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What next for Gaming IPs in the leisure and attractions industry?

The year is 2019, and there are currently 645 million active console gamers worldwide (Statista). In revenue terms, the gaming market in the UK alone is worth a record £5.7 billion ($7.45 billion) – a greater sum than the country’s video and music industries, combined.

Boosted by gaming IPs with cult followings, such as Fortnite, FIFA, Call Of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, the industry has built a dynasty in the virtual world. But only a few IPs have leapt from our screens to the physical world.

Here’s a snapshot of just some original gaming IPs that have attempted/attempting the expansion into physical…

Under construction

Super Mario

Super Nintendo World is coming to Universal Studios, Orlando, soon. The 4.7-acre site will be mostly taken up by a Mario Kart experience, with the site rumoured to be open in 2021. The site was also going to host Pokemon and The Legend of Zelda experiences too, but rumours at the start of 2019 stated that these plans had been shelved.

League of Legends

With 100 million monthly players worldwide, League of Legends has got a sizeable following. The online battle game is rumoured to be part of a new leisure development in China. The £240 million ($280 million) eSport town has recently opened and will include a theme park.


Angry Birds

Thorpe Park, UK, is home to an Angry Birds Land, complete with 4D cinema experience, themed dodgems and drop tower rides. This was originally opened in 2014 and has continued to help park operator, Merlin Entertainments, grow like-for-like revenue by 7.7% in 2017/18.

Temporary experiences

Call of Duty

Six Flags Magic Mountain was home to a temporary Call of Duty experience, back in 2015. The Black Ops-inspired experience was part of the theme park’s Fright Fest.

Resident Evil

The Resident Evil maze was created for Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights event, back in 2013.

Gone but not forgotten

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Remember Lara Croft? The character was created less than 15 minutes away from Katapult HQ and the illusive archaeologist was used on four rides around the world, all have since been renamed.

Not all IPs are relevant

The list above is by no means exhaustive. However, the lack of video game IPs realised as permanent theme park rides, attractions and experience is surprising. But not all IPs are relevant.

  1. Some games represent real-life already – Sims and sports-related games such as FIFA, NBK and F1 can already be played or watched in real life.

  2. Some games are simply illegal – As much as a Grand Theft Auto theme park sounds amazing, the thought of building an attraction around violence will not go down well.

  3. Some games have a fluctuating interest – Pokemon, as one example, is a testament to how an IP can drastically change in popularity. A potential reason why Universal is rumoured to have paused the project.

The top game IP in 2019?

Fortnite, of course.

But how can you turn a timed shooter-survival gaming mode into a real experience for its millions of fans? That question remains unanswered but the developer, Epic Games, has already had a go…

Is this just a whimsical experience at a gaming convention, or a plea to the leisure industry that this is an IP ready to evolve? Whatever the situation, Fortnite could become the next big leisure IP – if interest in the game continues to increase.

Potential for park owners…

Beyond using gaming IPs for midway, plush and coin-operated games, there is a gap in the market to extend IPs to physical experiences. Why?

  1. Gaming IPs have an engaging and loyal fan base just like any other IP

  2. The average gamer is 35 years old – a broader market to target than just ‘kids’

  3. Temporary experiences have done well without a permanent presence

  4. There is an IP gap in the theme park industry for tech-savvy teenagers

  5. Potential to increase revenue through untapped loyalties in gaming IPs

Potential for IP owners…

Theme parks and visitor attractions provide you with another channel to engage loyal followers of your brand. Licensing or investing in physical attractions can:

  1. Provide greater brand exposure and loyalty that generates new fans too

  2. Increases revenue from merchandise and exclusive purchases

  3. Stimulate photo opportunity moments to amplify the brand’s reach on social media

  4. Create a physical community for online gamers to meet face-to-face

  5. Provide a destination to hold tournaments and special events

Whether you are a park owner or IP owner, get in touch with us and let’s see how we could create a new and immersive experience, together.

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