You’re sitting in a crowd of thousands. The arena goes crazy as one of the players pulls off something spectacular. The game is won. The crowd begins to disappear – literally – as the players behind each avatar log out. This could be just one of the futures of eSports.
When you factor in every available market, iGaming is worth more than $66b per year. That’s across gambling, sports better, eGaming and more. And there are few of those markets that wouldn’t be improved by a VR headset.
I am a VR sceptic. It should be good, but has been mostly closed off by attempts to turn it into a premium product. It’s like if the people behind the first smartphone decided to charge twice as much and offer half as many features. It would never have become the must-have item it is today.
And yet the potential is there. If someone can manufacture a feature-rich headset but make it accessible and affordable, then have a bunch of must-have content, it’d soon find its way into every home. We’re talking about concerts, games and films. But that takes investment, and it takes risk, and it’s safer to charge more than it’s worth to people who are just happy to have a new way to play Beat Sabre.
Presuming one day that VR becomes more easily accessible, it will revolutionise iGaming across the board. Here is how.
VR: iGaming In Person
When you look at the budding iGaming services, they’re aiming to try and create something new. Something like FuturePlay, which was founded this year, brings together thousands of games and new ways of paying like cryptocurrencies and a whole host of other features not guaranteed by older services stuck in their way.
AI and VR will be the next big step in changing how we look at iGaming. AI is a big discussion in itself and I’ll mostly be ignoring it in this article. That’s because how it will be used in positive ways could be very easily outweighed by how it is used negatively and, frankly, it’s a topic that deserves its own focus. But in short: testing and training will be two uses that will revolutionise iGaming and eSports in particular.
VR, on the other hand, has a much more obvious potential. And it’s one that’ll impact on the players themselves. This is a tech that can put the gamer directly into the game itself. Whether that’s sitting at a slot machine or sitting watching a game from the crowd, there is an obvious level of immersion that isn’t possible while just sitting in front of the screen.
And it’s not about pretending you’re somewhere you’re not. It’s about the atmosphere. There are plenty of games that have an atmosphere in spades, but, alas, many iGaming greats don’t count amongst them. Think about the greatest game of poker you’ve ever played. Is it a smokey night in with friends, eating snacks and chatting the night away? Or is it a green screen with some animated cards over the top?
Maybe it really is the latter, but with VR we get closer to the former.
Start thinking about this from the next level and you can transform a humble game of Overwatch or Call of Duty into something that matches traditional sports. With enough tech, you can bring all of those spectators together.
That creates a great atmosphere around other fans, with everything that entails. But it’s also fantastic for developers, publishers and iGaming service providers too. You can charge money for access, you can see your fans get excited in real time and you can foster a community. Community means people keep coming back.
And that’s just the ultimate destination. There’s a lot that can develop between there and here. And while it might be entertaining, none of it is only entertaining. It’s the future of iGaming.