Some Casinos are Betting on Virtual Reality, but is the Technology Really Catching on?
Virtual reality has created considerable buzz in the media, either through its new breakthroughs or just pure speculation. Most of the online gaming community knows about virtual reality, yet NVIDIA reports that only 1% of computers in 2016 were even able to accommodate the new technology. Is it possible that the most popular casino games will eventually support VR? The success of VR by itself and its integration into online casinos will ultimately determine what players will see in the future.
According to total sales statistics from 2016, the Samsung Gear VR headset was the leader in terms of success. Samsung had over 2.3 million units sold throughout the year, which displayed a huge gap between itself and the next competitor. The PlayStation VR was next in line with about 745,000 units sold, followed by 450,000 units of the HTC Vive. The Google Daydream View and the Oculus Rift round out the bottom of the list, selling 355,000 and 261,00 units respectively.
Not counting smaller independent designers of VR equipment, this brings the overall headsets sold to consumers in 2016 to around 4.1 million units. The positioning of these VR headsets has remained the same as it relates to market sales.
Even though these appear to be lofty numbers, the overall sales of VR devices were lower than projected and will more than likely follow the same trend in 2017. Players have reported that they are only willing to spend around $400 on a VR headset, which means that the price of devices will have to come down before major success is seen.
The lack of video games and web games that are specifically designed for virtual reality is another current drawback. The international video game industry is worth over $91.5 billion at present, but only the tiniest fraction of this belongs to VR. Players may be able to purchase the equipment, but they simply cannot find the variety and choice in virtual reality games that would otherwise be available in a more traditional format.
Virtual reality is an exciting innovation for many in the gaming community, but it still has a long road ahead before it can be a truly successful competitor for a share of the video game market.
The other major aspect to consider is how effectively this new technology will translate to virtual reality casinos or an additional collection of games at an online casino. There are numerous factors that would determine if the use of virtual reality can even be practical at casinos in the next few years.
Virtual reality has caught on with some players in the gaming community, but the technology is currently being used with video games revolving around movement and action. For example, at the upcoming E3 convention in June 2017, it is expected for Bethesda to announce a virtual reality port of its highly successful game, Fallout 4. The game involves a massive open-world concept and also has first-person-shooter elements that could potentially tie in with VR to make a more immersive experience.
However, when looking at casino games, the lack of these dynamics makes it a questionable endeavor. While the games at online casinos are entertaining, is it worth the effort to completely redesign a game selection to accommodate VR? The casino player is sedentary most of the time while playing any slot or table game, and the limited options to expand on this does not necessarily add any intrinsic value to the overall experience. Making any compelling case for this new type of casino gaming format would undoubtedly take much time and effort for unknown returns.
Another factor is the price tag for all parties involved. The top casino game software developers in the world have catalogs with hundreds of titles, but almost no developer has started to focus on virtual reality. This new niche in the gaming industry would create the need for an entire restructuring of a developer’s budget with no real data yet on the potential revenue. The online casino itself would have to undertake the financial requirements of adjusting its game selection to support VR and take a high-risk gamble at players taking advantage of the new technology.
Also, it comes down to the actual player. The online casino software is free to download and use, with players only spending money to make deposits and place bets. Virtual reality requires an added investment on the player’s part, as a VR headset is required to even experience this new version of gaming. With a conservative estimate of about $600 for most headsets, the player is now responsible for another piece of equipment to use VR casino games. With the technology, still somewhat in its infancy, this is a risky new avenue for both the player and the online casino.
Above all else, convenience is a priority that has led players to choose the online casino format over a land-based casino. Instead of having to spend time and money to travel, the player can simply access an online casino from home or play on their mobile device from almost anywhere. The addition of virtual reality would require that the headset is as convenient as the casino software, and this is not close to being practical at present. Players would need to be connected to the computer at home through a VR headset for the technology to work.
This is not a challenge, but the mobile casino format with VR is the big question mark. If a player is unable to use virtual reality with their mobile casino app, it is essentially taking away a large portion of the convenience that makes online casinos so popular in the first place. VR companies will more than likely address this down the road, but currently, the convenience of a virtual reality casino leaves much to be desired.
There is no question that technology is constantly evolving. It is one of the most exciting trends of the global economy, especially when it comes to gaming. Virtual reality has become more accessible in recent times and will almost certainly be a part of mainstream gaming culture once it proves to be affordable and compatible with more games. However, it is still tough to get a clear picture on how this will directly benefit the online casino format. It will take a concerted effort on the part of the player, casino, and developer to create an experience that is worth the high stakes bet.