We continue our ongoing look at digital gambling and casinos with a contrary opinion that virtual reality, or VR, might not be a key to its future.
While there’s no shortage of excitement about the potential of virtual reality to revolutionize the way we enjoy our casino games, the fact is that there’s a long way yet to go. It seems like every day there’s a new report published projecting the current very modest income from VR gaming to become enormous within a few years. Currently the global revenue amounts to less than $50m – tiny in the grand scheme of online gambling – so is it realistically going to become close to a $1bn facet of the gambling trade by 2021?
It’s easy to pick big numbers out the sky, but the truth is that while a huge amount has been invested into VR there’s still much progress needed for the technology to really take off. While it would be unnecessarily negative to just write off VR as another false dawn, let’s take a look at some of the sizable issues that need to be addressed before such grandiose predictions for the future should be considered likely.
Exposure To The Tech Is A Massive Issue
The reason why smartphone slots gaming has become so popular is very simple. Millions of people have access to devices that can power the gaming apps. Remember when the first smartphones came to market they were seen as luxury devices–but became relatively mainstream within just a couple of years, and the norm within just a few. To date there’s no sign that the long predicted drop in the price of VR technology is on the horizon, and the truth is that what’s currently available at retail isn’t quite as amazing as developers are hyping it up to be.
Sure,progress takes time, but this doesn’t affect the simple truth that if people cannot access the headsets at a reasonable price, then why should they bother in the first place? Unlike phones which have multiple essential purposes, VR so far is little more than a very expensive gaming accessory that appeals to a pretty small niche. The onus really ought to be on coupling VR as close as possible with smartphones–possibly even bundling the hardware into phone contract deals. Yet once more there’s no sign of this happening yet.
Slow Game Development
The most popular slots games attract millions of free and money players each day. In many cases these are now available in numerous forms, often including specialized casino game tutorials on multiple formats. Production companies put huge amounts of effort into their flagship titles to keep their fans interested, and obviously this includes a great deal of both financial expenditure and time commitment.
Which begs the question of quite why companies ought to continue investing such effort into games which by the looks of things may not have very many players at all? Sure the major companies such as Microgaming and PlayTech need to demonstrate that they’re at the cutting edge, and while impressive as stand-alone novelties the truth is that to release a dozen titles a month will require a huge commitment on their part. VR games are much more difficult to program –so why go to that effort in the long run when they will have a tiny fraction of the exposure a typical slots game will receive?
So Far There’s No Sign Of Other Rumored VR Casino Features
Sure it’s still early-ish days but one may have expected by now that the casinos would have demonstrated some beta versions of how VR can enhance the social experience. Literally since the start of the social media boom casinos have been desperate to add this dimension to their sites, and to date literally all have failed. The hope (or pipe dream) is that VR could allow people to interact and play together much like a real life casino visit, developing gaming communities that will make gambling an even more mainstream leisure activity.
Right now that looks to be a very long way off indeed. After all without enough players, again what’s the point in spending millions developing empty 3D forums?
So Are The VR Days Numbered Already?
It’s much too early to call time on VR right now. There are masses of examples of tech being dismissed by the experts just to see a huge uptake in popularity from the customers themselves. Yet there’s no question that in order for VR to really stake a claim to being the future of casino gaming, it’s paramount that more people are exposed to the technology. Currently this isn’t happening –and the clock is ticking.