When I began playing Escape Rooms just a few years ago I used to say: comparing it to the TV industry we are at the time when it was in black and white and with no sound.
I was right.
The fast expansion of this business complicated things a lot and with that beautiful stimulus called competition
So we are seeing less and less padlocks and more and more technology.
1st Generation of Escape Rooms was pretty basic: a run down room with old grandma`s furniture and a handful of padlocks. They had their charm and at that time it was already exciting enough.
It was a new concept of social fun that doesn’t involve sex, drugs and alcohol… one of the few in this regard.
What can people do together? What kind of team building activities are available? Sure there are a few: movies, bowling, darts, pool, paintball, laser tag are most probably the most popular but people were looking for something more.
The mix of physical skill and logical challenge is a winning idea. It probably is the biggest breakout in the mass entertainment sector of the last decade.
The fact that Escape Games expanded so fast in Central and Western Europe is due to several factors: proximity to one of the first places where these activities became popular (Budapest), cheaper start-up costs compared to Western Europe and it required just to have some creativity and imagination.
I have seen some nice Rooms made with a really tiny investment and a lot of good ideas. This is not working any more. The market rapidly saturated and the players are expecting better quality and wow effects.
2nd generation Escape Rooms:
Games are more mainstream even if still niche market so there are many more people who play therefore more overall money for the industry. This attracted a lot of attention: it is still highly profitable to open games, especially in new markets but to remain profitable it require a lot more work and marketing, better ideas and more technology.
Bigger players entered the market and good money is spent for designs and advertisement.
No more amateurs: now if you want to start a business you should hire professionals. Most people we know that tried to make their own Escape Rooms have failed but most people that purchased Game-play, puzzles and design from a specialized firm
Several TOP clients have their walls built by theatre specialists, audio/video installations set-up by top professionals and make us research and develop new smart, unique and challenging tricks.
In our games we use a vast array of technology enhancing the fun and adventure in this experience.
We use a lot of sensors, switches and triggers. Arduino, rfid and magnetic locks, lasers, sophisticated lights, projectors, sound effects and our firm is already venturing into using Virtual Reality and Holograms.
Some nostalgic players like me might miss the odd padlock but even I cannot deny loving the feeling of being completely absorbed by the atmosphere and effects.
What will the 3rd Generation of Escape Rooms look like?