run, I agree that no matter the current situation in the Lockkdown landscape, the reality is that the market will re-emerge building on the benefits and successes achieved. One games removal by a miss guided business decision forced on it by its new owners is not the end of the world. With the news of the reopening of VR arcades and brand new products like the latest Arena Scale releases [video] are examples of what this market can do and consumer VR only hopes to emulate.

    urdgfqqehbbb.png
    ** Second New Book **
    "The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities"
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Home-Immersive-Entertainment-Frontier/dp/1472426959
  • wuzpwuzp Posts: 320
    Trinity
    snowdog said:
    The problem with VR Arcades is that by the time that this is all over there'll be more VR headsets in homes when they eventually reopen.

    This is why I said a while back that this is a way to earn a good few quid in the beginning and then sell up after 2 or 3 years. The same thing was done by many entrepreneurs investing in Internet Cafes before broadband was widely adopted by people at home.

    I was one of those that wanted to start an Internet Cafe back when there was only TWO of these things in the whole of London but I couldn't get the funding together. I'm still kicking myself now 😡🤬😡😭
    Remember payphones?  :D
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 15,429 Valuable Player
    wuzp said:
    Remember payphones?  :D 


    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • QVR-DudeQVR-Dude Posts: 31
    Brain Burst
    The ones to blame are the kids who put it in there in the first place.  VR arcades offer first and foremost the physical space to move naturally.  Beat Saber is largely a stationary experience.  Why would anyone go to a VR arcade to play something like that?  It should never have been put in there.  How often to people playing Beat Saber at home complain about physical space constraints- maybe some do, but hardly ever, right?
  • wuzpwuzp Posts: 320
    Trinity
    QVR-Dude said:
    The ones to blame are the kids who put it in there in the first place.  VR arcades offer first and foremost the physical space to move naturally.  Beat Saber is largely a stationary experience.  Why would anyone go to a VR arcade to play something like that?  It should never have been put in there.  How often to people playing Beat Saber at home complain about physical space constraints- maybe some do, but hardly ever, right?
    For the same reason(s) we all dumped quarters into the Pong machine.
  • AlienokAlienok Posts: 5
    NerveGear
    It's interesting!
  • ZenbaneZenbane Posts: 15,429 Valuable Player
    My main complaint with playing Beat Saber at the Arcade (I tried it a few times) was the huge cable locked to the HMD. It was very uncomfortable and heavy. When I went down to duck, to avoid a flying obstacle, it yanked the HMD up my face. Taking time to try to fix it caused me to miss a ton of blocks. Total sheit experience.
    Are you a fan of the Myst games? Check out my Mod at http://www.mystrock.com/
    Catch me on Twitter: twitter.com/zenbane
  • kevinw729kevinw729 Posts: 5,227 Valuable Player
    edited July 1
    Now that this post looks at the "blame game" we can deal with the meat of the subject - the lack of support for a market. Those with some influence in this can be listed thus:

    - Beat Games - wanted to pull out as licensing and dev hard and focusing on Quest
    - Facebook - aversion to commercial entertainment for undefined reason

    The reasoning for Facebook aversion to LBE VR and VR arcade can be seen in the mess made of the Oculus for Business move, and the sudden dropping of promised plans, and the "departure" of those involved. That said Oculus has had "involvement" in LBE VR - supplying headsets to TheVOID, Dreamscape and SandboxVR to name three - but still at arms length, and under much mystry. 

    The hope is that Beat Games will be able to return to VR arcade with a new package. And anyway, the common mistake made that Beat Saber has been removed from commercial entertainment has been made - and is wrong, as can be seen by these products still on the market and currently in operation!



    urdgfqqehbbb.png
    ** Second New Book **
    "The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities"
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Home-Immersive-Entertainment-Frontier/dp/1472426959
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