Results from the 2015/2016 Survey

Abstract survey graphicThis is the five hundredth item on this blog, or the 501st if you count the map as an item. It’s a lovely round number, certainly, but celebratory hoopla will be saved for another occasion.

Nearly two weeks ago, this site sent out 75 e-mails to exit games in the UK, with representing total of 88 locations, inviting them to take part in a survey. Twenty-four replies have now been received, featuring twenty-three answers, which is a pleasing rate of response. The first twenty came in time for a preliminary results presentation and analysis at The Great Escape UK last week; at that point, it was suggested that the full results would be made available within a week so now is the time to shut the lid on the survey.

Here follows a summary of the results. The percentage values quoted are not intentionally misleading, but the sample size of 23 is moderately small. On the other hand, maybe it’s just the best data that we can expect to get!

1. How was 2015 for you and for your business?

52% of respondents gave a somewhat generic positive response (good, really good, fantastic etc.) and 13% specifically suggested they found things editing, though 17% conveyed a sense that things have been tough or that their learning curve had been steep. 52% of respondents identified as being from new businesses; 26% pointed to expansion, growth or new rooms in their answers here and 9% suggested that 2015 had been better than 2014. 30% identified that they took pride in the good reviews that they had received and 13% proudly quoted the number of people they employed.

2. How do you feel 2015 was for the world of exit games in the UK at large?

57% of replies here pointed out the number of openings and 22% observed more general growth in the market. 35% identified increased awareness of the genre among the public, 13% noted the popularity and the quality of reviews and 26% gave a non-specific positive response. 9% of responses hinted at observing the start of market saturation.

3. What can you reveal about your plans for 2016?

57% of answers referred to at least one new room, 26% to at least one new site and 13% to planned forthcoming change to their existing rooms. 17% talked about spreading their brand through franchise or licensing arrangements. Finally, 13% hinted more vaguely at new projects, more experimental games or expansion outside the traditional definition of exit games.

4. What do you expect to see happen to the UK’s exit games in 2016?

The most overwhelming conclusion in the whole survey is that 83% expected more openings; an interpretation might be that some or all of the remaining response was from people who considered it sufficiently self-evident not to express. 22% said they expected further closures. 13% pointed out that they thought the market had not reached “the top” yet; 35% expected the new games launched to be better or more experimental and another 13% anticipated a better year in the media for the market.

5. What are your biggest concerns for 2016?

30% expressed concern over the effect of bad games on newcomers; 13% feared too much competition, or too many new sites, and 9% worried over the potential for their games to be copied. 17% used phrases like the beginnings of market saturation or the analogy of a burst bubble. Happily, as many as 22% of responses said they had nothing to worry about!

This site wishes to thank everyone who responded to the survey and looks forward to seeing how things compare in another year’s time. The raw results are long and accordingly behind the “Read more” link below.


