Are VR slots the future of casino gaming?
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announced his vision of the future, which he coined the metaverse. This dystopian glimpse into our future predicts a shift from life as we know it to a fully digital existence powered by virtual reality (VR).
Now, we’re not buying into anything that a Silicon Valley extraterrestrial has to offer, but his prediction that many industries will shift to a digital environment can’t be ignored. As a result, we’re left to question if the humble slot game is destined for a shift from your screen to the metaverse!
In 2016 at an industry trade show, NetEnt showcased a demo of their popular Jack and the Beanstalk Slot that incorporated virtual reality elements. In 2018, both NetEnt and Evoplay released what would be the world’s first VR slots. More than five years later, we’re still waiting on the VR casino revolution.
Yes, a few VR slots have been released over the preceding years, but they are still seen as a novelty and not a mile marker to the future. This has left many to examine what stands in the way of the mass adoption of VR by the casino industry.
In the early years of virtual reality, products like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive required both a significant upfront investment for the headset and an equally large investment for the computer to power these headsets. This meant that the mass adoption of VR by the general public was just not attractive.
However, in subsequent years, products like the Samsung Gear VR that utilize a smartphone in combination with a controller have reduced the cost of entry substantially. Today, you can pick up a smartphone-based VR headset and controller combination on Amazon for less than €50.
The cost is, however, not the only barrier to mass adoption. Even the most understated VR headset isn’t something you’re going to be strapping on while you wait in a line at your local pizza place.
Over the next few decades, this issue will likely become less pronounced. We may even get to a point where the technology is seamlessly integrated into a simple pair of sunglasses. However, we’re not there yet.
The Perspective Problem
Virtual reality was popularized in the world of traditional video games. It allowed players to enter the world of the game and interact with its elements in a more direct manner. What made this an ideal implementation of the technology was that it gave players a more tactile experience and allowed players a greater field of view to discover more of the game.
As we move into some or another form of a metaverse, VR will be vital for interacting with friends, colleagues, and customers. It will also allow us to explore a world that can be endlessly extended. As a result, much like with traditional video games, VR gives the users a richer metaverse experience.
In a slot, however, VR distracts more than it enriches the experience. The problem is that a slot requires a static viewpoint. A slot’s action all happens in one location in front of the player. This means that any implementation of VR into a slot game would largely be theme-based additions that would do more to distract players.
This, however, is assuming a fairly rigid idea of a slot game. It’s not impossible that a developer could completely reimagine the medium. However, the possibility of such a colossal shift in the market being driven by such a niche piece of technology seems unlikely.
The Enthusiast Problem
Early adopters of any new technology are often enthusiasts who feel passionate about what it can add to their life. These individuals, more often than not, are aware that the initial iteration of that technology will likely be subpar. However, there is an implicit understanding that they are an important cog in the machine of mainstream adoption.
This kind of subculture is simply not as prevalent in the online casino world as it is in the technology or traditional video game industries. Players aren’t looking for the next best thing. They are generally content to play games they are familiar with, only deviating to try out a new title when it’s served in a familiar format. And without these earlier adopters, revolutionary new technology has little room to breathe and mature.
The VR Verdict
It’s incredibly difficult to predict the nature of technology decades from today. It is possible that with the miniaturization of optical technology and the mass adoption of virtual or augmented reality into everyday life, a revolution could be around the corner. If it is, BitStarz will be leading the way into the casino world’s metaverse.