The future has arrived and Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are with us, but who has the developmental acumen to make these technologies entertaining and essential to online gamers?
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Although tentative steps are being made into the market by the gaming industry, it seems that the gambling sector has the most concrete plan in terms of giving customers what they want.
It will come as no surprise that the gambling industry is very invested in AR and VR technology. With online and mobile gambling continually growing over the past 15 years, online casinos are keen to offer the next level in iGaming experiences. This year’s International Casino Expo (ICE) was perhaps the best indication of what is to come. One of the impressive game developers at ICE were NetEnt, the company behind the Aliens, Starburst and Jack Hammer video slots. Their games have featured on sites such as award-winning 32Red casino, making them one of the key performers in this expanding market. Their arcade presentation of Jack’s VR World showcased what slots gaming will look like in the near future: players were able to put on the VR helmet and enter the popular slot game Jack and the Beanstalk.
The most spectacular presentation at the expo came from Microgaming, the team that provides the magic behind online slot machines Jurassic Park, Hot As Hades and Playboy. Microgaming have been at the forefront of online gaming since they developed the first true online casino back in 1994. At ICE they were using the Oculus VR DK2 headset and Leap Motion hand-tracking system that enabled players to experience a Virtual Roulette Table, complete with robot croupier. VR Roulette is just the next step for Microgaming, who have already developed the Multi Wheel Roulette Gold game – this adaptation of the classic roulette table enables players to join a single betting platform to place a bet on up to 8 roulette wheels simultaneously. The game has been popular thanks to promotions such as new players getting $32 free for every $20 deposited at 32Red, casinoeuro offering to double your $150 deposit and VideoSlots providing free play, but with no monetary reward.
While there is still intense rivalry to produce the best player experience with live online casino games, dealers and slots, the pressure is now on to create a premier VR casino environment. Software developers Lucky VR have created SlotsMillion, a VR casino on the 80th floor of a futuristic city, where players can interact at the casino bar. Now that RiftSino have also developed a VR casino that replicates the Vegas style and features a playable blackjack game, the competition in this market is strong.
VR and AR are expected to become a billion-dollar business by 2020 according to Digi-Capital and everyone from Facebook to Wall Street is expected to become a part of it. Although there is an abundance of apps already available or coming soon, for gamers there is just a modicum amount of accessible games. A host of gaming titles are coming for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Microsoft HoloLens and others, but these are dependent on owning a next-gen console or a top-of-the-range Mac or PC. The key to unlocking the market potential of AR and VR lies in free-to-play apps and online development.
Changing the perspective of sports
Although AR and VR won’t allow you to become an AFL player and perform for your favorite team, it will allow you join them pitch-side. With VR setups throughout sporting events, users will be able to select distinctive angles and locations with which to view the action. Combined with a system to make real-time bets, this VR development looks set to completely change the way we view sports.
For those not happy to simply view and place a wager on the action, more competitive games are in development. These would allow players to don their VR helmet, link up and engage in a competitive game such as ping-pong. Although it’s early days, it’s not hard to envision these competitive player-to-player games developing to look more like disc battles or battle grids featured in the movie Tron. Add to this the option to place money on your own abilities to win a match or tournament and these advancements become a real game changer.
Imagining the future
The world of AR and VR has often caught the imagination of writers and filmmakers with examples such as the VR game Better Than Life featured in the novel Red Dwarf or Tom Cruise using AR technology in The Minority Report. With the technology now attained, it is time to start thinking of what you want to experience and what potential changes this technology can have on your life. What about searching your neighborhood and finding famous figures or characters to play a hand of poker with? Would you like to step inside a slot machine and climb towards the jackpot? Maybe you’d like to bet $100 you can beat your friend 1,000 miles away in a penalty shoot-out? The possibilities are infinite and very close to becoming our reality.
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With the gaming and gambling industries all cautiously realizing the options afforded to them, it’s now just a matter of waiting to see which of them produces the killer AR or VR entertainment that will plunge us all into these new and exciting worlds.