1. How was 2015 for you and for your business?

  • 2015 has been a fantastic year for Escape Quest we opened two new games, designing and building these kept us so busy between bookings that we hardly saw daylight or the outside world through the summer! we’ve seen bookings increase month on month too.
  • 2015 was a key year for us as after a year of planning we finally opened to the public. It was a quiet start but business quickly ramped up and positive reviews were flowing in. We are proud to have achieved our start up goals quicker than planned
  • 2015 was good for us..it was all about letting the public know that we were different and how to make our mark on the map (we are in a underground basement after all) social media and word of mouth has worked brilliantly for us and I was conscious about throwing a load of cash at advertising so I didn’t. On a whole far much better than expected though as ive signed the lease here for a further 30 months.
  • 2015 was pretty exciting for us. We had to move premises due to the redevelopment of our old place near Liverpool St. This was however for the better, as we had 5 rooms maximum capacity at Liverpool St. and our new place at King’s Cross will hold up to 9 rooms. (We have currently 7 open, and another 2 with a new design – Revenge of the Sheep – will open late March.) We were invited to Harrogate for the Annual Crime writers festival where Revenge of the Sheep made its debut / test round, and we made a laser beam game for the Licence to Escape event which was a nice challenge as well for our game designer team. We made a huge development in staff and equipment and further developed clueQuest in general to be able to stick to the high standard we have set ourselves.
  • 2015 was the year our business has launched, and I believe it’s right to say, as for any business’s first year, it’s been a very tough year. The problems we’ve had to overcome on our way of launching, varied both in complexity, length, and cost, and have taught us many things. Having said that, it has also been a very exciting year to be involved in something that holds both of our passions, and having our perseverance, endurance and creativity tested many times, I can, without a doubt, say that we’ve learned things that will help us build Enigma Quests into something stronger and better in 2016.
  • 2015 was very exciting for us as we launched our first game which was very well received and is going from strength to strength.
  • 2015 was very good
  • Excellent, we went from 4 rooms in Manchester to 7, back to 5 and finished the year on 8 having opened a second site. Liverpool opened in March and we are now up to 5 rooms there and business is very strong. We now employee 35 people.
  • Fantastic Year, delighted with the growth in sales and the expansion of the business. Some highlights: 12 sites now operating with our games around the world, reviews have been excellent from both customers and owners. 25 employees in the company. Nominated for “Emerging Business of the Year” at Scottish Business Awards  Noughts and Coffees finally opened giving us our first dual functioning site.
  • ​I opened up not really knowing what to expect. My gut told me that I wouldn’t lose money and it would pay for itself, but I had no real idea how successful it could become. Since opening my second room (perhaps due to being open long enough and word of mouth beginning to spread too), business has gone really, really well. I am now at the point where I am researching either ​​obtaining the basement here (to which I have an idea that I have seen no other escape room do, and would be keen to discuss with you) or opening a branch elsewhere.
  • In short: good. We’ve opened only in October.
  • It was a good year! We’ve got excellent reviews from customers esp. on Trip Advisor and have exceeded our revenue expectations. Personally, we’re exhausted but happy!
  • It was a great year for us – we met and exceeded our sales targets, employ 10 staff and developed new games and ventures.
  • It was good, could be better, but much worse. We opened Puzzlair 2 so we have 2 more games now
  • My first part year, launched in April and the summer was very disappointing – interest picked up in Sept. A busy Nov and Dec ensured the year ended on an upbeat note.
  • New start for us, and really pleased with the responses form customers and how the venue is going.  All reviews have been 5 stars.    50+ 5star reviews on Facebook, and 40+ 5star reviews on TripAdvisor.
  • Opening at the beginning of 2015 I can safely say its been the best year so far…. (and by the same logic also the worst). We’ve gone from nothing to a great team of staff, multiple games and created a loyal customer base. Its been a steep learning curve for everyone involved especially myself and I doubt thats likely to change going into 2016. On the flip side, we have had multiple disasters and a severe lack of sleep!
  • Really good, we achieved near perfect Trip Advisor reviews and did around 5 times more business per month than 2014.
  • Short.. We just opening for the last week of December
  • The Mystery Cube landed in January 2015 when there were perhaps half a dozen London escape rooms. Since then there has been a huge increase in rooms but we have seen slow but steady growth in popularity despite this. We are still a small cube in a big pond but our customers say time and time again that they pick us because of the quality of our tripadvisor reviews rather than the quantity. Thank goodness, gamers are the kind of people who do their research!
  • We launched in 2014. 2015 was better than our first year.
  • We opened our gates on June 2015, so we tried to grow up.
  • We opened the doors to the public on Dec 2015 so it is early stages for us at the moment, however we have received very good reviews. We have been busy tweeking the game and perfecting our skills as game masters!!

