Keep on rolling

It’s been over a year since I last discussed the growth of the UK and Irish escape room markets so I thought I’d share the current state of play with y’all. As part of maintaining the game list on this site, I track when games open and close and which regions they’re in. That, in turn, allows me to generate graphs showing the growth across the country and individual areas. There’s no promise that the figures are 100% accurate (with new rooms opening up at a rate of around one a day, it’s unlikely to ever be truly up to date), but they are at least pretty close.

With that in mind, here are two charts that show the growth of escape games in the UK and Ireland. Firstly a simple chart of escape room count, plotting their growth since 2012. Second a breakdown of the same data by the standard NUTS regions, charting rooms per million population as a crude way of allowing them to be easily compared.

UK and Irish escape room count over the past five years

If you’re not familiar with the term NUTS regions, don’t worry. These are just the standard way of breaking down the countries into separate parts, such as NW England, London and the East Midlands. Within those NUTS regions you can see various trends. Interestingly the North West of England is moving well clear of the pack whereas the rest of the big players seem to be converging to around the same level. Could this mean that the North West is in for a dip? Or does the M62 corridor mean that they’re building up a group of committed enthusiasts – certainly, if you look at bloggers around the country, it’s always been the region with the most interest.

UK escape room count per million capita broken down for each NUTS region in the UK (plus Ireland)

So, back to the original question: How’s the local escape room market doing? Based on the above, I feel that the market is still growing and will continue to do so through the remainder of this year and the whole of 2018.

Last time round, a commenter asked me to estimate the annual turnover of the UK market so I think it’s worth doing that analysis this year. It’s hard to say for sure but… there are currently ~800 rooms in the UK. Those rooms are typically filled at the weekends and evenings only. I’d say, on average, 15 slots a week based on looking through various companies’ bookings. The average cost is probably around £60.  800 rooms * 15 bookings/week * 60 pounds/booking/room * 52 weeks = ~£38,000,000.  So, I’d estimate the industry turning over somewhere in the region of £40m this year.

It’s worth bearing in mind, if you’re an owner feeling like that’s quite a high mark, that there are some big players that skew numbers. I’d be surprised if Time Run and clueQuest don’t each turn over something between £1 and £1.5m per year, while Enigma Quests have booked out around 500 consecutive slots of one of their rooms and I’d estimate already have £100+k of bookings in the next five months.

What do you think? What would you like to know more about? Feel free to add questions or comments below.

Owners: if you’re ever interested in the most recent data then feel free to drop me an email – it’s easy enough to give you up-to-the-minute figures.

Escape Room Rumours – 24 July 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Another quietish week:

  • South East England
  • East of England
    • The Haunted is opening at Cryptic Escape bringing the Norwich venue’s total to three games
  • Scotland
  • West Midlands
    • Clue HQ Malvern are throwing open their doors with Bunker 38 and Cell Block C the first games to appear at the venue.
    • Escape Van is a new mobile franchise based in Telford. It’s not entirely clear from the website but it looks like they’re just available for party/corporate hire
  • East Midlands
    • Escape Skegness opened over the weekend importing two of their parent brand’s games – School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Prison Breakout.
    • And they also got a mention in an article about activities in the seaside resort.
  • South West England
    • Probably winning the title for the longest game name, Professor Dunstan and the Search for the Ancient Statuette is opening at Co-decode in Swindon and there’s a 20% discount for early players.
  • Ireland
    • Another new company has appeared in Dublin – Clockwork Door have launched an escape room themed around Alice in Wonderland

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Update: 2017 predictions

Peering into a Crystal Ball

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 [citation needed], 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.

Escape Room Rumours – 17 July 2017

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Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

A few stories this time round but nothing on the sacle of a few weeks back.

