iGaming and virtual reality – a match made in heaven?

Unless you live under a rock, you’ll have noticed the recent explosion of virtual reality (VR) devices and games over the last few months. Despite being a work in progress for the last few decades, VR really hit the headlines in 2015 thanks to Oculus Rift and its now owner, Facebook.

Although Oculus Rift and its peers have only been on general sales for a few months (some are barely out of the gate), the current forecasts by Statista suggest that just over 13 million headsets will be sold before the close of 2016. Given those projections are spread over a timeframe of less than six months, it’s fair to say that tech experts are confident that consumers will buy into the world of VR.

Naturally, with industries of all shapes and sizes working on VR-style products, it should come as little surprise that iGaming developers are now getting in on the act. Thanks to companies like Microgaming and its VR Roulette prototype, players are now beginning to see what their iGaming future may hold.

Playing Online is About the Games

However, while there are obvious benefits to offering a VR casino into which players can immerse themselves, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what players want. In fact, like a lot of industries that are jumping on the VR bandwagon, it’s not immediately clear whether casino-style games will actually benefit from this new technology.

As it stands today, the iGaming industry is worth £27 billion and while that’s someway short of the live gaming industry’s value, it proves it’s a thriving marketplace in its own right. If you ask any seasoned player why they ante up online, their stock responses are usually: ease and efficiency. For example, at bgo casino the dominant game is slots. On the homepage alone you’ll find a new player offer that pushes you towards its selection of 200+ slots. Once you get deeper into the site you’ll find multiple slot variants, many of which have autoplay and instant spin functions so that players can complete a betting round even more quickly.

When you add touch functionality for mobile players, it becomes clear that online gaming is focused on speed. This is something that not only appeals to the modern gamer, but separates online betting from live betting. With this being that case, it leads us to question whether players would actually want a more in-depth experience.

VR slots would likely take longer to play and while they might offer a greater amount of immersion, they would lack the speed that made them popular in the first place. In this case, slots with accelerated graphics such as bgo’s Quick Hit Platinum would probably not benefit from an injection of VR.

Can VR Match Reality?

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Although players go online to enjoy a high-octane way of betting, recent innovations such as Microgaming VR Roulette do suggest that “reality” is a desirable attribute for players. Indeed, when players join Mr Smith’s Auto Roulette Live or play at Vera John’s Casino Paris, the combination of HD webcams and RFID chips puts them at the helm of a live game.

However, as appealing as it is to play with a real dealer, players ante-up because they want some human interaction, not because they want the trappings of a brick-and-mortar casino. VR can only replicate social interaction to an extent, and while innovations are certainly impressive from a technical point of view, the dynamics of the industry would suggest that VR doesn’t gel with a player’s demands.

Whether or not VR becomes a hit in the iGaming industry remains to be seen, but as things stand at the moment it doesn’t seem as though it will be as popular as many might expect.

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