Virtual reality (VR) is, by most people’s estimations, the future. Don’t we mean it’s the future of gaming? No, we don’t. If we take the assumptions of financial firm Deloitte, VR is the ‘billion-dollar niche’ that could revolutionise a variety of industries. From gaming to TV, movies, advertising and education, Deloitte’s report suggests that VR will alter the way we experience the non-material world around us. In fact, when you combine these ideas with revenue projections that say the industry will be worth between $16 billion (Virtual Reality Market Report) and $37 billion (SuperData report), it’s easy to see VR’s potential!
VR Already a Part of the iGaming Industry
Naturally, with consumers now able to enjoy virtually real experiences thanks to products such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR, casino developers have started to take note. In fact, as is often the case, iGaming has been at the forefront of this tech movement for the last couple of years. Take, for instance, Microgaming’s VR Roulette. First previewed in 2015, the game was initially designed to study the potential of VR in the iGaming arena. Using Oculus Rift and Leap 3D control technology, Microgaming was able to develop software that could track a player’s movement and project it onto a virtual table.
From this early effort, NetEnt has joined the race to innovate by developing a VR version of its ever-popular slot game, Gonzo’s Quest. First showcased at ICE Totally Gaming back in February 2017, the new game featured all the old slot’s features but placed the player inside the exotic environment instead of outside it. Although only a prototype, NetEnt CEO Per Eriksson believes that WebVR will be advanced enough to run such a game by some point in 2018. When this happens, NetEnt is ready to distribute it across its network of casino sites which, in turn, means you could be playing a VR slot by next year.
Hold on to Your VR Headsets
If this happens, it’ll only be a taste of what’s to come. As technology improves and developers become more creative, we’re going to be flooded with VR products covering casino, poker, sports betting and more. Should we be excited? Well, the simple answer is yes. We’ve already seen a move towards greater authenticity and immersion over the last decade thanks to live dealer games. VR is simply the next step in this process. Beyond creating a more interactive and therefore entertaining gaming world, VR casino games will open up a new sense of gameplay.
Take Gonzo’s Quest VR as an example. In the early prototype, you can take a stroll around the trees and greenery around the reels. In the future, this ability to go in, on and around the main game could lead you to new ways to win. For example, you could wander into the jungle and find a mini-game where it’s possible to pick up free spins and multipliers. Building on this, the idea of a traditional iGaming lobby could soon become a thing of the past. Instead of clicking tabs and scrolling through endless lists of games, we may soon be able to enter a site and walk around as if we were in a real casino.
A New Platform to Play On
In simple terms, traditional notions of iGaming will soon become a thing of the past when it comes to the way we search, play and win. In fact, we can take this a step further and look specifically at games where you compete against other players and not the house. VR poker is already starting to develop as a niche thanks to Oculus Rift. Although it’s somewhat slow and clunky at the moment, technology will inevitably improve and that could mean a complete shift in the way we play online poker.
Indeed, just as the current style of play has changed many of the strategic elements of poker over the last 15 or so years, VR poker could do the same. Instead of being able to hide micro-movements and expressions, VR players may be able to pick tells on their opponents in the same way they would in a live game. Basically, when it comes to the role of VR in iGaming, the simple answer is that it’s going to change the industry markedly. Everything from the way we see, feel and interact with our favourite games is going to change in the next decade. Whether it’s via our PCs and laptops or mobile devices and gaming consoles, online betting is going to become more interactive and entertaining.