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The Future of Darts

04/06/2024
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501 entertainment is using cutting-edge AR technology to transform the traditional darts game. Bringing a new dimension to dart-playing and traditional pub favorite games is 501 Entertainment.
The 501 Fun brand is now a leader in “social entertainment systems” and it is a position gained from a comparatively short period as the company was only founded in 2018.

501 designs and makes its own games and software and those products will be at the DEAL show this month on the booth of leading distributor Amusement Services International. The UK-based company has seen a big demand for its products post-pandemic, says Aleesha Jassi, marketing manager. “This is particularly true of the Middle East, where we now have venues in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait and we expect this to increase exponentially over the next 12-14 months.

“For us, the Middle East market was one that we were keen to break into as there is so much potential there. Rapid population growth and urbanization, combined with the high disposable income levels and increasing demand for diversified entertainment make it an exciting area for growth.”

Aleesha said that the company had quickly partnered with customers in the region because they tend of offer and cater to what is predominantly and comparatively a youthful population seeking new forms of technology and entertainment, as well as tapping into the increasing tourism potential.

“There is no difference in demand per se comparatively with the west, but demand has increased based on a growing awareness of our products regionally. We see it becoming a key market for us as we bring more customers from the region on board.”

The company’s Interactive Darts and Augmented Reality Darts systems have both gone live in the region and are performing well. 501 believes that this is because they are easy to play and both systems are built to permit complete beginners to play and succeed against their friends and family in easy-to-understand and simple-to-operate games.

“Ultimately, people don’t play our systems because they want to become professional darts players; they want to engage in fun competitive socializing and enjoy the dopamine rush that accompanies successfully hitting a target zone and eliminating their opponents.”

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The challenges of the pandemic are now overcome, said Jassi, and the industry is emerging to face international supply chain issues, the global increase in the cost of consumables and fronting up to constant changes in restrictions.

“But the amusement and leisure industry is a resilient and robust one, and while closures initially curtailed product use, demand for installations continued as venues wanted to best place to serve customers as normality began to resume. We are now seeing levels of engagement surpassing that which our venues experienced pre-pandemic. We think this is due to permanent changes in what people want from entertainment and leisure venues, and how they choose to spend their disposable income.
Night clubs and traditional bars are often being foregone in favor of places that offer activities and diverse forms of entertainment.”

There are some emerging trends that may help the industry to pivot to meet consumers’ evolving expectations. “Firstly, the trend of competitive socializing shows no signs of slowing down, from escape rooms to augmented reality darts. Secondly, in 2024, venues are increasingly embracing a culinary renaissance.