The Mobile World Congress has just wrapped up for another year, with an incredible 2300 companies participating this time around. Barcelona has raised an awful lot of talking points, but without question the future of incorporating Virtual Reality (VR) into mobile gaming and gambling has been the biggest issue. Those within the industry know all too well that VR has been projected for a few years now to be the ‘next big thing’. Yet the good news is the talk and speculation have started to deliver real products to be released very soon that look likely to add a completely new dimension to mobile gaming. It’s exciting times, but how is VR shaping up to specifically change the way people gamble online?
Virtual Reality is crucial to rejuvenating online gambling
One of the great paradoxes of recent years has been how despite more and more people taking up mobile gaming worldwide, revenue has been reported to have fallen as much as 20% over the last couple of years. As ever with global statistics they’re difficult to correlate for an exact figure, but the common consensus is that much of the recent uptake tend to play games for free rather than actually gamble real money. Obviously this presents a couple of problems for the industry.
Gaming companies are investing serious money in the best games and they don’t come cheap. They need to have games featuring top quality graphics and design to stand a chance in a highly competitive market, but the fact is that top drawer releases are now the industry standard rather than necessarily a premium product. For example, contemporary online Canadian gambling for beginners no longer involves starting off with easy titles. Total newcomers to slots and casino games expect top quality from the outset, and aren’t obliged to pay a penny for access to casual mobile play.
Are casino games struggling to stay relevant?
Key to this trend is that younger demographics are now much more used not just to stunning game quality, but also a much greater sense of immersion. Casino game production companies have tried to respond to this over the last couple of years by adding greater skill elements to slots, especially when concerning bonus games. However, the truth is that compared to current gen consoles and the best arcade style mobile games, in terms of immersive play events the best slots struggle to match those experiences. This is because slots and casino games are easy to play with ‘no end’, and this is where VR can really make an enormous difference.
Why the future is bright
Currently VR gambling brings in less that £50m (USD 60m) per year. By 2021 this is conservatively forecast to easily break £450m (USD 600m). Such stunning growth is going to be based upon the fact that VR is projected to be the first example of a new entertainment medium being focused upon mobile devices. Rather than plugging it into a console or TV, all the signs are that the technology will be focused upon mobile devices powering the next games, likely linked to consoles, PCs, and other ‘accessories’ via wi-fi or next generation Bluetooth.
The current games available have already seen a good uptake given the small number of people with ready access to the better quality VR technology. Forecasts predict that the unit price of powerful VR headsets is not only set to plummet over the next couple of years, but also be offered to smartphone customers as part of their contract package.
To put it simply, the exposure of VR games is set to explode, and the high quality hardware will see casino games become a much more social and enjoyable interactive media. After all, many people enjoy shooting craps, spinning slots, and playing roulette in brick and mortar casinos, so, providing the software is to a high enough standard, there’s no reason that people won’d enjoy it from their own living rooms too.
So what can we take away from Barcelona?
In conclusion, the industry is totally committed to making VR work. Hundreds of millions have already been spent investing in making the technology feasible for gambling, and there’s absolutely no reason that this time VR will be another White Elephant platform. Rather, it’s going to utterly change the way people enjoy casual gambling, especially when new games with social elements are released. It’s going to be fascinating to see what the stars of the 2018 show are going to be, but, one thing is certain, the overwhelming majority will likely be based around VR.