  • East Midlands
    • The Mansfield branch of UK Escape Games opened Molly O’Grady’s Murder Mystery
  • West Midlands
    • Two new games to announce in the region this week – first up, Clue HQ Malvern is the latest in the long list of Clue HQ venues. According to the website they’ll be opening with Bunker 38 and Cell Block C.
    • If you’re looking for a job in the escape room industry then Clue HQ are currently recruiting for a Venue Operations Manager in Birmingham with a salary of £20-27k. Full details on their website.
    • The other arrival is the independent company Room Release. They’re set to launch Disappearing Doctors but it looks like they’ll be sharing premises with Clockwork Escapes to start with – giving you three games to play if you make a pitstop in Wolverhampton.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • Another Clue HQ franchise is set to open, this time in Sheffield. The website suggest this will be starting with the same games as their Malvern branch – Bunker 38 and Cell Block C.
  • North West England
    • Those of you with long memories may remember the free game run at the St Helens Library. Well, it looks like the same company is back with a teletext-based escape room over in Wigan. Limited dates so get in quick if you want a ticket.
    • Random report from Preston where escape rooms were specifically mentioned in an Ofsted report. Under the “Overall experiences and progress of children and young people”, the school was rated outstanding (the top possible grading) and while the escape room obviously wasn’t single-handedly responsible for that, it’s an interesting soundbite.
    • Escape Room Centre, the Blackpool company, opened Grimoire in the Attic, their fifth game and first home-developed venture.
    • Breakout Liverpool is expanding with Vacancy and The Detective Office making their debut in the Merseyside venue.
  • London
    • Two big closures were announced this month. First up, AI Escape are closing Leo’s Path at the end of this month while Escape Plan are closing The Adventure Begins towards the end of August. Both games are moving over to make room for new experiences.
    • Another school with an escape room connection but this time making one.
    • Fancy becoming an escape room employee? Look no further – they’re looking for acting hosts in Trapped in a Room’s Zombie game.
    • Pie and Mash Shop, the second game from Do Stuff Escape Games opens this week.
  • Ireland
    • The UK Escape Room community has a thriving enthusiast Facebook group. Well, great news – Ireland had one too now. Head over to Facebook if you want to join and make sure jump in and say hello!
  • East of England
    • The third of the Clue HQ expansions is in Bedford. At the time of writing they’ve only got the Betrayal of Cluetankhamun listed for opening.
  • North East England
    • The Escape Key look set to open this week with their first game entitled “Armageddon”.
  • South East England
    • Exciting Escapes are opening their second site – this time up in Basingstoke. The first game to make its way across is A Hidden Past.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Escape Room Rumours – 10 July 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

A quieter week this time round. Big thanks again to Jackie from Exit Games Scotland and Paul from Bolt Escape Games Dublin for keeping me in the loop on Ireland and Scotland.

  • East Midlands
    • We’ve known for a while but I don’t think there’s been any mention on this site – Escapologic, one of the most popular escape venues in the country have acquired a second site. Expect games to start appearing in Leicester later this year.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • The Escaporium have opened with their first game called Operation Moonshine
  • North West England
    • Only last week I mentioned that Escape Reality would likely overtake Breakout as #3 in the country. Well, that obviously wasn’t acceptable to the Breakout Liverpool crew and they’ve announced that they’ll be opening more rooms at the branch, having taken over another floor of the building. Expect copies of Vacancy and the Detective Office to open soon but there are more in the pipeline.
    • A few months ago, Escape Hunt declared their intention to open sites across the whole country. Well, it looks like they’re starting to deliver on that promise, first with a Birmingham announcement and now this article about a new site in Manchester.
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Live is another company that we’ve known was set to launch a new venue but I don’t think had had a mention and they’ve now announced an address so we’ve added a pin to the map.
    • And their sister venue, over in Coventry, have opened Casino Heist, a “steal as much as you can” escape room.
  • London
  • North East England
    • Pirate Escape in Whitby opened The Pirate’s Forbidden Jungle
  • East of England
  • South West England
    • A new company, Puzzle Room Cornwall, have opened in the South West. Their first game, open already, is The Mine
    • There’s a one night competition, Breakout Bristol, taking place in Bristol that sees teams taking on what looks to be a mixture of mental and physical challenges and culminates in an escape room. I’m not certain but given the description, it looks to be either Hell in a Cell or a variant thereof.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Escape Room Rumours – 3 July 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

A quieter week this time round. Big thanks again to Jackie from Exit Games Scotland and Paul from Bolt Escape Games Dublin for keeping me in the loop on Ireland and Scotland.

