Sandbox VR, the location-based VR attraction, announced it’s opening 25 new locations as a result of a partnership with Apparel Group, the United Arab Emirates-based fashion and lifestyle company.

The partnership is described as a “massive franchise deal” with Apparel Group, which has 85 brands and more than 2,200 stores across 14 countries, including much of the Middle East, South East Asia, India, Pakistan, Egypt and South Africa.

The collaboration will begin by opening 25 locations in the Middle East by the end of 2028, Sandbox VR says, owing to what founder and CEO Steve Zhao calls “an overwhelmingly positive response at our locations across the US, Europe, and Asia.”

For now, Sandbox VR operates in over 46 global locations, 18 of which launched in the last 19 months. It has also opened franchising opportunities in the US and internationally.

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“We are excited to embark on this partnership with Sandbox VR, a company that stands at the forefront of virtual reality innovation,” said Neeraj Teckchandani, CEO of Apparel Group. “This collaboration is not just about expanding our portfolio—it’s about creating groundbreaking experiences that merge technology and entertainment, offering our customers in the Middle East and beyond something truly exceptional. Together, we are setting new benchmarks in the retail and entertainment industries.”

Sandbox VR has celebrated a few successful licensing deals over the past year. In September 2023, the company partnered with Netflix to launch a Squid Game-inspired experience, called Squid Game Virtuals. The company says Squid Game Virtuals was its fastest experience to hit $1M in sales, noting that in its first two months the game generated $4.56M in ticket sales.

More recently, Sandbox VR and Netflix did a limited-time takeover of its London location to celebrate the release of Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver, where visitors previewed the world of Rebel Moon in a full-body VR experience.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Yeshaya

    Good for them, but I’m surprised to see them doing so well. I went to one of their arcades a few months ago for a friend’s birthday party. It was fun, did 45 minutes of a dungeon crawler type game, but it was not cost efficient.
    Cost like $50, but (if I didn’t have one already) I could have just bought a Q2 for $250 and used it as much as I wanted.
    My first VR experience was also at a VR arcade, back in 2018 I think, using an HTC Vive. And it was worth it for me because the alternative was buying a gaming PC+Vive, setting up the base stations, etc. So it was good value to rent their stuff for an hour. But now with entry cost so low I figured more people would just take the plunge and buy a Quest to keep. To each their own I guess.

    • gothicvillas

      Was it based on Quest 2? I thought these venues use backpacks with laptops and state of the art VR headsets…

  • XRC

    Never seen anyone in the London branch, and saw no publicity about the recent Netflix/Rebel Moon promotion. Walk past it regularly and it’s very quiet.

    Guess they must be making some money somehow as the New Oxford Street location has been open a while now…

  • ViRGiN

    Looks like “VR arcades” are thriving more than all years of PCVR ever were.