TOKYO -- Virtual Reality startup Zero Latency is joining forces with Sega Japan and its Sega Live Creation subsidiary to create a hi-tech entertainment facility in Tokyo. The new attraction, which is opening in the Joypolis family entertainment center, in time for its 20th anniversary, will be a permanent fixture at the Tokyo venue.
As described in initial reports, the "warehouse-size" facility will resemble a laser tag center with patrons renting Zero Latency's hardware. Unlike laser tag arenas, the facility will feature no physical obstacles. Instead, players react to a virtual world seen through goggles as they "free roam" through the nearly empty space.
"Inviting customers to experience warehouse-scale free-roam VR in Japan together with one of the world's most iconic entertainment brands is a dream come true," says Zero Latency chief executive Tim Ruse. "We are excited about this world first project, and also about the future of our partnership."
OH, JOY! This month, Sega is opening its Zero Latency's "free-roam" VR attraction in Tokyo's mega-FEC Joypolis. The game will be a permanent feature.
What distinguishes Zero Latency technology from standard consumer VR technology is its wireless capabilities that allow users to move over a wide area without physical tethers to a central processing unit. The sophisticated hardware used for processing VR effects are carried by players themselves in military-style backpacks.
"When we first tried the Zero Latency experience we were blown away," said Sega Live Creation executive vice-president Kazuhiko Hayami. "We knew we were witnessing the birth of a new medium, and we wanted to be involved straight away."
The system accommodates teams of up to six players to face off. However, that gameplay format could change as the technology matures. "We are only at the early stages of understanding what free-roam VR is capable of," Hayami said. "It's one of the most exciting technologies coming to market today."
While the initial offering at Joypolis will be Zero Latency's zombie-themed shoot'em up adventure, the company will be opening up game development to third-parties later this year. That could spur development of a wide range of games and themes.
That Sega Japan chose Zero Latency for its new attraction is hardly a surprise. The company has garnered worldwide buzz since opening the doors to its VR entertainment venue in Melbourne in August 2015. To date, the venue has hosted more than 10,000 players. And it was recently voted one of the Top 10 Innovative Gaming companies by Fast Company. Zero Latency has also captured the imagination of the "out of home" entertainment industry by providing a "free roam" VR experience that cannot be duplicated on such systems as Oculus Rift or the recently introduced Sony PlayStation VR system.
OUT-OF-HOME EXPERIENCE: The Zero Latency "free-roam" platform features technology and gameplay experience that isn't easily or affordably duplicated in home VR systems such as Oculus Rift.