Oh, we’re halfway there… so for a bit of fun I thought I’d have a quick look at how the 2017 forecast is faring. Back in January I made 10 predictions of things I thought would happen this year plus the big one: how many rooms will be open on 31 December 2017. Let’s see how we’re doing…
Prediction: Escape rooms will appear in more than half of the following locations: Falkirk, Stirling, Basingstoke, Bolton, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Colchester, Luton, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bridgend, Derry, Limerick
Of the 14 towns I named
- 6 already have games: Stirling, Bolton, Colchester, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Derry
- 3 have announced games (although, in this industry, that doesn’t mean they’ll open by year end): Basingstoke, Stratford-upon-Avon, Limerick
- No progress for Falkirk, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Luton, Bridgend
A pretty good start, I think – not only are we already pretty close to making that target of eight rooms but it doesn’t look like I was overly cautious. It seems unlikely we’ll get to, say, twelve of them.
Prediction: Escape rooms will appear on a UK made soap opera or equivalent.
Prediction: Escape rooms will appear on a UK made nationally broadcast reality TV show.
I’ve not heard anything along these lines. The closest I’ve come across was some Arsenal footballers taking on a custom escape room for a Betfair advert. Still plenty of time for these to come true!
Prediction: A new escape-room-like venue will be announced in the UK similar to Boda Borg, the Crystal Maze or GoQuest.
We’ve already had Never Give Up in Newcastle open and Crack it Bolton announced so I think we can safely put this one to bed but I’ve heard tell of at least one other so this might be a prediction which over-achieves.
Prediction: At least four overseas franchises not currently in the UK and Ireland will open a room.
At the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this one has failed miserably with not a single overseas franchise appearing on these shores BUT there’s a silver lining. Claustrophobia look likely to open in a couple of months, There’s the vaguest suggestion that Escapology might open up in Manchester and, of course, Escape Hunt are looking to open a couple of venues in the country. If all three of those were to put down roots it would only take one more company to hit the UK for the prediction to come true.
But wait, who’s that rushing to my defence? SCRAP, the original escape room company , came to these shores this month albeit only for three days. Yes, it would be a bit cheeky to count them but I’ll take my victories any way I can come December 😉
Prediction: At least one theme park operator will open a permanent escape room
Again, we’ve got a semi-victory with Merlin opening an escape room at the Dungeons in Blackpool. Whether you count that as a theme park is up to you but, by the letter of the law, it is being opened by a theme park operator…
Prediction: At least one company will have 50 rooms running across the UK and Ireland by the end of the year
Escape have moved halfway towards the target, Clue HQ have been shadowing them pretty closely but probably aren’t moving quite fast enough to overtake the leader. Breakout have been expanding fast in their existing locations with over 30 rooms now open and another few planned for the next few months. The big surprise, which I called as a long shot at the beginning of the year, is Escape Reality, who’ve gone from almost nothing to 29 already and have plans for a bunch more games in the next couple of months. I definitely wouldn’t it past them to hit 50 by 2018.
Prediction: At least 50 venues will close in 2016
Looks like this will be incredibly wrong, and if I had to be wrong about one prediction then this would most definitely be my choice. At the time of writing, I know of ten venues that have closed this year. Of those, half were always intended to be temporary rooms (Escape Mobile, Clockwork Dog, Escape this Room, the Portsmouth Naval Museum and the Eden Project) so, really, we’ve had very little attrition.
Prediction: At least ten new play-at-home escape rooms will launch and be available in the UK
This seems almost certain to come true however you look at it but if you’re willing to count multi-packs of games separately (such as Unlock from Space Cowboys) then we’ve already had ten launched this year and expect to have a good few more.
Prediction: At least 100 people will gather for an escape game industry related event
So far this hasn’t happened in the UK but there’s a very good chance we’ll hit that later in the year with a London conference.
Prediction: At some point during 2017, 1000 escape rooms will be open across the UK and Ireland.
This was a deliberately bold statement which I chose partly because we’ve continually underestimated the numbers of rooms and partly because 1000 was a round number. I stand by it though – I still think there’s a 50% chance of us exceeding 1000 by the end of the year. During the first half we’ve moved from 600 to 800 games, or a growth of 33%. Even if that drops off slightly, to, say, 25%, we should just scrape over the finish line. It’s hard to be sure in this industry but it still feels like a reasonable estimate. 1000 rooms. It’s a pretty good number.