It is for a very good reason that Microgaming has received the Innovator of the Year Award at the International Gaming Awards 2016. And not long after they were announced as the winners, they premiered Virtual Reality Gambling at the ICE Conference. In shape of virtual roulette set in the outer space and hosted by a friendly robot, Microgaming continues to push the boundaries of what can be done in mobile gambling and continue to throw excessive sums at money to research, development and innovation in slots. Let's take a look at what Virtual Reality gambling entails and how it could very soon change the way we all play mobile slots.
We love the ICE Total Gaming Conferences that take place every year. Not only is it the biggest B2B conference in the gambling industry, but it is also used by software developers to show off their latest innovations and strut their stuff, so to speak. This year has yielded a particularly large crop of developments that have the ability to improve mobile gambling and change it beyond recognition.
Just cast your mind back to NetEnt, which introduced the concept of 3D sound. While it will be fascinating to totally immerse yourself in the games in terms of audio, we are even more excited about Microgaming's Virtual Reality gambling that uses Oculus Rift gear and sophisticated sound technology to make you feel as if you're actually in the game. Plus, they're dabbling with augmented reality, wearables and other new technologies too, reinventing the way we gamble as we speak.
The Beginnings of Virtual Reality – Roulette
No other developer before has tried their hand at marrying virtual reality and remote gambling before. That's precisely why Microgaming's premier of Virtual Reality Roulette has been such a revelation to many. Developed especially for the ICE Conference, visitors were able to experience the future of mobile gambling in a futuristic looking CRYO lab.
Whoever donned the mean looking Oculus Rift DK 2 glasses was transported to a roulette table set in the outer space. Stars, planets and even space boulders all surround the player as he or she makes roulette bets. The 3D csaino table itself looks extremely realistic and players are able to look into every direction to perceive the depth of objects perfectly.
There is no doubt that the potential of Virtual Reality to offer an immersive experience is unrivaled. But you don't just get to watch as the robot spins the roulette wheel or takes bets – you could interact with it too! In addition to the Oculus Rift DK 2 headset, the Virtual Reality Roulette experience is enhanced by a Leap Motion 3D. This piece of technology tracks hand movements and then immediately (with just the slightest tinge of millisecond delay) projects the movements into the 3D world. So you can wave to the robot and even physically place the chips on the table.
Augmented Reality and Wearables
However, the Virtual Reality Roulette wasn't the only thing that visitors could check out in the CRYO lab. Microgaming had also done their homework in augmented reality and wearable technology gaming and brought samples of their work to ICE.
We've got to say that we love the way that augmented reality looks in the context of mobile gambling. While we remain uncertain about the precise way that it works from the technological point of view, it could also be a great way to engage users and offer 3D entertainment in mobile gambling.
And then, there were the wearables. There were rumours in the past that Microgaming would release The Dark Knight Rises slot on a smart watch, but that hasn't materialised. Perhaps the technology wasn't ripe enough yet or they scrapped it for the fears that not many consumers own a smart watch. Nonetheless, they've re-introduced the idea at this year's ICE and we hope to see much more about wearable gaming quite soon – we'll keep you in the loop.
Mobile Gaming In The Future
It appears that very exciting times await all of us when it comes to mobile gambling. And while it all looks good and offers great entertainment, there is one obvious question when it comes to Virtual Reality – how realistic is it that gamblers would invest in all the expensive hardware to play slots? We don't think it's going to happen this year, but in the next decade for sure.
For comparison, just think back to year 2004 (ish). Hardly anyone owned a smartphone and playing slots from the palm of your hand on ‘such a small screen' was seen as absurd by many. Now fast-forward to 2016 and the notion of playing mobile slots is as normal as sleeping and eating. And talking about mobile slots, it was Microgaming that developed some of the very first pieces of mobile gambling software and now they're pioneering new concepts again.
Technology evolves so swiftly that it's very hard to predict as to how it will develop and, more importantly, which trends will catch on with consumers. After all, they will be the ones to decide if they want to put on bulky head-wear and perhaps overcomplicate the simplicity that is mobile gambling. Yet, we do think that a segment of consumers, particularly the technology-loving millennials, will take to Virtual Realty like fish to water.
There is no doubt the hardware will be shrunk down and simplified in the coming years, while the software and graphics will improve tremendously. Plus, Virtual Reality could easily piggy-back on another trend of making mobile slots look as similar to video games as possible. After all, there is nothing more immersive and engaging than Virtual Reality, except the reality itself (aka real life, brick-and-mortar casinos).
In sum, all of this technological innovation by Microgaming has so much potential to provide an unparalleled gambling experience and we really hope that we can soon obtain and play Virtual Reality casino games and slots for real money! For now, take a look for yourself – could you see yourself gambling in Virtual Reality in the very near future?