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How Far Are We From Virtual Vegas?

posted in: MISC Tech, Tech Trends

 

Is VR going to bring a new boom to the virtual gambling industry?

 

Virtual Reality is transforming every single entertainment industry out there, from movies to book publishing, music, videogames, animation, and yes, even Porn.

VR and AR (Augmented Reality) – which are increasingly overlapping onto what Microsoft refers to as the Mixed Reality spectrum – are going to continue to disrupt and change the way we do things and interact with each other – both online and offline. So it is hardly surprising to find that online gambling is also predicted to become a part of this newly forming ecosystem. In fact, some are predicting that VR is going to cause a boom in the casino industry, specifically with regard to slot arcades.

Virtual Reality has disrupted every one of the entertainment industries Click To Tweet

An early example of this was CasinoVR, where you could play poker in a virtual casino accessible via Samsung Gear or Oculus. As you can see from the video below, it isn’t exactly the most mind-blowing virtual experience you’re likely to come across – the action is limited to handling digital cards, interacting with a dealer, and looking around a room, so don’t expect the plot of a Scorsese film.

Simple and casual gaming experiences often attract the most users Click To Tweet

Strangely though, in VR it’s often the simple and mundane experiences that prove the most compelling for users; I remember talking to the guys at Linden Lab a while back about their recently launched social VR platform Sansar, and they described that in early demos the most popular activity people chose was picking up and fluffing Ikea pillows scattered on a virtual sofa. A lot of the time it also comes down to the ability to interact with others, and the game let you play in real time with friends, in VR.

 


But of course the potential of casino gaming moving onto the Virtual Reality space is much bigger than: CNBC recently reported an estimate that VR gaming wagers would rise by a staggering 800 percent in the next five years, with an anticipated volume of bets exceeding $520 million by 2021. Even if these numbers turn out to be on the optimistic side, it is clear that this is a market that will not be ignored.

We will start seeing more sophisticated virtual gambling experiences Click To Tweet

With technology advancing in leaps and bounds, we will surely start seeing much more sophisticated gaming experiences across the board, which will not be restricted to card playing. In fact, slot machines are likely to play a big part in this landscape. Like in gaming, it is often easy to focus on the blockbuster-type experiences which overwhelm you with state-of-the-art graphics, but it’s simple, casual games like Candy Crush, FarmVille and Pokémon GO that attract the most users and consequently rake in the most revenue. The same holds true for gambling, where slot machines are consistently the most sought-after activity, both offline and online. In fact, a 2015 report indicated that nearly half of all gaming revenue in Las Vegas came from slots.

Nearly half of the revenues in Vegas come from slot machines Click To Tweet

People who aren’t attached to this particular gaming genre may be surprised at the variety of popular slot titles on the web, but things these days go well beyond the basic 7’s, BAR icons and cherries you might picture. There are vivid games featuring fun animation built on themes ranging from superheroes to made up characters to rock bands. In short, there’s enough variety to keep things interesting – and this is likely to increase significantly in virtual reality.

We could soon experience a boom in Virtual slots arcades Click To Tweet

As much as poker defines the allure of casino, as easy as blackjack is to try out, and as much fun as games like baccarat, craps, and roulette look even to amateurs, it’s the slot machines that are doing the most business. There’s really no reason for that to change when the industry moves into more immersive formats such as VR.

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Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio and @techtrends_tech on Twitter.