Sandbox VR, the out-of-home virtual reality destination, went through a rough patch this past year as the company both filed and subsequently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy following debt restructure. With the United States doing fairly well in terms of COVID-19 vaccinations now, the company appears confident in getting back to business as usual soon, as it plans to open a new location at the Grand Canal Shoppes inside The Venetian Resort, Las Vegas, in addition to operating 15 locations worldwide by the year’s end.
The Las Vegas location is slated to open in “the early summer of 2021,” the company says. Due to the pandemic, Sandbox VR was forced to close all of its locations and lay off most of its staff.
Its rebound strategy is one that may become fairly common in the coming months for battered (but not dead) businesses, namely Sandbox VR aims to fill commercial real estate locations that have also been hit hard by the pandemic.
Thankfully, the company is comparatively lean, as its multiplayer VR locations don’t need require elaborate 4D sensorial gadgetry like its ill-fated competitor, The VOID.
The VOID had to permanently close all of their locations worldwide—including its flagship store at the Grand Canal Shoppes—when the company encountered similar financial trouble last year. There’s little hope of The VOID getting back on its feet either. The company’s website is down mere months after Disney abandoned it entirely, and its holding company isn’t showing any appreciable signs of life.
Sandbox VR on the other hand is portraying a fair bit of optimism now that vaccines are being administered en masse. The company says it’s seen a 30% increase in demand from before the pandemic at their current locations outside of Chicago, Illinois and in Austin, Texas since local governments lifted restrictions.
“We have been incredibly fortunate to have been able to survive such a devastating year for everyone in the retail and entertainment industry,” said Steve Zhao, founder and CEO of Sandbox VR. “The pandemic has been so isolating for everyone that we are confident once it is safe to gather with friends and family from different households they will be looking for social experiences that offer some fun and escape from the difficulties that 2020 brought.”
It may be a long time until beleaguered VR arcades see pre-COVID levels of support, but with one of the most well-funded VR startups out releasing such a broad opening gambit, others may take heart in knowing there is money to be made in the near future.