A few folks have asked about our escape room industry growth tracking methodology. Since I had originally intended to include it in the analysis, but forgot… here it is for your reading pleasure. Nerds.
We launched the map in the fall of 2014.
When we started the map project, our goals were (1) to share game locations with players and (2) to reach out to the creators. We mostly wanted to meet people. At that time, we didn’t collect data with the intent to document the growth of the industry. We backfilled a lot of it later, based on email records. Because of this, there are missing data points, as well as data errors.
During 2014 and 2015, we used the map primarily to grow our connection to the escape room community. To that end, when we added new companies to the map, we always sent a welcome message. Whenever possible, we sent an email, but sometimes we used a contact form or social media.
In December of 2015, when we stopped tracking individual games, we also decided to use our data to document the growth of the industry. Starting in 2016, when we added a company to the map, we not only reached out, but also recorded the map add date.
In the spring of 2016, we backfilled industry growth statistics for the previous two years. This means that the data points from 2014 and 2015 are less accurate than the ones we keep now. They are based on information collected for a different purpose.
Here are some numbers from the data set used for the original post:
- 892 total company locations on the map
- 463 company locations at the end of 2015
- 172 company locations with unknown add date. They existed on January 1, 2016, but in absence of a record of communication with the company, we noted an add date of December 31, 2015. The extreme growth in Q4 of 2015 is partly due to this.
A correction to the analysis
After publishing, we took a close look at those companies from 2014. Upon further examination, we can find communication records with additional companies, raising the 2014 total to 24 companies.
Additionally, we added 6 companies in January of 2015. We actually booked visits to two of these companies that month and it would be reasonable to assume that they opened their doors in 2014. Thus, we knew of approximately 30 company locations at the end of 2014.
Additionally, Room Escape Adventures already had locations in a handful of cities across the United States. In 2014, when we added the company to the map, we emailed one central email address for all of these locations. We don’t have a record of how many cities this included. This likely puts the 2014 location total in the range of 40 as Room Escape Adventures Trapped in a Room with a Zombie proliferated dramatically in the early stage of the US market.
Even for the 2016 data, recorded with industry tracking in mind, there are accuracy caveats. The date we record for each company is the “add date” for our map. It is likely not the date the company location opened its doors, and not even necessarily the date we learned about their existence. For example, we didn’t add any companies to the map while we honeymooned at the end of March 2016. That means there are companies recorded as Q2 2016 who we heard about in Q1 2016, who might even have opened in Q4 of 2015.
Our data isn’t perfect, and the exact numbers will be wrong, but the approximate trends are absolutely clear. As far as we know, this is the most comprehensive data set on the growth of the escape room industry in the United States. If someone has additional data, we would welcome the added input.