Virtual reality technology has been a long time coming, but 2021 may finally be the year that VR gaming becomes mainstream – and gambling firms could be some of the biggest winners.
A decade ago, virtual reality seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough, with advances graphics processing power making VR gaming a possibility and the Oculus Rift headset breaking Kickstarter records. 2012 appeared to be the dawn of a new era of gaming. As with any new technologies, however, the hype and excitement came ahead of the products and whilst Oculus was soon snapped up by Facebook for $2.3 billion only two years later, virtual reality gaming was not quite ready for prime time.
Today, the situation is different. Virtual reality headsets from the likes of Oculus, Sony, Samsung and other manufacturers have made the space the new technology battleground and the competition has pushed down prices. And it is not just PC gaming rigs that now offer virtual reality experiences either, with the Sony backing support for VR headsets in both its PlayStation 4 and more recent PlayStation 5, and critically VR games are also now available for Android and iOS.
The broad availability of devices that now offer some form of virtual reality capabilities has also pushed other sectors to react and develop VR worlds for their titles, from office meeting apps to casino games. The online casino industry is a multi-billion-dollar sector, which has often been quick to adopt and drive forward new technologies, from live streaming sports to multi-player online games. And the development of VR technology offers poker and slot sites an opportunity to try and recreate some of the excitement and immersive nature of Las Vegas or Macau casinos in the digital realm.
Global revenues from virtual reality games continue to grow by around 30 per cent each year, and analysts predict the market could be worth almost $2.5bn by 2024. If the gambling industry manages to persuade players that VR versions of casino games are as exciting as the real thing, then growth of the sector may be further accelerated and it could prove to be another successful revenue stream for casinos.