How to Choose a Theme for Escape Room - Popular ER Designs
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Date: 23.03.2021

How to choose a theme for escape room

How to choose a theme for escape room
One of the first challenges every new escape room owner faces is finding the right topic. Will it be horror, adventure, or a futuristic room?

Our experience shows that there are escape room ideas that function well under budgetary constraints, and, vice versa, there are topics that look good only if you invest a lot to get a quality game.

The choice of topic is often location-specific. For example, horrors are very popular in Egypt, while rooms with erotic content are more suitable to the places like Vegas or Amsterdam. Historical escape rooms are a great choice for cities popular with tourists and city center locations. What if we try and analyze the appeal for a run-of-the-mill town without any location specifics? What topic do we choose?
We’ve run a survey among escape room owners and compared the preferences of our customers all over the world over the past 6 years. The results are as follows (in percentages):
The main task for horror room is to create truly scary props
These data are not a suit-all magical recipe for every owner but just a global trend: adventure, horrors, magical and family rooms are the most popular worldwide. If you are interested in learning more about the hottest ER themes, you can read our other article Popular escape room themes.

If you wish to find the 100% right escape room topic for your location, you should consider the following factors.

Your business type

Does your business consist of escape rooms only or do you have also additional stuff like axe throwing, VR, or lasertag?

If you are strictly an ER enthusiast, analyze the trends for your existing rooms. If you are going to open your first room, find the most successful competitor in your location to analyze the appeal of their escape room ideas.

If your business is diversified, select the topic to match the mood of your other entertainments. A family ER won’t look good among the people who come to you to throw axes. If you run a kids/family entertainment center, a horror-themed ER may be not very successful.


Our experience shows that there are escape room theme ideas that function well under budgetary constraints, and, vice versa, there are topics that look good only if you invest a lot to get a quality game.

The topics that require a lot of diverse escape room props, special effects, lighting, sounds, details, etc, will cost more. At the same time, there is a lot of more affordable options. If you feel that they will be popular and competitive in your place, you’d do well not to overspend.

Say, your budget is about USD 15 to 20 thousand. Your School of Magic room will probably disappoint your audience. However, you’ll have a great pirate-themed game at the same budget.

Choose wisely in accordance with your financial opportunities and be sure to consider all other factors.


Are you located in the city center, at the outskirts, or in a shopping mall? What are your surroundings?

If you are located near a college campus, a youth-themed ER will probably be a success with your audience. Adventure and family rooms are always popular in shopping malls. Are there a lot of tourists in your place? A great idea is to open a history-designed ER and include your local lore and legends.

The topic must be in accordance with your surroundings: if you have a premise in a cellar with stone walls, a medieval theme is a right fit. If you have smooth white walls in your place, opt for more modern topics – then you won’t have to invest in costly repairs.

Audience preferences

One of the most frequent mistakes owners make is to consider their own preferences, not the audience preferences. Say, you’re a Star Wars geek: it’s not a guarantee that others are going to share your tastes.

Take notice that the audience preferences change over time. For example, such themes as bank robbing, jail, or morgue are now a thing of the past. It’s not a good idea to run such a room and hope for lots of visitors.

Take a look at our survey data (above), maybe you’ll find a lot to think about there.


A competition analysis, with the right approach, might just be the foundation of your commercial success. There is a number of competitor analysis methods, but be sure to consider the following:
• How many other escape room owners are in your place?
• What ER topics do they have?
• Are they popular? What are the most popular, what are the least popular?

A step-by-step guide to analyzing your competition:
1) Compile the list of the most popular ERs on the same topic in your location.
2) Visit the Top 5 rooms.
3) Make a list of criteria to consider when visiting the rooms.
4) Make a plan to surpass the competitors for each criteria for your future room.
5) Stick to the plan.

If you know that horrors are a success, use it. Let your new room be even scarier. Do the players in your location like ghost stories? They are sure to love a vampire-themed room. It is not a direct competition, but you are sure to get a lot of visitors and a quick return on your investments.

It stands to reason that having the same storyline as your competitors spells failure. But say, your competitors have a very popular ghost-themed room? Another horror-designed room may be successful as well, but if it is about vampires. It is not a direct competition, but you are sure to get a lot of visitors and a quick return on your investments. Actually, there are many reasons why horror themes are popular and attract customers.

We have run through the main considerations for choosing the escape game theme of your new room. The better your aim, the more success your project will have. Good luck!

If you need assistance choosing a right ER for you, please contact us, we will be happy to help.
Date: 23.03.2021

Rating: 4,9


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Do you currently own any escape rooms?
Not yet
Which themed Escape Rooms do you already own?
Size of the space avalible for the Escape Room
Which theme of ER are you interested in?
Where are your ER located?/ Where do you expect your ER to be located?
city centre
shopping mall
city outskirts
Population number in your city
< 50k
What is your budget for Escape Room?
< 10000 $
10000-20000 $
20000-30000 $
> 30000-50000 $
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