IMAX has officially announced that it will be shutting down its last three virtual reality arcades in Los Angeles, Bangkok and Toronto early next year, and is writing off its VR business as well.
VR arcades were supposed to be one of the first, most convenient ways that expensive VR tech would reach the masses.
According to an IMAX spokeperson:
“With the launch of the IMAX VR centre pilot program our intention was to test a variety of different concepts and locations to determine which approaches work well. After a trial period with VR centres in multiplexes, we have decided to conclude the IMAX VR centre pilot program and close the remaining three locations in Q1 2019,” reads the company’s statement.
Rocky Road for VR
VR film company Jaunt pivoted to augmented reality in October. Microsoft did away with its promises to bring VR to the Xbox in June, while camera maker Lytro closed shop in March.
IMAX has been scaling back VR for a while now, actually. It canceled a VR camera project with Google in August, and shut down its other four arcades earlier this year.
Last week, StarVR — which supplies headsets to IMAX — was shutting down its developer program due to an apparent bout of financial trouble and “uncertainties with our key overseas shareholder”. It’s not clear if those issues may have affected IMAX or vice versa.
So, what do all these mean for VR moving forward? Things aren’t looking good it seems.