2. How do you feel 2015 was for the world of exit games in the UK at large?

  • 2015 has shown a huge increase in venues across the uk starting escape gaming. This will improve public awareness about this type of entertainment.
  • A lot of exit games opened, people in the UK got know this kind of game, and they are so popular in the moment. Half part of the teams have already played at another place, before they visited us, but it was a totally new experience for the other half part. People are happy they have a new activity they can do it together, particularly the families.
  • A steady increase in new venues opening throughout the UK has increased awareness of the existence of Escape Rooms which is great news for all of us.
  • A time of exciting growth.
  • Arguably, the year when it all took off! We can only hope that the quality remains high as more rooms open.
  • Excellent year increasing awareness of the market which is beneficial for all involved. The various press pieces helped bring Escape games to the mass market although we are still seen as a niche business. TV shows such as Race to Escape have helped raise awareness too.
  • Fortunately our guests were very friendly and they enjoyed the games.
  • From the companies we talked to, it felt very positive – there was certainly an appetite for the games, with new one regularly entering the market and we were visited by a number of aficionados try to visit every new game.
  • From what I have read and heard about seems very encouraging and awareness of the concept and existence of these challenges is on the increase.
  • ​​I have said to a few people that by the end of 2015, the majority of people will know somebody who have done an exit game. By the end of 2016, the majority of people will have done one themselves. There’s still a LOT of people who have no idea what they are.​
  • I think it is still good to be in this business, and there is still a lot to explore about the genre. The market started to saturate itself, and we could see a lot of newcomers in the UK and in London as well. The genre is popular and more and more teams are attracted to do this in their free time, which is good: A rising tide lifts all boats.
  • I think it is still growing.  Being stuck out in the wilds of Norfolk, many not even heard about them out my way 🙂 Appear to be more and more popping up.
  • I think it was a good year for exit games, lots of awareness is a good thing, lots of people obviously tried to jump on the bandwagon half-heartedly and ultimately failed. But some good sites have opened this year which is good for awareness.
  • I would imagine that if a company had good games they gain great reviews and prospered.
  • In 2015 we saw a “baby boom” of exit games opening across the UK, both new businesses and existing ones expanding. We suspect that the majority of these exit game owners are enthusiasts, much like ourselves, whom caught the thrill in 2014 and thought they have what it takes to set one up themselves. The exit game industry in the UK is still young though and we expect that most businesses will still be in start up debt. It’s clear that most of the 2014 owners are now profitable or at least just broken even. Overall, the industry is growing and healthy.
  • In my opinion 2015 has been great for Exit Games and I would be interested in hearing if anyone thinks otherwise. The industry continues to experience rapid growth and the demand and exposure is increasing continuously for the time being. I do think things are only going to get better for at least the next few years. Its a really exciting time for exit games and ‘alternative entertainment’ as whole. 2016 and beyond brings an overwhelming amount of potential!
  • It seems to be the year of big expansion. It’s hard to keep up with the number of games opening in London only. But I don’t know too much about the worldwide tendencies.
  • It’s becoming apparent that more and more people in UK have now either heard or tried an escape game of sorts, and the interest shown by all guests, undoubtedly, inspired more people to open their own escape games in 2015. London market might seem saturated for some, but we believe there is a lot more room to grow and open more escape games, however only if these are well designed, highly advanced and nicely themed games, as players in the capital have higher expectations from what I’ve encountered. I must admit that we haven’t tried many games around the UK, only some in Manchester and Warrington, and unfortunately did not find those very impressive. I would have thought with less cost allocated into location rental and business rates, the owners would invest more in better set decoration and puzzle design, and will wholeheartedly hope that by seeing how many new sites are opening around the UK, the existing owners will try to keep up with constant innovation and development of their games into something better.
  • Mixed – lots of new competitors, but not enough production value in some sites. However, awareness of the industry is increasing and spells a promising 2016. We’ve played some of the competition and have felt the spectrum.
  • Positive, there is a growing awareness of the industry by the public.
  • Really well – there has been an increase in press coverage and in people playing the games overall.
  • Very good, more people are realising what the games are and the market is growing
  • Well, I think a lot of new games was opened in 2015 which is good.

