Is The Future Of Gaming And Casinos Virtual?

Gaming and Casinos

The global gaming market is experiencing an unprecedented boom, with experts at market research think tank Newzoo estimating that the industry will be valued at $180 billion (INR 13 trillion) by next year. That’s why tech companies are rushing to innovate in this billion-dollar market, including virtual reality gaming platforms.

In India alone, gaming companies are forming a beeline to reach gamers in the world’s largest democracy. Case in point, the makers of Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar Games, has recently acquired Bangalore-based Dhruva Interactive. What's more, video game company Ubisoft now has two development studios in Mumbai. Companies like Tencent, EA Sports, Riot Games, and Imangi Studios have been regular attendees at Indian gaming conferences in recent years. One key innovation bringing all these big names together is the exciting world of virtual reality (VR) gaming.

The incremental rise of VR Gaming

VR gaming has been around for a while now but has failed to capture its intended audience the same way mobile gaming has. With the rise of popular mobile games such as Summoner’s War, Call of Duty: Mobile, PUBG Mobile, and Clash of Clans, mobile gaming has become popular both with casual and professional gamers. The inclusion of mobile games in competitive gaming or eSports has only cemented this position – mobile games are eclipsing consoles and PC gaming.

But in recent years, we've discussed how VR gaming has been creating a lot of buzz and making headlines. One key factor that contributed to this resurgence is that big tech companies like Facebook, Google, and even Apple are doubling down on the VR gaming market. In fact, Facebook’s affordable VR headset Oculus Quest has posted record sales last year – selling 180,000 units in just a quarter. Apple has similarly announced that it will develop its own VR headset by 2022.

Unlikely ally

But without gaming studios lining up to make games tailored to the platform, the industry will not likely receive this much attention. Fortunately, VR has found an unlikely ally: casinos. High stakes gaming has been the twin of the casual gaming market for years, and casinos have also adapted to accommodate more serious gamers.

Back in 2016, experts noted that social games – those between casinos and casual gaming – will be the first to monetize VR gaming. And indeed, in less than a year, companies like Star Casino have developed games with consoles like Xbox to be included in their VR bundle. Since then, big casino companies like MGM Resorts and other giants from Nevada have created VR casino games that cater to younger players – even amending industry practices to support its growth. This adaption to reach a wider audience base is something the casino industry is very effective at doing, with Gala Casino showing how welcome bonuses are tied into new titles that have been based on globally popular TV shows like Narcos. Combined with the convenience of playing at home, offering minimal initial deposits, generous welcome bonuses, and free spins with certain games, the online industry can offer features not often available to players at brick and mortar casinos. This ease of use and incorporation of video gaming skills have successfully rebranded casinos and made them more popular. This in turn has encouraged VR platforms to combine with online casinos to maximise their own audience base.

Today, it’s becoming clear that VR gaming is the next big thing both video games and online casinos. Big studios are adopting some of the well-loved franchises onto the platform. AAA games like the Elder Scrolls V Skyrim and Fall Out 4 are being rebooted for VR versions. Similarly, headsets are becoming lighter and more diverse – a far cry from the clunky devices introduced some years ago. While it’s still early to tell if it can eclipse mobile and console gaming, it’ clear that VR gaming is here to stay.

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