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.
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.
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.
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.
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.