  • East of England
    • Rustic Riddles, the recently opened outdoor escape room in Norfolk, got a mention in the local newspaper
  • South East England
    • Escape 360, a new company based just outside Windsor, launched with their first room called Prime Suspect
  • Virtual Reality
    • Omescape in London have entered the VR escape room market with their first game called Mind Horror. Note that you can now view VR rooms on a separate page of the exitgames site.
  • Ireland
    • Escape Boats, in Dublin launched, if you’ll forgive the pun, over the weekend, with their first game called SOS.
    • It was obviously the weekend for Dublin launches as they were joined by 5 Quests who start out with two games: Jungle Quest and Pharaoh’s Tomb
  • Scotland
    • Escape Reality are continuing their onward march across the country, this time with the announcement of an Edinburgh branch. When that location opens, they will likely become the third biggest UK brand by number of rooms, displacing Breakout. With rumours suggesting that Birmingham and Manchester may follow soon, there’s a very good chance they’ll be the first company in the UK to hit 50 rooms.
    • Locked Shetland opened a second room at their site called The Tomb
  • North East England
    • Pirate Escape closed Pirate Island ready for their new game to open next week.
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Reality Coventry had their official launch last week with coverage by the local paper.
    • Escape Live are going ahead with their plans in Stratford-upon-Avon. No details yet as to when the venue will open though.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • East Midlands
    • Hour Escape opened the first of their two “The Abandoned Cabin” rooms. If you want to play head to head, you’ll need to wait a couple of weeks for the duplicate room.
  • Northern Ireland

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Escape Room Rumours – 26 June 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

A quieter week this time round. Big thanks again to Paul from Bolt Escape Games Dublin and Jackie from Exit Games Scotland for keeping me in the loop on Scotland and Ireland.

  • Scotland
  • West Midlands
  • Ireland
  • South East England
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • South West England
    • Bristol has been in want of another venue since Fathom Escape closed early last year. The good news is that a new company has finally arrived: Riddlr. They’ve got three games to entertain you, Prison State, The Brunel Enigma and Zombie Apocalypse
  • London
  • East Midlands
  • East of England
  • North West England
    • The Dungeons opened their escape room last week. Exciting to see Merlin, the theme park group, open up a permanent escape room.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Escape Room Rumours – 19 June 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Wow – it’s been a busy week there. Big thanks for Paul from Bolt Escape Games Dublin for letting me know about Ireland and Jackie from Exit Games Scotland for keeping her pulse on NI and Scotland.

  • Northern Ireland
    • There’s a new company about to enter the NI scene with Elementary Escape Rooms set to launch in Portrush near Coleraine.
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Stafford (unconnected to the nationwide Escape brand) have appeared on social media and look like they’ll be launching with a Jigsaw-inspired escape room and one themed around a chocolate factory
    • Escape Nation are also set to launch in Stafford with a space station themed game, the Citadel.
  • London
  • South East England
    • Time Trap Escape reopened their doors in Reading, this time permanently, with Rebellion – 1136.
    • The Escapement in Margate opened last week with two games Egyptian Exodus and Pirates of Polaris.
    • Escape Rooms Quest are set to open in Bournemouth with their first game called “The Zodiac: Chapter one”
    • Tulleys are well known within the scare industry but look like they’re branching out with Tulleys Escape Rooms – note that the farm does plenty of non-scare attractions and it looks likely the escape rooms will follow that strand at least in the first instance.
    • City Mazes Oxford closed Control Room 54 and replaced it with Professor’s Predicament which may be a Russian-designed escape room.
  • Ireland
    • I might as well have entitled this the Limerick update with three different companies appearing on the radar this week.
      • WeEscape are already well established in Cork and Dublin and look set to launch with three of their games in the city
      • Asylroom have an existing location in Galway – no details yet on the new rooms launching in Limerick.
      • Escape Limerick is an entirely new operation (and, for the record, unrelated to the Escape brand)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • Can You Escape? in York opened Operation H.E.R.O.
    • Most news is good new with escape rooms but sometimes it’s not all positive. The Great Escape in Leeds hit the headlines due to controversy over their new game which is set in an Asylum. The local BBC news picked up on the story too. You can read the Great Escape’s official response here.
  • Scotland
  • East Midlands
    • It’s hard to find out much concrete information about Escape the Room but it looks like it’s been open for a while in Mansfield.
    • Trapp’d, the Corby-based company, are planning on opening a venue in Northampton
    • Hour Escape opened The Abandoned Cabin
  • West Midlands
    • Escape Time in Sutton Coldfield are running a weekday discount during June. Use code “6-for-60”.
  • East of England
    • Trapp’d, the Corby-based company, are planning on opening a venue in Peterborough.
    • Escape Skegness is the latest in the Escape franchises long list of venues.
    • Rustic Riddles opened this week with their first game, Pan’s Problem – an outdoor escape room.
  • North West England
    • Bury looks set to get its second venue with Time Race. Two games are already listed on their website – Vault 17 and the Invitation
    • Escape Stockport, unrelated to the nationwide escape room company that often chooses that style of name, have launched their web presence and look set to open with three games – Interrogation Room, Chemistry Lab and Pirates’ Cove
    • Mission Exit, the company based just outside Manchester opened their second game, Paper Chase
    • Here’s a chance to win an escape room in Breakout Manchester