3. What can you reveal about your plans for 2016?

  • 2016 is a very exciting year for us as we hope to build up our reputation and income and our second room is currently under construction, The Lost Tomb.
  • 2016 will be a very exciting year for me, the 4th and final room at Escapologic opens 20th of this month and I’m hoping to sign the lease on premises in ((REDACTED)) by the end of this week.
  • Building on the foundations laid down in 2015 – increased publicity, looking for new venues which are more agreeable, pitching heavily to the corporate market which has come to me rather that me seeking it out. Planning some unique outdoor events for summer – escape a locked garden kind of game and hosting rooms at some of the agricultural shows, county fairs etc which run throughout the summer months here in rural East Anglia. No one is doing anything like that so it will be an experiment.
  • Expansion plans – a new premises we hope and a new game.
  • ​I will be trying to obtain the basement of where I am now, for a project based on exit games I have seen no others do. I will also be opening another branch in another part of the country.​
  • Oh you mean the secret “The Mystery Cube will give birth soon” plan? No idea what you are talking about. Our prices will be increasing from the 31st January.
  • Open in ((REDACTED)) in the first half of the year. Go up to 11 rooms in Manchester and 7 in Liverpool. Do a big Halloween event in Manchester. Look at 2/3 other cities. We also franchised to 15 locations across the globe last year and wish to do the same in 2016.
  • Opening of the 2 new rooms.  Been delayed due to personal reasons, then the difficulty of finding the right employees whom can keep the high level of customer experience up, and maintain 5star reviews.  Second room, hopefully about 6 weeks away
  • Our plans for 2016 haven’t changed much in a sense that we still are working on two more quests in the same location (with working titles “Snatch” and “Interstellar”, themed as a bank heist and a spaceship respectively), but would like to work on these slowly and more carefully. When we initially launched the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, there had been quite a few deadlines which we had to meet, and thankfully we do not have this pressure with the other two quests, and will be launching both later in 2016.
  • So I’m happy to give away that we will open at least one new game and increase our staff as well as having a gradual re-brand. All of these things hopefully happening at the start of the year. Beyond this we have plenty of goals and lots of ambition and vision but nothing is set in stone. Personally I feel overwhelmed with the potential for what can happen but I think having a solid base to build things on is more important than uncontrolled rapid growth.
  • We are are expanding from 2 games to 6
  • We are gonna change one of our games in February and add a totally different detective game in the first quarter of the year.
  • We are planning to open more extravagant rooms
  • We have many milestones in our business plan and we are in good position to expand in early 2016. The next milestone is late 2016 and we are hopeful that we will meet this target too.
  • We hope to open at least one more escape game in another city (we will be able to confirm at the end of February)- but hopefully two by the end of the year. We are also developing our mobile escape game which will launch in Spring 2016 – a fully transportable submarine escape room.
  • We hope to secure investment to launch a new game in 2016
  • “We like to be very secretive about what we do, but I’ll try to give away what I can.
    We are releasing our 3rd design Revenge of the Sheep on 24th of March.
    We are working on our first franchisee location (Can’t disclose the location yet)
    We are developing a new project here in London which is not strictly related to escape games but is under the clueQuest brand
    And a few other ideas and side projects, which unfortunately I can’t reveal yet”
  • We plan to expand our licensing operation to allow us to explore more international markets. Riyadh in Saudi Arabia is under construction as is ((REDACTED))… couldn’t find two more differing markets for the first quarter if we tried.  In addition to this we are going to look to extend our company sites around the UK taking advantage of markets that we feel are under represented at the moment. A flagship Noughts and Coffees will be built in Edinburgh to provide the full gaming experience.
  • We plan to open 2 more rooms during 2016 bringing our total to 5.
  • We try to fill our schedules with full house.
  • We will be aiming to grow by 250% on last year, and also to attract people who can set up franchises of Agent November in different cities and countries.
  • We’d like to expand the business with another room. And we’re planning to have a secret collaboration with a big London venue.
  • What Rocky Balboa said: “Keep moving forward” 🙂

