Does GameScent pass the sniff test?

Star Trek set the bar for an entertainment future with their Holodeck. As real life will constantly chase science fiction, we’ll see swings and we’ll see misses. Will the GameScent platform be something that will be a step towards the Holodeck future.

GameScent is a non-intrusive means of incorporating scents into your gaming experience. The platform utilizes two pieces of hardware to provide this experience. The first is an internet connected adapter which captures in-game audio and relays the data to an AI to determine whether or not an action justifies triggering the second element of the system. The atomizer houses up to 5 bottles of scent oils which will be fired when the appropriate signals are received from the adapter. Ideally you will be playing a game that will incorporate most of the scents loaded into the atomizer.

The setup for the system is pretty simple, the adapter acts as a passthrough between your gaming device and your video/audio output. For audiophiles, optical audio isn’t supported and for retro gamers you’ll need to invest in a 3.5mm adapter or a HDMI converter. The app that is required to use the system is pretty intuitive and I run into any issues during the setup process. Once everything was ready it was finally time to add some scents to my gaming.

The system comes with 6 slots and 5 scents. Gunfire, Explosions, Storm, Forest, and Racing. The 6th “scent” technically is a neutralizing scent, which is used when your gaming session is over and you need to reset to a “neutral” smell. In order to give the system a proper test, I selected games which I believe would most likely feature elements that would trigger the scents. The following paragraphs will give my personal experience with the platform, both ups and downs.


How do you quantify the smells of racing, for me it’s the smell of burning rubber. What I got out of the scent module of the GameScent was more akin to motor oil. Not necessarily my first choice but I guess it makes sense. I tried two titles to test the Racing scent and they were Mario Kart 8 (Switch) and Burnout Paradise. I decided to play one a grand prix and we were off to the (literal) races. While go-karts don’t have the most horsepower, the game audio does feature plenty of engine sound. Unfortunately the only scent that triggered during my playthrough was the storm scent…and it would exclusively happen when I get a burst of speed, usually after hitting a speed strip or a ramp. So I opted for a second opinion in the form of Burnout Paradise (PS4), developed by Criterion Games (Some of whom went to form Three Fields Entertainment, the developer of the upcoming Wreckreation). Would I finally get the smell of racing as a cruise through the streets of Paradise City? No…I experienced the same issue where Racing didn’t trigger, but I did get bursts of Explosion and Storm especially when I am boosting in game..


This is probably the part of the review where I should get a lot of people telling me I need to touch grass a bit more. The scent of the Forest generated by the atomizer wasn’t something I could discern as “forest-y”…I was expecting a pine smell and I didn’t get that. My subject for this scent was…Genshin Impact (iOS). The setup required an extra step in the form of USB-C to AV adapter. Since we were testing Forest, the region I would roam would be the rainforests of Sumeru, the game’s 4th region. Teleporting to the Apam Woods, I spent a good 10+ minutes climbing the sloping hills, in my audio I would hear ambient noises of critters and frogs croaking. Periodically peering at the atomizer (because when it is triggered there is no sound, which doesn’t break immersion), I saw no activity. It was only when it rained did Storm triggered. I tried hopping to another forested region in Sumeru, the less traditional Mawtiyima Forest which is composed of giant fungi. Like Apam Woods, Mawtiyima Forest also didn’t trigger the Forest scent.

Gunfire and Explosion

This one is a twofer since the latter rarely triggers without the former (Yes, I’m aware of fire based explosions…work with me here). That game I am using is one that I dutifully log into at around 4pm…Shift Up’s Goddess of Victory: NIKKE. Like their upcoming Stellar Blade, I am absolutely playing it for the “story”. Anyways this title features androids fighting sentient machines in an attempt to retake the earth’s surface (kinda hilarious this is the inversion of Stellar Blade’s plot…where humanity is situated in space, rather than underground). Plenty of gunfire as the game features six classes of armaments (machine guns, submachine gun, shotguns, sniper rifles, automatic rifles, and rocket launchers), as sentient machines, the Rapture death knells usually include a healthy amount of explosions…so we should be smelling gunpowder and brimstone right? Yes, GameScent did work as expected in this scenario although the atomizer’s default firing conditions were less than desired. These two scents definitely spawned a lot of questions for me when I attended a preview event for this product. For me as someone who’s lived a relatively sheltered life on a coastal city of America, I have no scent profile for gunfire and explosions, also the system’s cooldown on firing the atomizer is good in the sense it isn’t trying to blow through your scent oils, but in certain situations you almost want the scents to be heavier and linger in the air. The team at GameScent did mention that advance controls could be considered for future updates and that its current constraints were meant to insure they weren’t being accused of draining your scent oil supplies to re-up often (Each bottle of scent oil is good for up to 4-5k fires).


This one was harder to find a specific game to test…yet it was the one that fired the most frequently. The strangest part of this scent was it triggering whenever there was a sudden burst of speed. When I think Storm I don’t necessarily think of fast movement. The strangest place this scent triggered was actually on the title screen of Genshin Impact. For those who have no frame of reference to that…it takes place in an idyllic, almost heavenly realm as a paved path is slowly constructed, ultimately ending with a stone door awaiting for the user to “enter”.

Clean Air

This scent has to be triggered specifically in the app. Essentially this “scent” neutralizes any residual smells fired by the atomizer. Like the other scents there is a cooldown on firing, (roughly 70ish seconds). It works, but appears to have an effective range, especially in larger rooms. I had my setup in my dining room and after I completed my tests, I would trigger the clean air, and power down and walk away. The scent of the GameScent did linger as I headed back upstairs. Perhaps this would be more effective in a smaller room, but in a more open area it’s tough to control this scent’s effectiveness.

Final Thoughts

So GameScent is a bit of a mixed bag. Its setup is simple, the system “works”, but if you have certain expectations, you will best not let it run wild. As someone who follows a wild variety of folks, GameScent managed to come into the conversation where some folks would make incredulous, but possibility humorous claims of how playing “adult titles” with the system would be a gamechanger and another one streamer mentioned they picked up the product in hopes of enhancing her horror gaming experience. I think the team needs to be a bit more digilent what the system is and isn’t capable of. From conversations with the team at a preview event, they are promising new scents coming in the future, including ocean, sports arena, fresh cut grass and blood (this would justify the horror streamer’s purchase, hopefully the GameScent folks will send them a bottle when it launches).

In regards to my test, I’m more than willing to reconduct it after another 6 to 12 months. Given it’s an AI driven platform, it would be interesting to see if there will be backend improvements as more and more data is being fed to it. Also while it’s not necessarily the most scalable solution perhaps, since everyone’s scent profiles are different perhaps variants of the scent oils might help further personalize the experience. This would be inline with an initiative the product team is looking to implement, the inclusion of the GameScent community to consult on the concoction of future scent oils.

As of right now if your gaming experience can be narrowed down to the 5 scents the current system offers, perhaps you might want to incorporate it into your setup. Otherwise I would not recommend the system until additional scent options are available. Unfortunately this isn’t getting us closer to the future Star Trek proposed, but they’re looking in the right direction.

GameScent provided us with product for evaluation purposes.