Selecting which commercial laser tag equipment to use at your family entertainment center is a big decision. Naturally, you want to choose the best system but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg. This is true for all laser tag sites, but especially for those just starting out–there are significant costs to opening a laser tag business, and equipment is just one of the many line items.
But ask any established laser tag business operator, and they’ll say your commercial laser tag system is one of if not the most important item.
The experience players have at your laser tag center is what will stick with them. If it’s a positive experience–exciting game play, challenging achievements, interactive features, functioning equipment–they’re more likely to come back again and recommend your site to others. However, if it’s a neutral or worse, negative experience–simple fixed teams, one-time scoring, plain battlesuits, damaged equipment–there’s very little chance they’ll come back for repeat play.
Lower-end laser tag systems are what typically deliver these negative experiences. These cheap systems that simply allow players to zap each other may save you money upfront, but they’ll cost you in the long run on maintenance fees and parts, and limited repeat play opportunities.
Here‘s a breakdown of the four different types of laser tag systems:
Let’s discuss the key aspects of a high-end or next-gen system to see where the real costs shake out:
Laser Tag Battlesuit & Phaser Design
Low-end laser tag systems include two pieces of color-coordinated equipment–a chest piece and a blaster. The infrared receiver in the chest piece captures the light emitted from the blaster. Often the blaster will make sounds and the chest piece will light up when tagged. And that’s the extent of the illumination and interactivity.
High-end or next-gen professional laser tag equipment will have innovative and interactive features built into the more advanced battlesuits and phasers. The comfortable and stylish battlesuits have large chest screens with customizable features and in-game animations, 360-degree independent hit zones, and stunning infinity lighting woven into the fabric. The phasers are also more advanced and interactive, with better lighting effects and hit detection, touch screens for game customization, and beam selection for new gameplay options. All of these elements will result in a more exciting and more habit-forming experience for players.
Laser Tag Software
There’s not much to say about low-end laser tag software. Point, zap, score. That’s it. There are no elements that allow you to engage and incentivize players or help you run your business.
A high-end system offers a wealth of features and benefits that not only make the play more exciting and addictive for players, but make the day-to-day operations more efficient for you. Next-gen laser tag software can provide you with operational stats on daily and weekly throughput and make recommendations for improvements. It can also be your control room for managing arena haze, sound and lighting, your game editor for adjusting game length or creating new game types, and your laser tag membership management tool for showcasing scores and tracking achievements.
Laser Tag Game Selection
Low-end systems typically only offer one game type–players go into the arena assigned to one of a handful of team colors and zap each other. Points are scored by zapping others, and a final score sheet is provided for that single game. Simple, yes. Boring, also yes! Perhaps not the first time, but it certainly gets old fast.
Mid-range systems are where you start to see game editors and multiple game types. This can make the depth of play much more interesting. When you get into high-end and next-gen systems, this is where you see numerous game types, advanced role-playing games, competitive team play options and player handicapping. All of these features help to keep your laser tag offering fresh, and allow you to drive new business and repeat play with new game launches, laser tag leagues and tournaments, and tailored games for events and celebrations.
Laserforce currently offers 30+ exciting and immersive game modes, and we’re continually developing and releasing new game types. Space Marines 5 is one of our most popular advanced team games, which is played competitively around the world. Color Conquest is another popular game type that is easy to learn and fun for all ages.
Laser Tag Equipment Maintenance
Low-end laser tag systems are unreliable. Components break, lights stop working, scores don’t record. You can typically expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 USD per year on maintenance costs and new parts. Plus, low-end systems don’t support their older generations of equipment, and frequently release newer versions that you’re forced to purchase if you want a working, supported product. You might call that planned obsolescence, and we would, too!
A higher-end system, on the other hand, requires very little maintenance. In fact, Laserforce has the highest percentage of battlesuit uptime across the industry, which helps to ensure you maintain your player throughput and aren’t wasting precious peak hours fixing issues. And our injection-molded polycarbonate cased battlesuits and phasers are tough–they can survive being slammed by a sledgehammer and run over by a car (trust us, we’ve tested it!). But most importantly, they can survive peak weekend hours! The limited maintenance time and costs alone are enough to make a higher-end system more profitable.
Operator Support & Marketing Assistance
The day you purchase a low-end system is often the first and last time you’ll hear from that company. It’s a one-time transaction–you place your order, receive your product and then you’re left to your own devices to install it, service it, optimize it and market it. And don’t bother asking about software upgrades or new feature releases.
With a high-end or next-gen system, you can expect a high-end service. A company representative will work closely with you through every step of the process, from answering all your questions even before the purchase and providing a complete start-up manual to staff training and ongoing marketing support.
In the case of Laserforce, you can participate in our Support & Upgrade Program (SUP) to receive ongoing system and software updates, superior 24/7 support, discounted parts and inventory pricing, hardware upgrade path, social media integration and other new marketing features, and events for Operators to gain insights, collaborate with peers and stay current on the latest developments in the industry.
In the immortal words of Mr. Kurt Vonnegut: “In this world, you get what you pay for.” (He used it in a slightly different context, but knowing his futuristic and sci-fi slant, we think he’d approve of the connection to laser tag!) As is the case with nearly everything in this world, the short-term savings you get with a low-end laser tag system don’t make up for the ongoing maintenance costs and revenue left on the table.
If you’re ready to ditch your lower-end laser tag equipment or want to open your new site with the best quality system out there, connect with us for a free consultation. Our experienced and knowledgeable laser tag consultants will walk you through each step and answer every question (and we’ll even dispose of your old equipment if upgrading–now that’s full service!). We look forward to helping you drive repeat play and grow your revenue.