It is well-established that the live dealer section of the online gambling industry is a massive contributing factor to its revenue growth in recent years. Though, the option of playing classic table games against a croupier is not a new thing. It has been available since 2003 when Playtech decided to bring this concept into reality. However, it wasn’t until the rise of Evolution Gaming and smartphones that live casinos in the UK became a gambling mainstay.
Today, playing against a dealer is one of the preferred gaming options for most players, and platforms boast lobbies that feature over one hundred live tables. That said, operators are still looking for ways to reel in younger demographics, who look for a greater level of immersion than what the current online casino experience can offer. Thus, gambling companies hope that new technologies, such as VR/AR, will keep them on their upward revenue trajectory.
Current State and Limitations
VR gaming has been around since 1995 when Nintendo launched the Virtual Boy, a 32-bit tabletop console that incorporated stereoscopic 3D graphics. This brave experiment failed, causing the genre to go into hiding until 2016 when Facebook released Oculus Rift, and HTC put out VIVE. Again, these did not take off as expected. Therefore, many concluded that the masses are not yet ready for growing tech like VR.
The online casino sphere faces the same challenges as standard game developers, in that players do not want to spend money on headsets and expensive computers needed to run such software. So, virtual reality has yet to get a foothold in the sphere. The process will likely unravel over the next decade as prices drop and the genre gains wider acceptance.
Microgaming Debuted VR Roulette in 2016
Isle of Man juggernaut Microgaming, the company behind the original online casino software, was the first to attempt to bring VR technology into the iGaming space. In February of 2016, they received the Innovator of the Year award at the International Gaming Awards for their work on the Oculus Rift platform.
However, despite fancy presentations and YouTube videos of its gameplay, Microgaming’s VR roulette is still unavailable at gambling sites. It utilizes the Oculus Rift DK 2 headset and the Leap-Motion 3D Controller, but due to low demand and the hassles required to host it, no operators feature this title in their catalogs.
Slots Are Taking the VR Plunge
Now, if live casinos and VR technology seem like a natural fit, virtual reality and online slots are a less intuitive pairing. Yet, developers believe that there is a market for this combo, and they are breaking ground by incorporating this technology into reel-spinning action.
Swedish provider NetEnt, which now operates under the Evolution banner, has taken the plunge by bringing VR into one of its most popular titles, Gonzo’s Quest. The virtual reality version of the classic will debut toward the end of April, featuring the same gameplay mechanics as the original boasted by riveting 3D environments and a very animated Gonzalo Pizarro.