Looking ahead to 2016: predictions for the year

Peering into a Crystal Ball

This site has ran predictions features over the second half of 2014 and over the whole of 2015, assessing the accuracy of the predictions each time so that the world can have a giggle at just how wrong the guesses were in the first place. Let’s have another go for 2016, more because it’s fun than for any other reason. (Compare to the 2016 predictions for London by The Logic Escapes Me.)

That said, predictions are only so-o-o-o interesting. It’s more fun to think about plausible edge cases; it’s more fun to predict a long shot than something more obvious, but who’s to say what’s obvious and what isn’t? This list of predictions will also attempt to minimise the extent to which it covers previously-trod ground, as “this was an entertaining long-shot that didn’t happen last year and remains an entertaining long-shot this year” isn’t particularly exciting. A couple of other starting-points for predictions: this site will steer clear of predicting things it believes to be foregone conclusions already, and this site will attempt to make the most ambitious predictions that it feels confident making; this site would set over-under lines for the numerical predictions only a little above the figures quoted.

This site considers each of the following to be at least slightly more likely than not:

  • This site will become aware of more than 51 exit game openings in the UK and Ireland in 2016. (Not part of the prediction, but this site suspects that at least 40% of the openings will come from brands and people already in the business in 2015, with a decreasing number of people starting from scratch. Deliberately short-lived pop-up games are not included in the count.)
  • This site will become aware of more than 13 exit game closures in the UK and Ireland. Not every closure is a catastrophe: some businesses have decided to deliberately run a game with a finite duration, possibly with later sequels in mind.
  • At least one brand will have at least nine locations open in the UK and Ireland in 2016. (This is perhaps the most marginal of predictions, but eight seems just a little too safe to predict.)
  • Crowdfunding will get harder; no reasonably traditional exit game based in the UK or Ireland will attract more than £5,000 in funding in 2016 unless the people behind it have an established track record in this or another closely related industry.
  • Many of the biggest gaps in the market will close. At least one exit game will open in 2016 within eight miles of the main train station in at least four of the seven following locations: Reading, Portsmouth, Milton Keynes, Hull, Middlesbrough, Coventry and Peterborough. (This site has heard people talk about possible sites in two of these, but that’s far from a done deal. Other possible cities have been rejected from the list for being too safe a prediction.)
  • The exit game industry will continue to grow sufficiently quickly that this site’s estimate for the number of unique players in the UK or Ireland by the end of December 2015 reaches or exceeds 750,000.
  • There will be a meeting in the UK or Ireland in 2016 with exit games as its focus which attracts more than 50 attendees.
  • This site will become aware of someone that it does not already know at the time of making this prediction running an exit game for friends and family on an amateur basis within the UK and Ireland in 2016 using something more elaborate than, say, a Breakout EDU kit or similar.
  • London and at least two other UK towns will each hold at least four Puzzled Pint events in 2016. (This site has six possibilities in mind.)
  • There will be a UK DASH event and it will sell at least 25 team spaces – or sell out completely if the organisers choose a lower capacity – within 12 days.
  • There will be at least 18 locations in at least three countries around the world at this year’s DASH.
  • Ulrich Voigt will win the World Puzzle Championship this year for his eleventh victory in seventeen years.
  • David McNeill of Northern Ireland will defend his over-50s title in at least one of the World Sudoku Championship and the World Puzzle Championship; hopefully both!
  • This site will finally predict the WPC winning team after picking second place for the last two years.
  • This site loves stories of marriage proposals taking place at exit games and there have been at least ten customer proposals on record. A more interesting prediction is that by the end of 2016, this site will become aware of at least one proposal between a couple who got to know each other by both working at the same exit game.

This site considers each of the following to be less likely than not – maybe something like 30% likely each? – but nevertheless these are interesting possibilities.

