Will Slots Make It In VR?
When Oculus first introduced a virtual reality headset over a decade ago, most consumers knew that VR was the future of entertainment.
20:22 23 September 2020
Though not immediately accessible to most households and requiring a small revolution in 3D rendering, VR today provides a higher level of escapism that people came to expect.
The Rapid Rise of VR
By the end of this year, Digicapital estimates that the augmented and virtual reality industries will be worth a total of $150 billion worldwide. However, the bulk of that estimate accounts for AR rather than VR.
Though popular and showing no signs of slowing down, it’s clear that VR requires an extra touch—not to mention, feedback. Given the industry is still in its infancy, there’s plenty of trial and error at play on any VR development team.
From Google to Facebook to Samsung, companies are pouring billions into the future of VR. The race isn’t only to perfect the industry but to find a way to get expensive headsets and streaming devices into households worldwide.
VR Making Forays Into The iGaming Industry
At the moment, another megalithic industry is attempting cash in on the immersive benefits of VR: the online gambling industry. According to Statista, the global industry is worth almost $67 billion.
Pairing VR with online gaming seems like a clear win from a business perspective. But from a design and functionality standpoint, this union provides more than a few considerations for both parties.
So far, the possibilities related to online slots have users most excited to see where slots will take VR—and vice versa.
VR in the Gaming World
Juniper Research predicted that VR gambling alone would be worth around $520 million by 2021. While this marks an 800% increase from 2016 (when the research was conducted), the availability of free spins and other casino bonuses related solely to slots is mind-boggling and supports the prediction.
Each company has its own variations, which often include storytelling elements and social interaction. In fact, this is one of the main selling points when it comes to seamlessly blending VR with online slots: RPG elements.
However, role-playing elements are already common features across successful online gaming sites. Users can expect detailed casino game rooms, realistic machines and tables, self-stylized avatars, 3D spatial aspects, and in-game chatting options. The entire experience is a role-playing format.
Certain online casinos have upped public interest even more by adding lounges and bars that are exclusive for social interaction options. This adds to the allure of a brick-and-mortar casino and helps online sites address the user's interest in simulating real social experiences.
However, it should be noted that the biggest online casino sites that offer VR experiences are still largely reminiscent of the very first Sims iterations. Much like the VR industry as a whole, online casino experiences have some evolving to do in terms of visuals.
Successful VR: Slots-Specific
Looking forward, what does the VR casino experience need to keep in mind for slots specifically? Mentioned above, slots present a unique opportunity to create RPG play beyond the casino layout. Though a brick-and-mortar casino will provide classic and themed slots, neither have the potential that VR slots do.
An RPG element would make slots highly interactive. As players advance with certain combinations, they can move to various settings and tackle missions. Most VR games today are focused on first-person shooters and action games, but adding a more narrative-heavy element for a game as simple and exciting as slots should be easy.
A recent interview series that asked top VR professionals what makes a successful venture in the virtual offered key insights. Some emphasize a ‘look around’ ability—which means the peripheral scenery should replicate true vision as much as possible.
Others emphasize utilizing business strategy within the game itself. Areas and environment should reflect a company’s strategy and message behind the VR. In other words, knowing whether VR is functional (training employees) or recreational (playing slots) should be loosely intertwined throughout the experience.
Another key piece of advice is to empathize with first-time users and study how they spend their time in VR. For instance, most new users will look around and study their new VR environment for up to 60 seconds before getting involved.
However, Guy Primus of The Virtual Reality Company emphasizes compelling stories and unique environments. This is where slots should head if companies want to spearhead their brand and create something truly unique.
If slots in VR created a strong visual environment with realistic storytelling and 3D rendering, then a game as simple as slots can be transformed into an unforgettable experience. It would likely even resemble a video game.
The Challenges of VR Slots
One major issue surrounding VR is the equipment itself. Not only are headsets expensive, but so are other peripherals associated with a great VR experience. It isn’t enough to just get ahold of an Oculus Rift or Google Daydream headset.
Those who want to dive deep into a VR video game will need to first have a strong internet connection and a device that’s capable of processing dense programs.
In other words, advanced computing devices (often PCs) are needed to run a VR simulation without interruptions. This makes owning and engaging with VR even farther from the basic household worldwide.
One major appeal of online casinos is their accessibility. If VR can’t deliver on that main selling point, then it may only be a top priority for those willing to spend big. Brick-and-mortar casinos are well-known for offering high-rollers exclusive deals and access to amenities.
It seems possible that VR casino experiences will seek to cater to this same group. High-rollers, after all, are present online just as they are in the high stakes lounges across the world. Fortunately for VR casino developers, high-rollers earn their title for a reason: they’re willing to throw down small fortunes on their favorite game.
So long as developers are able to present this demographic with an exciting and realistic VR gaming experience, they’ll likely create a strong foundation that will attract other gamers. By offering exclusive deals to those willing to get in on the action first and incentivizing big spenders, platforms can bolster their name and earn top dollar.