Update: This piece is outdated. We published Three Years of Room Escapes: The Growth of the US Market on July 30, 2017.
We’ve been tracking the growth of the escape room industry in the United States for two years. In that time, the industry has boomed, going from under a dozen room escape companies to over 900. The growth isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Escape room growth over time
At the end of 2014, there were 22 escape room companies in the US.
By mid 2015, there were at least 100.
At the end of 2015, there were 450.
Today, in mid 2016, there are over 900.
These days, it’s rare for a day to go by when we don’t add at least one company to the map.
These numbers count individual locations as different companies. A company with a dozen locations is counted 12 times. Multiple locations can be across the country or just down the street.
These numbers count companies that aren’t officially open for business, but are clearly establishing a business that will open soon.
These numbers do not count companies who might open some day. A single social media page does not count as open soon. Companies need to have a physical address publicized on a legitimate website. Because map. And because links.
These numbers only track the growth in the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, and in Canada within a few miles of the US border.
Also, because we do this by hand, we’ve been known to create broken map pins, typos, etc. Please let us know if you discover any such errors so that we can fix them.
The spreadsheet originally included every game offered at every location of every company. If a company offered four games at four facilities or one facility, it had four spreadsheet listings.
By the fall of 2015, keeping track of individual games became unmanageable. Companies opened new games and closed their older ones. They rarely let us know. The spreadsheet was perpetually out of date and the data set became dirty.
In early 2016 we relaunched the spreadsheet to match the map. It now has a listing for each location. The map and spreadsheet display the same information in different views.
Neighboring the United States
The map and spreadsheet include some non-US company locations.
Canada: There is no hard science as to which Canadian companies are listed. Generally, we list Canadian companies that are extremely close to the US border and not in major Canadian escape room markets (coughTORONTOcough).
Mexico and the Caribbean: There aren’t a lot of companies in this region, so we list all the ones we can find, provided we can figure out where to drop the pin on the map. I don’t speak Spanish and the Mexican address structure confuses me.
Metropolitan area growth
New York has the most escape room companies of any US metropolitan area. It has approximately 50.
Los Angeles comes in second with about 40.
After that the numbers drop off dramatically. The metropolitan areas with more than 20 companies include Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Boston.
These stats cannot answer the big question on the escape room community’s mind: how many companies can the market bear?
Ultimately we maintain that the market will never reach a high-quality game saturation point. However, it could break due to an over-saturation of low and mid-range games. If players keep seeing the same patterns, they could easily burn out on the entire medium, falsely believing that they’ve seen all that there is to see.
We will continue to watch the trends and keep an ear to player behavior.
Update: For a deeper understanding of our tracking methodology and a few corrections, please read, “Industry Growth Tracking Methodology.”