Ever get that feeling when you’ve been waiting in line for too long already, just to reach the second from front and the guy ahead for you takes seemingly forever at the counter? That’s pretty much how the development of VR casinos is starting to feel. We’ve been waiting so long, yet despite considerable progress the format just doesn’t seem still to be the finished article. Truth be told judging by current evidence it’s still quite far off. How far depends upon the skill and perseverance not just of the development companies but also the casino operators who are bankrolling them. Unless real progress is seen soon, there’s a fair risk that people may just start to walk away from the concept.
It would be seriously bad news if VR falls at the final hurdle, but there’s a whole lot of other issues also at play. Nobody said it would be easy but for a few years now the gaming industry has eulogized about how VR was going to be ‘the next big thing’. Those within the industry firmly believe that social casino gaming via VR would revolutionize the industry, opening up untapped revenue streams and finally making gambling a totally mainstream leisure pursuit. Most believe that lightweight headsets with software powered via smartphones will be the key to attracting new customers, a perfectly logical suggestion – on paper at least. However there’s all sorts of issues that continue to hinder real progress.
Uptake Of VR Technology
This is by far and away the greatest issue so far. History is littered with examples of cutting edge, high quality technology failing simply because for whatever reason the public weren’t sold. Across all formats VR gaming makes up a tiny proportion of the marketplace – less than 1% at time at writing. With casinos the uptake is currently so small as to barely even register.
People are faced with the simple choice of investing in expensive tech that will likely be outdated in a couple of years, or just ignore it and carry on gambling as they are. Signs are that when totally beneficial offers such as “claim your share of the biggest casino promotions with Vegas Palms” come along they’ll gladly sign up for it. They’re far less keen to shell out a few hundred for a headset to play a limited variety of shaky VR casino games without any incentives.
Casinos Are Playing ‘After You, Claude’
While all the major gaming companies are happy to throw out soundbites affirming their commitment to integrating VR into their gaming portfolios, truth is that nobody is really emerging as a forerunner. In large part this is because at present the low uptake means that heavily pushing VR is an expensive high risk gamble, as there’s no real demand from the public to see progress.
Licenses for top slots games such as those developed by Microgaming are far from cheap – but they attract millions of regular players/customers which justify the expense. Investing in VR on the other hand is potentially a thankless task, as there’s no obligation for customers not to just switch to alternative casinos who buy licenses when the software is completed. The same is exactly the same for game production companies too. Demand for ever better slots is high – interest in VR is little more than a curious glance over the shoulder.
The Current VR Services Are Underwhelming
The couple of VR devoted casinos currently running are doing their best, but the truth is that the games are limited to slots and once the novelty wears off they’re not really up to much. Compared to the current generation of 2D slots with amazing graphics, audio, immersive play and above all smartphone compatibility it’s nothing close. The much lauded social aspect – whereby players interact off the tables as much as they play together – is pretty much non-existent so far, and this aspect is absolutely crucial to driving uptake.
So – Is VR A Pipe Dream?
Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done, but despite our patience wearing thin it’s still too early to write off high quality virtual reality just yet. After all video games started with the likes of Pong, so it’s going to take time for entirely new formats to find their feet. The hope is that once VR really does get started has to be that it’ll snowball into generating not just much speedier progress but also attract many times more customers. Assuming VR eventually finds a place in the everyday person’s living room then sure, there’s still a good chance that it will eventually work in a casino setting. But for now 50/50 would be a generous bet on that happening anytime soon.