Participants will be able to choose to compete in multiple titles: Project Cars, Elite: Dangerous, Superhot VR, Omni Arena VR and The Lab — Archery.
To compete, players must purchase a ticket, which includes admission, entry fee to any one of the 5 tournaments, a drink, and access to an afterparty in the Lab’s outdoor space and bar area.
Although other VR tournaments have taken place in the past year or so, most recently the Unspoken VR Tournament Finals held at Microsoft’s NYC headquarters, this is the first I’m aware of that will include divisions on multiple advanced motion simulators.
The winner of each division will receive a cash prize. Tickets went on sale this past weekend.
Hubneo opened in June of this year as a combination VR arcade / simulator test lab that offers four different types of simulator experiences, each of which will be used for at least one game division:
- Racing rig, for Project Cars
- Flight rig, for Elite Dangerous
- Omni-walk, for Omni Arena
- Untethered room-scale, for Superhot VR, The Lab — Archery
The variety and sophistication of Hubneo’s simulator offerings makes it a little unique in the VR arcade market — some, if not most, arcades are really just a storefront with a handful of HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headsets with 10–12 titles each, and maybe some Gear VR for variety. To some extent, that has been enough to churn the waters of the public’s interest.
After all, this is the nascent age of VR arcades; consumer interest is bubbling, but the hardware is still cost prohibitive (Oculus’ recently extended Rift + Touch bundle summer sale not withstanding), so even hardcore traditional platform and PC gamers have been reluctant to invest in a high-end system like Vive or Rift, and then the cost games and content on top of that.
VR arcade patronage is more practical and economical for those users, and for the still more who are interested in experimenting with VR while still discounting it as fringe novelty, a medium too superfluous to warrant being a fixture of their lives.
However, as the hardware becomes more affordable and as demand and interest rises, offering consumer-intended headsets for rent doesn’t promise to be a burgeoning business model for very long. Cockpit simulators and PvP treadmills, on the other hand, are probably less likely to be at-home additions for the next several years.
Another, and perhaps the most important, differentiator of Hubneo’s is that it has a research and development team, and that team is partnered with NYC metal fabrication and prototyping shop Gotham Machine. Together, they produce a number of actual, customized simulators available for patrons to use for VR gameplay and experiences at the Lab. Their website explains:
Your feedback is used to build even more advanced systems. That is why our Manhattan studio is called The Lab; part VR center, part open-source testing facility.
Hubneo VR Lab is located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 114 Suffolk Street.
Update: An original version of this article listed EVE: Valkyrie in the tournament. As of August 16 11:40am, EVE: Valkyrie has been removed from the lineup due to time constraints.