By the numbers: UK vs the rest of the world

A couple of people have asked questions recently related to how many escape rooms the UK can sustain. Truth be told, I don’t really know the answer but I was interested enough to try to pull together a few statistics from other countries. I grabbed them from anywhere I could get them easily – sometimes just taking them direct from a report and sometimes finding a list and adding them up by hand.

The numbers are inevitably approximate – I may have made minor errors when counting, the lists aren’t necessary complete and games appear and disappear on an almost daily basis in most of these regions. I do believe the numbers are about right.

The table below is ordered by number of rooms per million population to give you a feel for how densely filled the markets are. Obviously a lot of factors affect these numbers – planning laws, when the first game appeared, labour costs, tourist numbers etc. Read into the data what you will…

Country Population (m) Rooms (/m pop) Source (rooms)
 NL  17  612 (36)  Escape Talk
 Poland  38  986 (26)  Lock Me
 Luxembourg  0.57  11 (19)  Escape Talk
 USA  323  6000 (18.6)  Facebook thread – David Spira estimate.
 UK  65  855 (13.2)  Exit Games
 Singapore  5.6  68 (12.1)  TripAdvisor and primary research
 France  67  811 (12.1)  Wescape
 Belgium  11  120 (11)  Escape Talk
 Australia  24  195 (8.1)  Escape Room Hunters
 Austria  8.7  65 (7.5)  Lukas Rauscher from Crime Runners

Populations based on Wikipedia’s best guess.

If you’ve got any other statistics that I can add then let me know via comments below. I won’t add them indefinitely but if I get more stats over the next couple of weeks then I’m happy to drop them in.

Escape Room Rumours – 11 September 2017

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Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round-up with updates on 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

  • General
    • The big news this week is the announcement of the first UK escape room conference in Nottingham. Tickets are on sale and running out fast so if you’re an owner then I’d recommend you get in and book!
    • It’s not really news but this site’s detailed escape room listing has now been upgraded to include information about duplicate games. Hover over the duplicate icon (duplicate icon) and you’ll get information about where else the game is present in the UK including alternative names. Remember that there are now region specific pages too – follow the links from the top of the page.
  • North East England
  • East of England
    • First mention of a new escape room in East Anglia. Escape Rooms Suffolk is set to open in Bury St Edmonds with a single room – no date as yet.
  • Scotland
  • South East England
  • London
    • Escape Plan opens a new game this week – Battle for Britain
  • Ireland
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • North West England
    • Lucardo close Contamination this week.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, significant 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!

UK Escape Room Conference – 16 Oct 2017

You might have been envious if you read the article on Exit Games earlier in the year about Up the Game in the Netherlands. Well, if so, good news – the inaugural Escape Room Industry Conference has just been announced, and it’s being held in Nottingham on 16th October this year.

Details are still being released but I’m reliably informed that Nick Moran of Time Run fame will be reprising his pitch on the Tools of Immersion that was well received at Up the Game. On top of that you can expect talks and panels on technology, set design, franchising, in-game feedback, clueing systems, educational opportunities and promotion with more being announced in the coming weeks. That’s a huge range of content that should cover pretty much all your escape room needs.

The day starts at 10am and the talks/panels continue through till 6pm with a break for lunch. It doesn’t end there, though – they’ve booked out space for after-conference networking opportunities which will be available through until 11pm. Sounds like a fun-filled day!

If that sounds of interest then you should probably move quickly – tickets are limited and they’re priced incredibly cheaply to maximise access. I don’t expect them to last long. The initial capacity has been set at 70 people. While there’s a hint that they can extend that to cater for more people, it looks like they’d need to negotiate extra capacity at the venue so you’re taking a risk if you don’t get in soon. Tickets are available here.

After several successful unconferences, it’s great to see the team at Escapologic and Sarah from S² take the opportunity to try out something new. Thanks also to those industry heavyweights who are helping everyone move forward with their games by putting on presentations.

