MAPPING OUT A NEW REALITY
US VR Global is transforming conventional theme park concepts into digital playgrounds of the future.
From the invention of the stereoscope in 1838 to the Pokémon Go phenomenon in 2016, innovations in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have always been distinctive indicators of just how far technology has come. Now forming a commercial force to be reckoned with, a 2016 report by AR/VR consultancy Digi-Capital put the total global revenue generated by the industry at US$3.9 billion with VR contributing the biggest share at US$ 2.7 billion. By 2021, Digi-Capital expects the numbers to rise to an estimated US$108 billion.
But while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg continues to champion the VR system, Occulus Rift; and Apple’s Tim Cook waxes eloquent on the latent potential of AR, Southeast Asia’s thought leaders are still conspicuously missing from the mix. Turning this discrepancy to a thing of the past is US VR Global Inc, a Born Global Company that has created a turnkey, highly scalable, multi-faceted and modular theme park franchise ideal for rapid international expansion. With an impending stock listing in early 2018, the company’s flagship theme park, Hero Central, is set to put the region on the mixed reality entertainment map.
A VR Destination
Headed by the executive team behind Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) and R-Segari Group Sdn Bhd, US VR Global was founded in 2017 with the aim of developing and operating a dynamic, hybrid indoor theme park concept as a new generation digital playground. While traditional theme parks still primarily offer conventional rides and attractions, US VR Global’s concept is designed entirely around VR and AR technology which will include holograms and 4D motion arenas to provide immersive and uniquely stimulating experiences.
Taking its first step forward, the company’s recently launched flagship VR park, Hero Central, will open its doors to the public by mid-2018. Located in the soon to be completed Empire City Damansara Shopping Mall in Selangor, Malaysia, the park will occupy a whopping 170,000 sq ft of space, with a projected annual footfall of 1.3 million visitors – making it one of the largest VR parks in the world. Bringing together some of the best names in the business, the park will feature attractions by market leaders in the entertainment industry and some of the most sought-after intellectual properties (IP). This combination of strong strategic partnerships, cutting-edge technology and hands-on industry professionals with intimate knowledge of Asian markets is poised to not only make Hero Central a new global destination, but also thrust the company into the forefront of the Asian VR market place.
Unlike conventional theme park attractions, US VR Global’s concept is designed entirely around VR and AR technology, including holograms and 4D motion arenas.
Having seen resounding success with MAPS, the first animation based theme park in Asia which commenced operation in June 2017, the company’s executive team is also currently embarking on another integrated theme park attraction in Malacca, Malaysia, which will be operated by the R-Segari Group. Increasingly identified as pioneers in theme park entertainment in Malaysia, the team’s experience has given them strategic foresight into US VR’s growth in the region. For starters, the company deliberately avoided locating the park in the more affluent Hong Kong or Singapore to tap into the enormous growth opportunity of emerging countries in the region. Areas with low per capital income offer lower initial investment barriers while also providing the opportunity to recover the investment quickly. With this in mind, the company’s strategy will involve focusing its attention in the ASEAN region and eventually looking farther afield to China, the Middle East and the US.
A Park For Everyone
Another strategic element to US VR Global’s concept is the ability to fast-track the parks set up process by targeting completed or about-to-complete malls. As retail continues to evolve into a blend of lifestyle and entertainment, such parks will be well suited for shopping malls and will employ a flexible model with a highly scalable, modular approach. This adaptability to plans and design will allow seamless integration into any site and will generate economies of scale suitable for potential operators through a detailed and fully supported licensing model. The parks will also keep their ticketing at affordable rates so as to cater to patrons from all market segments and represent significant value for money.
Considering this model, the next 3-4 years will see US VR Global aiming to launch about 20 VR Theme Parks and 200 VR Arcades throughout the Asian region. With an IPO on the horizon, the company has claimed a deluge of enquiries from mall developers as well as intellectual property owners. The company is currently reviewing the proposals in detail as they gear up for a year of exponential growth and the launch of what may arguably be the world’s largest digital playground.
This article was first published in the MillionaireAsia Issue 46 - November 2017