4. What do you expect to see happen to the UK’s exit games in 2016?

  • A lot more exit games opening, a higher level of failure due to saturation. Customers becoming more savvy and choosing which games the play with more knowledge.
  • Again lots of people doing it wrong, lots of people doing it right, I don’t quite think we have hit the crest of the wave yet as I’m sure you are aware not that many players actually have done escape rooms before (unless they are lying when I ask)
  • Higher production value in some places, more sites, launch of Escape venues in larger attractions (e.g. heritage properties, theme parks, corporate event spaces etc)
  • ​​I expect more to be opening up, some new (first-time-openers) and some extra branches for existing companies.
  • I expect the market to grow and the escape companies to either raise the bar for escape rooms and grow quickly or be overtaken by the others. I expect more companies to open offering escape games.
  • I foresee more appearing, he hopeful thing is that it does not become too saturated.
  • I hope we reach the same income
  • I think 2016 will continue to see growth as a whole but I do think with this, more sites will close, I suppose this is inevitable at some point. This figure for 2016 I think will be tiny compared to the number of new sites. Looking at 2016 I think it will be a great year in the media for Exit Games.
  • I think more room will open. The competition will be stronger in London and will start in bigger cities.
  • I think this type of entertainment will become more popular, but likewise the expectations of the public will become greater. Rooms are definitely going to need to up their game to survive.
  • I would expect that more and more enter the market. I would also imagine the standard of games rise, moving away from the ‘start up’ type game to more professional games and so the cost to enter the market will begin to rise (probably around half way through the year).
  • I would think more games would pop up.
  • In the wake of Crystal Maze we see more investment in immersive games, parciularly if the market accept the significant increase in price point. We hope that it will open up the market to people not familiar with escape games, off the back of the press around live gaming that the Crystal Maze will generate.
  • Increased activity both in terms of numbers of new rooms set up and the number of people getting to play the rooms. A lot of experimentation with new ideas, some of which will fail and others succeed. Expecting it to be a very good year.
  • Many more rooms, clearly!
  • More escape games to open up, and a few to close down.
  • On one hand, there will certainly be more sites opening with different rooms on offer. On the other, not all of them are going to be top notch and well designed. We’ve actually had few players that admitted their plans to open an escape game, but I was under impression that these were rather inspired by money-making reasons, rather than a passion for the game-making itself, which is troubling. I truly believe that as long as the games are good and very different from each other, there will be no competition as such. The problem is with the bad games, when the first-timers are disappointed and are under impression that all games are like that.
  • The number will continue to increase.
  • We expect the business turnovers will be the same, maybe a little bit much, some new ideas can occur. New exit games will open, but not so many than in 2015.
  • We expect to see another boom of exit games opening across the UK. The number of businesses that would open would equal or be more than 2015. The 2014 owners would most likely stick around. The 2015 owners who have executed the business well will look to expand this year. We expect there to be a lot more closures in 2016 than in 2015. This is because 2016 is the year that the exit games industry will hit the media hard. The market will have a lot more options and competition between them will grow. Natural selection will start running its course and the popular ones will get more popular and the worst will be killed off.
  • We think more and more new escape games will appear on the market in 2016.
  • We think there’s likely to be a similar increase in the number of new venues opening or possibly more than did in 2015, this is great as the UK market is nowhere near saturation point so it’ll do the same job of increasing awareness that the 2015 openings did.
  • With the games I expect to see more innovation and creativity in games as we progress. More adventurous themes and more risk taking. I used the word “more” a lot there but I think we have a product that people enjoy so more of the same is required. The market will continue to become increasingly mainstream.

