This is the nineteenth instalment of a (just about) monthly feature which acts as a status report on the exit games in the UK and Ireland, hopefully acting as part of the basis of a survey of growth over time. It reflects a snapshot of the market as it was, to the best of this site’s knowledge, at the end of 31st October 2015. It’s taking longer and longer to produce as the number of rooms increases, but that’s no bad thing.
||Number in the UK
||Number in Ireland
|Exit game locations known to have opened
|Exit game locations known to be open
|Exit game locations in various states of temporary closure
|Exit game locations known to have closed permanently
|Exit game locations showing convincing evidence of being under construction
|Exit game locations showing unconvincing evidence of being under construction
|Exit game projects abandoned before opening
The term opened should be understood to include “sold tickets”, even when it is unclear whether any of those tickets may have been redeemed for played games; the definition of location should be understood to include outdoor locations, pop-up/mobile locations with open-ended time limits and component parts of larger attractions that are played in the same way as conventional exit games. Pop-ups with deliberately very short runs (e.g. Hallowe’en specials, or games run at conventions or festivals) are not counted in this list; games with deliberately finite but longer runs (e.g. Panic!, which awarded a prize to its champion at the end of its sixteen week run) are counted.
What a month it has been! The UK has seen eleven openings and three closures. That said, there was a reopening which has added one to both of those numbers; goodbye to Escape Hunt in London and hello to Escape Entertainment. For the record, the closest thing to this to have happened previously was the rebranding of AK Escape Room to We Escape in Cork, but this site considers that to have been a continuation of a previous site whereas Escape Entertainment has all-new games and there might yet be another franchise of Escape Hunt in London at some point down the line, so this site considers Escape Entertainment to be a new enterprise.
The two additional permanent closures both move from having been listed in the “temporary closure” category last month. The web site for iLocked has apparently gone for good, and the web site for Escape Land is now being used to sell tickets for Hidden Rooms London, in a good demonstration that a web site may still retain some search engine value, and thus be of some financial value, even once the physical location is no more. In Ireland, Escape Clonakilty confirmed on social media that it is closed for the winter and Quests Factory‘s web site is down to the point where it looks like it isn’t coming back.
The Report Card
Corrections would be most welcome.
This site supports all the exit games that exist and will not make claims that any particular one is superior to any other particular one. You’ve probably noticed that this table has removed the review summaries; this site has pages with the review summaries for every site in the United Kingdom and, separately, for every site in Ireland.
This site takes the view that if you’re interested in review summaries, you probably care (at least to some extent) about the question of which site probably has the best popular reviews. Accordingly, you might be interested in the TripAdvisor’s “Fun and Games” rankings lists in (picking only cities with multiple exit games listed) Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Inverness, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham or Sheffield.
Additionally, TripAdvisor now has pages entitled Top Escape Games in United Kingdom and Top Escape Games in Ireland. The UK page looks like it lists twelve of the escape games that are both #1 in “Fun and Games” in their town and listed as an escape game first, in some order, then the escape games that are #2, then the escape games that are #3 and so on. This list is becoming harder to understand; TripAdvisor suggests there are now 24 towns in the UK where an escape game is number one in “Fun and Games” in that town, including one town where two different exit games are number one in “Fun and Games” and number one in “Outdoor Activities” respectively, despite both taking place indoors. (As ever, in the most general terms, it also remains arguable whether you would choose to rank – say – “#1 of a very small number” ahead of “#2 of a very large number”, that sort of thing.) The same site has been top of the national list two months running.
You might also be interested in listings at Play Exit Games, a few of which contain ratings and from which rankings might be derived, or ranking lists from other bloggers. Looking at London sites, The Logic Escapes Me have provided recommendations and detailed comparisons; see also this piece at Bravofly and thinking bob‘s comparisons. In the North-West, there are rhe QMSM room comparisons and Geek Girl Up North site comparions as well. If you have your own UK ranking list, please speak up and it shall be included in future months. The next step could be some sort of exit game Metacritic, comparing the reviews and opinions of those who have played a great number of such games; hopefully, this would corroborate the popular reviews, or perhaps point out some inconsistencies.
It’s more laborious than difficult to estimate the number of people who play an exit game over the course of a month, though there are limits as to how accurate it can be. This site uses data available to the public from sites’ booking systems, the number of rooms at each site, any data supplied by the site (either to the public or in private correspondence), and bears in mind trends in the numbers of Facebook likes, TripAdvisor reviews, photos posted and team sizes per site according to team photos. This site won’t necessarily take owners’ claims at face value, but there’s nothing to be gained from turning business away and saying you’re sold out when in fact you aren’t. October was slightly stronger than September, but many of the new sites opened fairly late in the month and so contributed relatively little to the overall total, though their contributions in November onwards may well be rather more voluminous. Close to half of the sites seem to do (at least close to) half of their weekly business on a Saturday.
This site quotes some fairly broad error bars for its estimate of the number of players below and it’s worth explaining why. If sites tend to sell very many games on the day or very close to the day, the true number will tend to be higher in the range. If sites tend to pretend that they have sold more games than is the case when really they are closing the rooms for staff training, the true number will tend to be lower in the range. There’s a factor accounting for repeat players; asking figures among self-selecting fans who choose to visit a site like this would be unrepresentative, but the assumption is that a considerable majority of players play only one game and that the outliers don’t bring the average up very high yet. Different games cater for different group sizes, which is factored in, and the assumption made here is that it’s reasonable to take average group sizes per game based on each site’s group photos.
With all this in mind, this site makes its best estimate that the number of people who have played at least one exit game in the UK or Ireland, at any point in time up to the end of October 2015, is 400,000. (This estimate is quoted to the nearest 10,000, but the site would not like to claim more confidence than “between 160,000 and 1,000,000”.) As ever, if someone plays more than one game at the same site, this figure still only counts them once, and this number is only really meaningful in the context of this site’s previous estimates. The other usual caveat is that this figure may exclude data from locations about which this site is ignorant – and, as ever, this site keeps discovering new locations that perhaps it might have found out about earlier!