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Escape Room Rumours – 11 June 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Plenty of updates on the UK scene this week

  • North East England.
    • The Escape Key opens this week with two games already bookable – Armageddon and the Tomb (note – in spite of the name similarities, these don’t look like TRAP games)
  • South West England
    • Lock and Code is opening a second site in Weston super Mare, down in the town centre, with their first game at the new venue being called Breakout.
  • South East England
    • Elusion Rooms look set to open their doors in Southampton later this month with The Pandora Heist
    • The Escapement have just opened with two games – the Tomb and Pirates of Polaris.
    • City Mazes Oxford are removing one of their old games and replacing it with a Russian-sourced room called the Professor’s Predicament.
    • Time Trap Escape finally reopen this week with Rebellion – 1136.
  • London
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • It’s obviously a week for seaside resort announcements with a new room being set to open in Grimsby. Now website yet so you’ll have to make do with Labyrinth’s Facebook page for now.
    • Can You Escape? York open Operation H.E.R.O. this week
    • Escape is set to open a branch in Sheffield
  • North West England
    • moviESCAPE open their second venue this week in Ashton under Lyne. They’re sticking with the scary movie theme and producing an Exorcist-based game this time round.
    • Mission Exit open their second room Paper Chase
  • East of England
    • Rustic Riddles throw open their door this week with Pan’s Problem, an outdoor escape game.
    • House of Horrors is opening at Room Escape Southend
    • A new Escape venue is set to open in Ipswich in a couple of months with the first games on offer being Da Vinci, Contagion and Taken.
    • And early reports of another Escape outlet down in Colchester.
    • A new VR escape experience is opening in Peterborough: Collosal Escapes.  from the looks of the website, it’s associated with the local company, Hour Escape.
  • East Midlands
    • The second room, Edith, is opening at Unescapable
    • Hour Escape are opening The Abandone Cabin
    • Sunny Skegness is going to be getting a branch of Escape with the first game on offer Prison Breakout

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!

Escape Room Rumours – 4 June 2017

news-spiral

Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions.

This site is always on the look out for new games or venues that are opening, references in the media or anything else that might be of interest to the readers, so please do send an email if you spot anything of interest. That applies to owners too – feel free to send me your news for inclusion here. Don’t be shy!

On to the news

Quieter week this time round but

  • South West England
    • Room Smiths, a new company in Plymouth, open this week with their first game, the Naked Eye
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • A long time ago, my predecessor once suggested that an escape room could open in Whitby. Well, that will come to pass this week with Eskape Whitby opening The Night Watchman
  • Scotland
    • I missed mentioning this a couple of weeks ago but Escape Hour in Edinburgh opened their latest game, Time Machine
    • Locked In Edinburgh are running a competition this week to win a free game at their site.
  • West Midlands
    • If you want to play at Escape Live in Coventry, there’s a small discount available at the moment.
    • Leamington Spa look likely to get an escape room with Experimental Escapes appearing. No website as yet but there’s a Facebook page if you want to track their progress.
  • South East England

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, discounts or competitions, then let me know via email or in the comments below and I’ll include updates in the next edition.

Thanks for reading!