Following an initial surge of interest in late 2016 and early 2017, the virtual reality market has reduced to a gentle simmer of late. As developers and manufacturers start to evolve and perfect their products, consumers are starting to accept that the future of gaming is here. Indeed, what was once seen as a niche, potentially novel sector of the industry, is now becoming “the industry”. Therefore, the reactionary spending has stopped and the lines of innovation and interest now appear to be levelling off slightly. Of course, the market of virtual reality and its offshoots is still extremely young, but we’re already starting to see early products mature and, in turn, inspire new ideas. Perhaps one of the most intriguing to emerge in recent months is virtual reality casino gaming.
iGaming a Good Bet for Virtual Reality Developers
Although the industry could technically be classed as a subgenre of “online gaming”, there’s no doubt it’s a powerful entity in its own right. In fact, this is what makes any potential developments in this are so interesting. As it stands, the iGaming industry as it’s known is worth almost $67 billion. In Canada specifically, the casino industry as a whole generates $7.7 billion per annum according to Statista’s data, of which online operators contribute more than 25%. Essentially, online betting sites have mass-market appeal, which means any new virtual reality concepts could be adopted by other gaming sectors over time. In fact, there is already evidence of the industry’s ability to take the latest tech and use it in some interesting ways.
For example, today’s exciting online casinos all feature an array of live dealer games. A casino in point would be Betway. Gamers are currently able to find a full suite of live dealer games powered by HD webcams and RFID technology. Using small microsensors built in each playing card, games such as blackjack can not only be broadcast to players, but digitally tracked. This combination of live action and digital validation is something that’s not only made live dealer games safe and secure, but highly engaging. In fact, many would suggest that live dealer games have paved the way for a new era in casino gaming. In much the same way video games have become more interactive and immersive, casino software suppliers are now embracing mixed realities.
Augmenting the Online Casino Experience
Naturally, with major brands such as HTC, Oculus and Sony currently leading a hardware market set to be worth $40 billion by 2020, casino companies have ventured into this arena. Already the likes of NetEnt and Microgaming have taken table games and made them into virtually real experiences, and they have also given slots a whole new dimension. However, beyond virtual reality casino games, perhaps the most interesting avenue of exploration is augmented reality casinos. Pokémon Go not only proved to be a cash cow for Nintendo (revenue topped $1.2 billion in 2017), it blurred the lines between our world and the gaming world. If casino developers can take this dynamic and run with it, some neat little products could emerge.
Instead of seeing the reels of a slot machine spinning on a mobile screen, players could project the images onto a wall in front of them. Beyond that, a whole augmented reality casino could be set-up in your living room. By beaming virtual tables onto real tables, you could move around the room and spin roulette wheels, play blackjack hands and even shoot some dice in a game of craps. What’s nice about augmented reality is that it fits into the mobile iGaming trend as well as the desire for greater realism. Essentially, if developers can create stable augmented casino products, they’d be killing two birds with one stone. This, in turn, could bring a completely new dynamic to the industry. While the trajectory of technological innovation often has a way of surprising us, it certainly seems as though mixed reality casinos are set to become a reality in the coming years.