  • Some company may bring larger-scale live escape events to the UK, with relatively many teams playing the same game at once. (This is inspired by SCRAP’s Real Escape Game events playing in France and Spain as well as other continents, and is surely slightly more likely than last year.)
  • An exit game brand in the UK and Ireland may take over at least one other existing game, or maybe even another exit game brand altogether.
  • There may be a single-day puzzle hunt in the UK and Ireland that is not the continuation of a series run in previous years and that attracts at least a hundred players.
  • There may be some interactive transmedia storytelling (or an Alternate Reality Game, as people called them a decade and a bit ago) to promote a new exit game or a new room at an exit game.
  • This site may become aware of an Irish exit game community; the rooms do exist, as well as the Boda Borg centre at Lough Key and doubtless other things far too cool to exist in the UK yet, so it would be a delight for someone to start a blog with an Irish focus and maybe even get meetings going as is starting to happen in the UK.

This site considers each of the following to be much less likely than not – maybe something like 15% likely each? – but nevertheless these are entertaining outside possibilities.

  • There might be a TV puzzle show made in the UK or Ireland to match up with the best puzzle shows that we’ve had in the past; if someone were to commission a local version of The Genius and it were to live up to its potential, that would count, or if someone were to make a really good exit game TV show, that would count too.
  • There might be a puzzle competition (as opposed to an armchair treasure hunt or puzzle hunt) launched in the UK or Ireland which is designed to be played in teams – maybe even an inter-town league or an inter-university championship. This site really misses the Croco-League.
  • Someone might start an overtly humorous blog about the genre in the UK and Ireland: two-thirds serious content, one-third shtick.
  • Someone might start an attraction just north of Heathrow called The Crystal Hayes or in South Essex called The Crystal Grays

10 Comments

  1. I don’t think crowdfunding will get harder – I think it’s already hard. Of the rooms that have successfully crowdfunded (I think Enigma Escape: 5.6k, Enigma Quests: 4.4k, Oubliette: 11k, Red House Mysteries: 3.6k) only Oubliette got much beyond the 5k, and I think that was pretty special. If anything, I think a crowdfunding approach might be easier this year, because more people understand what escape rooms are now. I’m going to go out on a limb and say at least one company will successfully run a crowdfunding campaign worth 5k.

    I’d say at least five of the towns you mention will get an escape room. Puzzled Pint will open in at least Edinburgh and Manchester (although I think Cambridge is a good shout, and a third London not impossible from what I’ve seen).

    UK exit game meeting with at least 50 participants – great prediction. You’re almost managing that with your Crystal Maze endeavours at 32! If the Leeds unconference proves successful, it feels almost inevitable that we’ll get one in London eventually. If Leeds can get 25 people, then London will surely get 50 – if it’s halfway professional, then I’d anticipate dragging along quite a few Europeans as well as plenty from around the UK.

    Finally, and most interestingly, numbers of exit game opening this year. 51 is a bold prediction (assuming you mean venues and not individual games), but I still think it’s conservative. I expect 50 more than now, so a total of 60 new ones (allowing for some attrition).

    Another exciting year!

    Reply
    • I agree with your general point about the existing difficulty of crowdfunding, and I do like the way that our opposing-looking predictions do not necessarily completely rule each other out. Could someone with a good track record crowdfund 5k or more to, say, open a new location? That sounds plausible to me and would fit both of our bills.

      Puzzled Pint mostly needs people to be the first to get up onto the dancefloor and be ready and willing to run it, and some cities have shown that it can last many months with just a handful of teams. Naming individual cities outright seems a little closer than I’d like to volunteering specific people to run things to me, but people who have expressed interest in the past know who they are – and my better half and I are happy to give them all the support and encouragement they would like.

      The meeting for The Crystal Maze won’t get as many as fifty attendees, but could there be something in London this year that attracts half a hundred? We shall see. I’m aware of the potential of meeting fatigue, and people can only take so much time off to attend meetings, but I do think it’s more likely than not!

      Reply
      • An established company could probably do well at using crowdfunding to open a new room in the same location. Whether they’d want to though is another question. I can certainly see it being viable for the smaller companies who are mostly attracting enthusiasts.

        Reply
  2. Looks like you’ve been pretty close with predictions so far:
    – London unconference didn’t quite make it to 50 (although potentially could have)
    – Enigma Quests (an *existing* company) have secured 5k crowdfunding, but no other companies have managed it
    – DASH filled out in something like 15 days in London and there were 17 locations in 2 countries (c.f. 18 and 3)
    – MK, Portsmouth, Hull and Peterborough all look safe for opening rooms.

    Looking forward to seeing how the rest pan out over the remainder of the year.

    Reply

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