The gambling industry has been no stranger to innovation. Since the early days of the Internet, online gambling has grown to become a multi-billion dollar industry, attracting punters from across the world with a range of services and attractive promotions. Constant innovation, development and iteration has seen mobile gambling stay at the forefront of new tech since the 90’s.
When mobile technologies improved, casinos were similarly quick to adapt, introducing apps and mobile versions of their sites to embrace these new opportunities and shape how players interact with their games.
Now, at the dawn of virtual reality technology, casinos and game developers are similarly positioning to take advantage of the new tech. But is this likely the future of mobile gambling, or is VR nothing more than a passing fad?
Early VR Movers
With VR technology becoming increasingly mainstream, some would have said it was only a matter of time before casino and game developers got on board. Two of the biggest independent games developers, Micro-gaming and NetEnt, have already done a trial of their pilot VR games, received to rave reviews and industry awards.
Microgaming unveiled its Virtual Roulette game at ICE Totally Gaming 2016, set up within a purpose-built CRYO lab. The game is set at a futuristic roulette table in space, in part a demonstration of what could be capable by twinning VR technology with casino classics. Using the Oculus Rift DK 2 with an accompanying Leap Motion 3D controller, the game is able to monitor and track the movements of the individual, and then reflect those within the game environment.
Not to be outdone, their close competitor NetEnt has also been quick to move into the virtual reality space. Their classic slot, Gonzo’s Quest, has become their first commercially launched virtual reality slot, allowing players to enjoy a more immersive experience in amongst the game’s theme and characters. When you consider the vivid backdrop to Gonzo’s Quest, it’s easy to see why this has also been met with praise from players and industry insiders alike.
Where game developers go, the casinos follow. Because casinos tend to license their games from third parties like NetEnt and Microgaming, it now looks to be only a matter of time before these games are available more widely.
Casinos Adopting The Tech
With game developers signed up to develop VR games, the technology is already well on its way to mass implementation. But in order for VR games to reach players, the casinos too need to be on board.
Through licensing arrangements with game developers, casinos of all shapes and sizes access the leading games on offer from companies like Microgaming and NetEnt. While many of the major forces in the market have yet to pounce, a number are already eyeing up these developments with interest, with a view to introducing these games as the technology becomes more established. Once the major casinos get on board, it seems likely that VR could become the next big thing in mobile gaming. And names like partycasino are already looking into these games.
A spokesperson for partycasino said they were monitoring developments closely, with a view to launching their own selection of virtual reality casino games in line with their live dealer casino games in the near future.
“Virtual reality has the potential to reshape how players interact with our games, from virtual reality table games to slots. We’re continuing to keep a close eye on how the technology develops, and we anticipate a significant expansion in our virtual reality footprint in the near future.”
While clearly one of the major players, partycasino are not alone. A number of other casinos have already expressed interested in VR games, and it seems likely that they will be at the forefront of the drive to get more people immersing themselves in VR game worlds.
But one significant hurdle remains – technology. While VR tech itself has come on leaps and bounds, there are clear issues with hardware. At present, the supporting headsets and controllers remain someway off critical mass, and remain comparatively expensive technology relative to the software available for them.
While virtual reality might not quite be at the stage of being ready for a wider roll out, it remains a key area of focus for casinos and game developers. As hardware becomes more affordable and mainstream, it could well be the next big thing to shape the way gamblers get involved in their favorite games.