Might the red carpet one day be rolled out for your brand around the world?
One of the most exciting consequences of the Escape Room Directory, and quite possibly a natural extension of the global popularity of the exit game phenomenon, is that it’s easy to identify brands whose reach extends beyond a single country. At this point it’s probably not yet possible to definitively identify the world’s leading exit game brands; if your brand deserves to be in this list and isn’t, please do get in touch with appropriately good-natured abuse. It’s probably worth coming back to this topic every few months to see how the various brands are doing.
This can only ever be a snapshot of how brands are doing at one point in time in October; the industry is so fast-moving that likely many of the brands we feature below will have made considerable progress since then, and your own research as to how each of them has moved on will likely inform your opinion about the true sustained strength and progress of each company, rather than just using a sample size of data from a single point in time.
Real Escape Game are accepted as the progenitors of the genre. The run both Real Escape Game events, which have multiple teams in the same location but still the same time limit, as well as Real Escape Rooms which fit the conventional definition of an exit game. A translation of their Wikipedia page suggests they have activity all over Japan, but also in South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore. In the English language, they have two locations in the US, as well as having run games in five cities, and two in Canada. It is unclear whether Real Escape Game NZ is one of theirs or not.
The rapidly-expanding Real-Life Room Escape page on Wikipedia (ugh, what a clunky title) suggests that ParaPark was the first fixed location game to open in Hungary in 2011; they advertise as “the first room escape game in the galaxy”. Continent, quite possibly; galaxy… perhaps “first” makes more sense if it’s translated as “first place”. Anyway, the ParaPark (“Fear Park”) brand has branches in Hungary, Spain, Romania and Austria (the latter in an apparent tie-up with a laser game brand – smart idea) and may be coming to Italy, the Netherlands and Australia.
The Mazebase brand is a little disparate. They are best known for the HintHunt brand represented in London, Paris, Cape Town, Dubai and Moscow, but grew out of a centre in Debrecen, Hungary also originally known as HintHunt. However, they have also contributed some rooms to Breakout Manchester (two Mazebase, two original), Puzzlair, one Polish site, two Greek sites with others in progress.
To UK audiences, Escape Hunt is possibly the most avowedly international brand of them all, with branches already open in the Netherlands, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia as well as the UK. They have recently revised up their global growth target by about 50% to “75 locations signed by end of 2014 and 500 by end of 2015”, which has to be an excellent sign, though there’s a difference between locations signed and locations opened. Paul Bart is going to be kept extremely busy!
The Adventure Rooms brand is also well known for the success of its franchising around the world. Having started in Bern, Switzerland, they have grown not only around their original country but also into the US, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Estonia and Russia, with Australia coming soon. No sign of any UK deal yet, but it would seem plausible that someone wanting to extend an established, tried-and-tested brand could sign one at some point down the line.
The Freeing brand is known for very large centres in Hong Kong and Singapore, with one of the two Singapore locations (at Bugis+) featuring ten rooms, all different. Gulp! Ten may tie Escape Hunt London for largest and ten different is quite possibly unprecedented, at least among the English language. They also have one Indian site and one Canadian site. It’s not immediately clear whether Freeing Room in Kuala Lumpur is connected with the brand or not.
Escape Room currently only have operations in two countries, with six sites in Malaysia and one in Australia. However, they get points for “coming soon” in five more, including the UK, with a suggestion that their first branch will be in Manchester. In Australia, be sure not to confuse Escape Room Australia, in Melbourne, with Escape Room Melbourne or the barely-opened Escape Room Oz in Queensland; it may well be that none of them have any connections with each other. This site understands that the appropriate national slang for the nomenclature confusion is a bingle.
The LosT brand has two very large centres in Hong Kong and one large one in Singapore, Room Escape Adventures will trap you in a room with a Zombie in 14 US cities as well as Toronto, and the Escap3d brand fully deserves consideration here for sites in both the UK and Ireland.
Among national brands that could conceivably grow overseas some day, Team Escape are spreading across Germany, Escape have two locations in Scotland with another coming soon to Newcastle, Escape The Room has two locations in NYC and one in Philadelphia and there are two Puzzle Break locations on the West coast in San Francisco and Seattle.
Speaking of Puzzle Break, their co-founder Nate Martin made a cracking Reddit post about his thoughts and reflections after a year of running his business, answering public questions as well. Well worth reading, and thanks towards Toronto for sharing the link!