A few months ago we reported that UK videogame retailer, GAME, had started charging for demos of the PlayStation VR headset. The move was heavily criticized but, instead of abandoning it, the store seems to have doubled down on the concept.
GAME this week announced a new location-based initiative known as BELONG. Instead of a simple store, these sites also let you experience games at kiosks with high-powered PCs and consoles. It’s the retailer’s attempt at tapping into the lucrative eSports market at a time when physical copies of games face stiff challenge as digitally downloading becomes even more popular. As you might have guessed, VR will also play a big part in this new initiative.
The company has confirmed to UploadVR that VR headsets feature in seven BELONG sites across the UK. Outlets at Hull, Trafford Centre, Wardour Street, Portsmouth, Cribbs and Metrocentre each have HTC Vive and PS VR units, while one in Milton Keynes also has a PS VR.
As with the previous PS VR setup, you can pay £5 (about $6.16) to play for 10 minutes, and £15 (about $18.48) to play for 30 minutes. If you then decide to purchase a headset, you’ll have the cost of the session deducted from the price.
Previously, GAME told us that payment for these experiences went towards employing staff that would maintain the kiosks. PS VR maker Sony, meanwhile, said that retailers could run in-store activity “at their own discretion”. It doesn’t look like either will be changing their stance with the introduction of this new initiative.
It sounds a little like a VR arcade, which are becoming an increasingly promising source of revenue for developers through initiatives like Viveport Arcade. We’ve asked the company if there are any plans to pay the makers of the VR content they showcase with this new scheme.
Does setting up dedicated sites for sampling content change your stance on if GAME should be charging to try headsets? Is it so different from a VR arcade?