Escape Room Rumours – 4 September 2017

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Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round-up with updates on 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

  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • It’s been open for a few weeks now but I keep on forgetting to add it in: Stuck in the Riddle opened in Huddersfield in mid-August with their first game entitled The Dungeon.
  • South East England
  • East of England
    • First mention of an escape room in Bury St Edmunds. Escape Rooms Suffolk have just a single game listed on their site for now – Death Row.
  • East Midlands
    • UK Escape Games in Melton Mowbray and Mansfield are running a significant discount off their games in September – head to the website for details.
    • Alien is opening at iLocked in Nottingham
  • South West England
  • London

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, significant 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 – 28 August 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

After last week’s quiet, things are obviously hotting up for the new school term, with plenty of new openings:

  • London
    • Time Run are looking to hire a Sales Manager.
    • Escape Plan, the Elephant & Castle-based company, are closing The Adventure Begins today. Their new adventure, Battle for Britain, opens in a couple of weeks.
    • World War II – the Spitfire is opening at Operation Escape.
  • South West England
    • Cheddar Gorge and Caves is the latest traditional attraction to add escape rooms to their offering. They’re running two games: Caved In, an hour long attraction; and The Vault, a thirty-minute experience. They were also visited this week by the local press.
  • East of England
    • Thinking Outside the Box close Stranded at the end of this week to make way for a new game – no mention as to what that theme will be yet.
    • The East Anglian itinerant game Puzzle Room is visiting Reedham in Norfolk.
  • South East England
    • Escape Colchester has been announced, with the first two games mentioned both existing in other Escape venues round the country – Witchcraft and Wizardry and 221B Baker Street.
    • Deadlocked Rooms has been announced in Reading. The name may be new, but the team behind it were involved in the highly praised Thinking Outside the Box Escape Rooms in Peterborough.
    • From Rags to Riches is opening at Pressure Point Escape Rooms.
    • Locked in a Room Milton Keynes opens its doors this week with Timelock and Invisibility Gene. Both games are taken from their other centres and, with each having four copies, it seems like they’re heavily targeting the corporate market.
  • Virtual Reality Centres
    • For those of you interested in VR escape rooms, Belfast has a new VR centre: VR Party.
  • North West England
    • Mission Exit, near Manchester, will be launching a Hallowe’en version of the Killer’s Code.
    • First news of Lancaster Escape, with the Lancaster Guardian running an article on them.
    • If you pay any attention to the escape room news, then you’re probably already aware of moviESCAPE, who launched a new Star Wars escape room this week and got plenty of press coverage.
    • It’s not clear whether it’s actually open, but it’s certainly pretty close, and the booking page for Time Race in Bury near Manchester has opened. Two games to start with – the Invitation and Vault 17.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • Clue HQ Sheffield opens this week with the perennial Clue HQ room, Bunker 38, and another popular room from their other venues, Cell Block C.
  • Ireland
    • It’s actually been open for around six months, but Exit Athlone has only just appeared on my radar in spite of having two rooms, Clown Prince of Crime and New World Order.
    • Ealu Escape Rooms is, in comparison, a relative newcomer, having been open only four months in Westport. With the Hidden Temple and the House in the Woods, that means Ireland’s total of known rooms has grown by about ten percent this week!
  • Scotland
    • Witch House in Scottish Highlands is opening at Glasgow’s Locked In Escape Room.
    • Padlox Escape Rooms launched in Edinburgh. Their first game, Going for Gold, has a particularly unusual theme – you’re trying to find evidence of Olympic drug cheating.
    • Lockdown Inverness replaced Area 51 with a new game, Lost!
    • If the games up in Shetland are a little too far for you, perhaps Escape Room Orkney will allow you to tick off “northerly island” from your to do list.
  • East Midlands

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, significant 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 – 21 August 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

As we draw to the end of the summer, it’s been a relatively quiet week although the South East doesn’t seem to have got the memo 😉

