Two weeks ago I had the honor of delivering the keynote address at WroEscape (pronounced vrah-escape), Poland’s first escape room conference in Wrocław (pronounced vrahts-wahf).
While visiting I:
- played 7 escape rooms (reviews to come)
- met hundreds of people who love escape rooms
- listened to some fantastic talks
- gave a talk of my own
- visited a beautiful city
Escape rooms in Wrocław
Literally everyone that I met in Poland wanted to know two things:
- Why is there a public escape room ticketing system in the United States?
- How do Polish escape rooms compare to other cities in Europe or the United States?
The biggest difference between Polish escape rooms and every other escape room that I have seen anywhere in the world is pricing.
Polish escape rooms cost approximately 150 Zloty, +/- 50 Zloty per team.
In US Dollars, that’s roughly $41 + / – $13 per team.
In the United States and the other European cities that I’ve visited, $25 – 45 per player is normal.
With that in mind, the economics of escape rooms in Poland are fundamentally different from anywhere else that I’ve traveled to date. I have to admit that I did not fully realize this until the end of my trip… and I am quite certain that at least two of the other speakers did not fully appreciate the price difference either.
Most Polish escape room companies build with much tighter budgets than even tight-budget games in the United States. However, rent and labor costs seem considerably lower in Poland.
As with any city that I’ve visited, I saw a wide range of games. Some I loved and will highly recommend when I publish my reviews. Others were pretty average. Regardless of how much I personally enjoyed each game, I saw a lot of ingenuity.
I’ll say this confidently: If we’re talking pure value of cost to quality, Poland wins. It’s crazy how inexpensive escape rooms are in Poland when compared to the rest of the world.
The folks behind WroEscape know how to put on a show.
This event was held in the exhibition hall at Centennial Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The facility and surroundings were beautiful.
The trade show floor was small, but interesting.
WroEscape employed a live translator for the talks. They translated via earpiece. Polish talks were instantly translated into English and vice versa.
Sergey Kuznetsov, the founder of the escape room franchise Claustrophobia, delivered an interesting and candid talk on his business’s triumphs, failures, and future plans. I don’t want to paraphrase him since a video will publish in the future. Also, I have a ton of respect for anyone who delivers a talk in their second language.
Agata Milik gave a fantastic talk from her perspective as a player. Her talk could have been delivered in any country that I’ve visited and been just as accurate and relevant. Also, Agata and I played a few games together. She was a fantastic translator and puzzle partner.
Lawyer Wojciech Wawrzak gave an overview of legal issues that affect escape room owners. I have to admit that I did not watch the whole talk. I found it interesting, but I needed a break and Polish law isn’t relevant to my life. However, I love that this talk happened.
All of this concluded with a crazy fountain show choreographed to music outside of the exhibition hall… because if you have a giant fountain, you should probably use it.
Some final thoughts & thank yous
Conference organizer Ewa Salamon, Jakub and Bartosz from LockMe.pl, and the guys from Exit 19 put on a fantastic conference.
Ewa, thank you for planning every detail of my trip.
Thank you to all of my teammates: Agata, Wojciech, Michal, Marcin, Wojciech, Sergey, Magda, and Michal. I had so much fun escaping with you all, even if we didn’t speak the same language… more on that soon.
Wrocław is a beautiful city. If you have a chance to visit, you should.