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

Zenbane
Level 16
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?
18 REPLIES 18

Digikid1
Level 12
Wait.....FACEBOOK owns Beat Saber now?

*spits*

wuzp
Level 8
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.

Zenbane
Level 16
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. 

kevinw729
Level 16

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.

https://vrawards.aixr.org/ "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

Zenbane
Level 16
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.

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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. 

kevinw729
Level 16
fu6dh5k5nzpn.png
https://vrawards.aixr.org/ "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

Zenbane
Level 16

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.

snowdog
Level 16
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

bertyboy22
Level 2

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.