5. What are your biggest concerns for 2016?

  • As above, too many new sites may start to dilute the interest.
  • As an Exit game enthusiast I have absolutely no worries for 2016. As an owner I’m much more concerned (‘aware’ is probably a better word for me) about the business side of things especially about how we expand and grow as a business. That said I rarely worry or get concerned about anything (not always a good!) so I really am just excited to see what happens.
  • Beginnings of market saturation… but tailing off of interest in the genre won’t be a problem. However too many operators in the market might affect off peak times in some cities. Consumer choice will become important. Soon it will be ‘which game shall we play’ with more folks researching the options. Greater understanding of what the consumer wants will come to the fore and escape games will need to respond and improve.
  • Copies of games are churned out across the country and the level of innovation and inventiveness decreases.
  • Hoping to maintain the momentum we have and building the Escapologic brand. Like I said the fly by nights can ruin the reputation of some of the good ones in the localitys
  • I’d hate to see lots of poor quality rooms start to pop up all over, driving prices down and possibly giving customers a bad first experience so they never try another.
  • Let’s hope that cowboys don’t build rubbish games.
  • My biggest concern is related to the above mentioned “more escape games to open up”. I don’t necessarily see more providers as a problem, as this business at its core is complimentary. (Obviously there is a point where the market is overflown, but I am not talking about that aspect here) The problem here is that more and more entrepreneurs will see the exit game market as a good business, which is not a problem, this industry is indeed a fun one. But I am most certain that this will eventually bring drop in quality – you can see this happening already – which will turn away first timers from the genre and that is going to be a problem for the whole industry.
  • nope
  • Nothing to be concerned about. There is talk about contraction of the global economy but that trickle down effect won’t be seen in the pockets of average customer for maybe another 12-18 months, if at all. Costs of fuel and basic foods will continue to fall so more people will have the feel good factor and willing to try new leisure activities and businesses will continue to invest in their employees.
  • On one hand, there will certainly be more sites opening with different rooms on offer. On the other, not all of them are going to be top notch and well designed. We’ve actually had few players that admitted their plans to open an escape game, but I was under impression that these were rather inspired by money-making reasons, rather than a passion for the game-making itself, which is troubling. I truly believe that as long as the games are good and very different from each other, there will be no competition as such. The problem is with the bad games, when the first-timers are disappointed and are under impression that all games are like that.
  • Our biggest concern is people opening substandard games which will discourage people from playing further games and affect the whole industry.
  • Our biggest concern is sustaining the footfall we need to remain operational. Our set up and running costs are relatively high and we do rely on regular bookings. Ideally large corporate bookings during the day would have been beneficial but many are put off by the time lag between groups entering the games.
  • Staying visible in an increasingly busy market.
  • ​That the “bubble” will burst. However, I think we are quite a few years away from this.
  • The beginning of the end? There are a lot of sites opening in places I wouldn’t consider, most of them in already congested markets. I could be wrong(and hopefully I am) but I think we will see a number of closures after the summer. I would expect the number of sites to continue rising until we start to see closures.
  • The competition will grow this year but we are in a good position that we don’t see this as a huge concern, just something we have to keep an eye on.
  • There will be too many bad independent escape games on the market which is
  • Tough one. I can say what I do not want to see – a proliferation of heavily-invested business ventures where the quasi-underground feel of the scene becomes more like an industry. But however it pans out, the Mystery Cube is all-powerful and will keep spreading the love to all Cubenauts!
  • TripAdvisors continuing change of algorithm is difficult! We have stats to show that nearly 50% of our bookings are coming from TripAdivsor so for us it’s really important.
  • We don’t have any in the moment, but we think after 2-3 years people will loose from their zest relating to this kind of games. However, all of them are different, the feeling during the game and the conception is very similar. Some similar clues, puzzles and ideas are inevitable.
  • We don’t really have many concerns as we believe we are offering a premium escape experience and the emergence of other escape rooms in our region will only spread the awareness.
  • We haven’t got any concerns for the future. We try to give the best service to our kind guests.

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