Friday, February 24, 2012

Will Technology Kill Airsoft or Recball First?

How's that for an attention grabber? Right up there with the social media attention whores who take almost racy pictures of themselves in mirrors to post on the internet. Or a George Lucas narrated remastering of THX 1138 with previously unseen footage now available on Blu*Ray.
Okay, so I've got your attention. (No, it's not real. I made up the THX thing and while I'm at it knock off the sycophantic drooling as a response to the attention whores. "You're so beautiful. lol XXX" Gack! It doesn't work. It makes me want to puke and I despair over what's become of the male gender. Of course paintballers probably shouldn't be reproducing anyway.)

The kids at ProPaintball (post title is the link) put up a couple of videos earlier in the week with Matty Marshall and there's one out there with Mr. U too. Both are introducing iCombat; a paintball-like game play variant using products being produced by irTactical. (irTactical is a division of Predator Games. Predator Games makes laser tag conversion equipment and have partnered with Tippmann in developing Tippmann Laser Tag.) irTactical's focus is for use as a training tool for police and military and includes realistic looking weaponry and a vest with multiple target receptors. (Which is a more sophisticated and accurate measure for confirming "hits.") iCombat takes that a step further and adds a skin contact that discharges a minor electric shock when the vest registers a "hit." And the iCombat kids are already introducing their use of the irTactical technology into paintball playing environments. More interactive related products are in the pipeline already.
VFTD continues to view all the competing games as, d'oh! competition. Airsoft has some crossover to parts of paintball but it's likely paintball is a net exporter of players. And while laser tag is scoffed at by many paintball players (and Tippmann is advertising their variant as a gateway game to paintball) the newest technology could pose a real threat. Add to that the recent incorporation of competing game products (including Airsoft) into industry conferences and what you are witness to is the breakdown of resistance to these direct competitors (to paintball) where it matters. At the local field level. The hook is new, different, more customers for struggling paintball fields. (Which is another post altogether.) Diversify your revenue streams. And why not? Better to have somebody on the fields playing than nobody and have to close up shop, right? Well, sure. For the field operator. But a field where paintball ain't being played is--wait for it--a field where paintball ain't being played!
Case in point: Is Tippmann's move to quick conversion kits for Tippmann markers to laser tag play intended to grow paintball or offer Tippmann--and some local fields with existing Tippmann markers in inventory--an alternative market (service/game)? (Or maybe both?)
I know, I know. It's hard to take too seriously. Now take a moment to consider the limitations placed on playing paintball. The regulated hazards of high pressure air. Growing environmental safety regulations. Zoning restrictions. Gun laws. Peripheral safety equipment like goggles. Cost of paint. The list doesn't end there. If you toss Airsoft into the mix you've got all those damned tiny plastic pellets everywhere.
Along comes another way to play the same game. No high pressure air. No projectiles. No paint. No pellets. No cheating--you get "hit" and your gun turns off. No need for goggles. No damage to the game play environment beyond the wear and tear of players moving around. Want realistic guns? Not a problem. Want to play Army? Coming soon--guns with 4 times the range of a paintball or Airsoft pellet. And, oh yeah, no welts. No pain unless you want the little jolt of failure but it's optional. Are you beginning to see the potential?
Today the top end equipment is pretty pricey. It won't stay that way. And when prices fall into a range similar to Airsoft and paintball it's gonna be game on.


Harb said...

Dude, why you gotta make up a THX 1138 Blu Ray edition, that is just not cool.

steve said...

I love what IR or lazer brings to the table in that you can get detailed statistics, you can turn off the gun of a player that is "hit", and the playing cost (no consumables). However, the speed of light is hard to dodge. I imagine the game like it would be if we played with real bullets. No one can move. You can't head check. You can't gun fight. I think it would be pretty boring. In order for the game to continue to be dynamic, you need a projectile that is a little slower.

Full Bore said...

No paint, no mess, no goggles, no hpa, no netting, the list goes on, I can see this revolutionising rec ball sites. Ultimately this would be bad news for paintball as most come in to playing via a birthday party, or similar outing. Gotta be more of a goer than Ultimate Tazerball, that's just gotta be a method of keeping the crazies off the streets or out of the bars for a few hours!

Reiner Schafer said...

There are a couple of cons I can think of, but it does have a lot or pros.

One is that there would be no indication of shots (that miss) going off near you, like the sound of a ball hitting a bunker or whistling past your ear. Basically you would often not know someone was trying to shoot you until they actually hit you and you would have missed your chance for evasive action.

Not being able to trace your shots would be another one, unless the laser was bright enough to be seen, which I doubt would be the case in daylight.

Anyone know if these markers are shooting semi auto or if they are full auto (constant laser stream)? I would hope semi auto so shooters couldn't just keep the beam going and move their barrel around like a magic wand until they hit the sensor.

Tiffany said...

ROF troubles blossom. Super wide angle beam at the right frequency. Probably going to have to stay field gear only.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Lasertag is awesome for kids, that are too young for the potential pain of paintball.

However, our experience with it is, that older kids and grown ups, really like the adrenaline boost it gives, to know it hurts to get hit, near misses, paintballs hitting your bunker, etc.

Also, the great drawback to lasertag, it that hiding the receiver, makes you invulnerable.

Lasertag is a great add on for most fields, but I most certainly do not see it taking significant market share from paintball.

Baca Loco said...

It was a cheap shot. My apologies. ;)

Reiner et al
Indications from the videos is that the guns simulate real weapons with limited ammo and you have to "reload" when you empty a clip.

One point was that this isn't laser tag as we're currently used to it. It is a more sophisticated and refined version.

Nick Brockdorff said...

You still need a receiver, otherwise the system does not work.

Bits said...

my first thought was how fast these vests and guns will get trashed if used in an outdoor environment. when I have played lazertag, they dont let you kneel or run. lame. but if you played it like paintball, people would want to crawl and dive. some people run pretty hard into walls with their back so stop them selves like they see in the movies. so these vests would be junk in a month.

Missy-Q said...

Indoor fields that bring on the existing laser system love it, and several I know have made a switch from paintball to reball/laser. This allows them to keep the field, bunkers, turf
and equipment clean. It also means they can rent out the field to indoor soccer, lacrosse and hockey leagues on week-nights. Indoor paintball fields can now go 'paint-less', and in many cases this is a better indoor model. My point being that in colder climes with mo indoor facilities paintball is already losing to laser, mainly due to it being clean.
Paintball is still the more viable business model outdoors though, and the mess isn't an issue.

Nick Brockdorff said...

Buy reballs = problem solved

Airsoft said...

My choice would always be airsoft as it is with the running technology and the latest equipment.

Anonymous said...

The irtactical can shoot single, 3 round burst or full auto. The indication of gun fire is the guns use co2 to discharge the sound of gun fire so you hear your enemy shooting at you. the guns are very accurate and at long range. the miss is indicated by the person not lighting up and going arghhhhhh as they get zapped. A lot of paintballers have converted due to the call of duty/battlefield style statistics and ranking. airsofters love it they still play airsoft as its cheap but play irtactical as its the best looking and performing kit out there.

Anonymous said...

the kit is very strong both vests and guns we run indoor and outdoor irtactical and you can crawl around in anything and it cleans up nicely.

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