2017 predictions analysis

Peering into a Crystal Ball

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back on my predictions for 2017 and laugh at how utterly wrong I was. 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 I did…

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

  • 8 now games: Stirling, Bolton, Colchester, Northampton, Shrewsbury, Derry, Basingstoke, Limerick
  • 2 have announced games: Stratford-upon-Avon, Cheltenham
  • 4 remain resolutely escape-roomless: Falkirk, Carlisle, Luton, Bridgend

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.

The closest we came was some Arsenal footballers taking on a custom escape room for a Betfair advert. No soaps though.

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 was announced – so a firm tick in the “achieved” column for this prediction.

Prediction: At least four overseas franchises not currently in the UK and Ireland will open a room.

This was close but not quite there. Escape Hunt, Komnata Quest, Fox in a Box and Claustrophobia all looked set to open rooms but none made it by the end of year cut off. Exit the Room opening up in Manchester and Game Over opening in both Rochdale and Derby were the two real successes. Do I get to count Open the Door? Well, not quite – it was technically open in 2016 (albeit by less than a month). SCRAP, the original escape room company, came to these shores in July albeit only for three days and for a ball room game.

All in all though, I’m feeling pretty good about this prediction – it missed but not by a mile. Three out of four aint bad.

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

Thanks to the Escape company, this prediction came in, and some! The final figure is in the mid-60s (Blackpool [3], Colchester [2], Doncaster [2], Dundee [3], Edinburgh [3+2], Glasgow [5], Hull [6], Ipswich [3], Livingston [2], London [3+3], Newcastle [2+3], Peterborough [5+3], Sheffield [5], Skegness [2] and Stoke on Trent [4]). On top of that a few non-franchise locations have bought in the games: Escapism [4], The Escapologist [2] and Escape Live Coventry [1], Escape Room Cheddar [2])

Prediction: At least 50 venues will close in 2016

Looks like this will be spectacularly 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 eighteen venues that have closed this year. Of those, half were always intended to be temporary rooms (Escape Mobile, clockwork Dog, Escape this Room and the Eden Project) and only two were what I would describe as the business hitting the rocks. The market still seems strong.

Prediction: At least ten new play-at-home escape rooms will launch and be available in the UK

This came true with ease – Kosmos launched six just on their own. Add to that Mattel’s Werewolf game, Unlock from Space Cowboys, Deckscape and even a birthday card!

Prediction: At least 100 people will gather for an escape game industry related event

With ease – the E.R.I.C. in Nottingham saw around 150 people attend what was probably the highlight of the escape room calendar.

Prediction: At some point during 2017, 1000 escape rooms will be open across the UK and Ireland.

Yahoo! It took us until the final week of the year but we just, just scraped over the line. The final count is 1005… Forgive me if I’m a little smug about that prediction!

Overall result:

Well, it looks like I was far closer than I expected. Of the 11 predictions only four failed to materialise but, more pleasingly, there were several that were right at the cusp – 1000 rooms, four overseas franchises, 14 new urban locations. I’ve not decided yet whether I’ll make any predictions for 2018 but in the meantime – what do you think will happen this year?


  1. Wow Ken that’s a great insight! I remember reading with great interest your prediction article last year as I prepared to get into the business. What a year it’s been for me, delighted to have added two rooms to your 1005.


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