  • East of Midlands
    • Lincolnshire Live made mention of the new Enigma Rooms venue in Retford.
  • East of England
  • Scotland
    • Locked In Edinburgh have a couple of their escape rooms, the Distillery and Animal Hospital, available as part of the Fringe.
      • and take note – Animal Hospital will close after the Fringe so if you haven’t already played, this is your last chance!
    • Don’t forget that you can also catch Agent November‘s half hour escape rooms up in Edinburgh until the end of this week.
  • South East England
    • Guildford Escape Rooms open this week with the launch of their first game, The Case of the Missing Gun.
    • First mention of a new escape room – Time 2 Escape in Rochester are aiming to open in early October.
    • The Magician is opening at The MacGuffin Project in Bournemouth.
    • Defective Detective is opening at The Panic Room Gravesend.
    • Ace Ventura has opened at The Lockey, also in Bournemouth. Note that this is a separate venue from their other two games.
  • London
    • The Case of the Dynamo Diamonds opened at Popup Escapes in Putney last week. As suggested by the venue name, it’s a popup game so you’ll only have three months if you want to go and experience it.
  • North West England
    • Lock Down Exit Games in Warrington are teaming up with a local scare attraction and a Quasar site to put together a Hallowe’en escape room.

That’s all I’m aware of. If any of the above is incorrect or if you’re aware of other news, significant 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 – 14 August 2017

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Welcome to your weekly escape room rumour round up packed full of new games, venues and media mentions. Apologies to those of you who missed last week’s edition – I was away in Warsaw for the weekend so didn’t have time to gather all the news updates together.

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

Quietening down for the summer?

  • General
  • South East England
    • CTRL-ALT-ESC have launched in Margate with their first game entitled Frankenscape.
    • (see also the national news at the top about an article in the Bournemouth Echo)
    • More Bournemouth news: Escape Rooms Quest have opened in the town with their first game entitled The Zodiac: Chapter 1.
    • Yet more Bournemouth news – a new company U-Escape looks set to launch in the town.
  • Northern Ireland (Thanks to Jackie for the ongoing updates in NI!)
    • Lifford Old Courthouse are running a popup game next week as part of an upcoming heritage week.
    • Timescape are a new venue opening in Belfast
  • South West England
    • First hints of an escape attraction that will be opening in Cheddar Gorge. Not sure of the timeline but it looks like there will be a couple of games at the venue.
  • East Midlands
  • East of England
    • Colchester has recently approved planning permission for one game but it’s obviously a popular choice with a second planning application being submitted and noticed by the local paper.
    • Ipswich Escape Rooms was visited by their local paper.
    • History Mystery have opened their second site at Blickling Church in Norfolk, the first permanent UK game to open in an active church. The church is connected to the Boleyn family so it should come as no surprise that the game, The Queenmaker, is centred around Anne Boleyn.
  • Scotland
    • Go Escape in Dunfermline opened Mission: Implausible
    • London-based mobile operator, Agent November, is visiting the Fringe this month with a couple of their games customised for the festival
    • (see also the national news at the top about an article in the Sunday Herald)
  • North West England
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
    • Yet another outdoorsy escape room is opening, this time near Sheffield. Living Adventure Puzzle Woods has launched the Miner’s Trail, a kind of outdoors puzzle trail with escape room elements.
    • Enigma Rooms Retford opens this week with two games: Colditz and Outbreak
    • The Escapologist opened in Selby with two games: World of Wizardry and Anarchy of the Seas
    • Wakefield has been added to the Enigma Rooms’ website. No details of opening dates or games as of yet.
  • West Midlands
    • Unfortunately I was too late to spot this in time to enter but it looks like there was a running/escape room hybrid taking place in Malvern last week.
    • It’s obviously the time for hybrid events with the Quiztal Maze taking place last week in a pub in Nuneaton. According to the advert it was a pub quiz with escape room elements. For now it seems to be a one off but if that looks interesting then I’d suggest getting in touch to find out more.

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 – 31 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

Quietening down for the summer?

  • North East England
    • Fancy owning an escape room in York? Looks like a York based game is up for sale.
    • The Escape Key, the newest entrant to the Newcastle market, throws open its door this week with two rooms: Armageddon and The Tomb
  • Scotland
  • South East England
    • If you’re going to the Stay Wild Festival near Southampton that takes place on 9/10th September then you’ll have the chance to take part in a child-friendly escape room experience.
    • It’s been around for a few weeks but I hadn’t noticed till now – Abducted Live have opened a second experience at their venue in Hastings.
  • East of England
  • West Midlands
    • Could this be the biggest escape room ever run in the UK? Xscape Now helped the International Centre set up the event over the 15,000m² venue.
  • North West 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!

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

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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

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!