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Virtual Reality Immersive Slots & Casino Games

virtual reality game man playingBelieve it or not, virtual reality (VR) has been around for a considerable number of years. While its exact origins and time of appearance are not completely known, in the 1950s, filmmaker Morton Heilig wrote of an “Experience Theatre”. This, he noted, would be able to encompass all the senses together in one effective manner, drawing people in to the onscreen activity. It was he who built a prototype of his vision, which became known as the Sensorama, launched in 1962. Five short films were also created to be displayed in it, engaging multiple senses at the same time.

Throughout the proceeding years and decades, Heilig and various other inventors crafted their own VR patents. Up until 1990 though, the VR industry mainly provided such devices for medical, flight simulation, automobile industry design, and military training purposes. It was only in the 90s that the first widespread commercial releases of VR headsets occurred, with Computer Gaming World predicting “affordable VR by 1994” at the time. Multiple video game companies have since launched VR options, such as the Sega VR headset for the Mega Drive, and Virtuality’s mass-produced, networked, multiplayer VR entertainment system.

Technology continued to advance throughout the years, and in more recent times has spread to the online casino world as well. As it happens, with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold around the world, virtual reality was offered a huge boost, thanks to more people needing to stay home and not have the chance to visit land-based gaming establishments. And now, the casino world is closer than ever to launching its own VR scene. But how is this expected to look? How will it operate? And what is already in place for players to experience with regard to this?

Virtual Reality is Already Here!

netent virtual realityIt is difficult to escape the advancements of technology these days. It seems like something new is coming to the fore from month-to-month, and this keeps things thoroughly interesting. And even though some people may not have noticed already, virtual reality is here to change things up in the casino world. A small group of online casinos have gone from standard gaming sites to interactive and immersive experiences, and this is expected to spread across to other big-name brands in the coming months and years.

For the time being, the number of VR casinos available to become a part of is relatively low. And of course, players need to possess a VR headset in order to access them in the first place. Be that as it may though, VR technology is already transforming the online casino sphere, enabling you to enjoy your favourite slots and casino games from home, but in a virtual casino world.

In the same vein, not so many casino games exist in VR format, so there are limitations in place for the time being. Yet some have been created, giving players the chance to see what VR casino gaming is all about. Sort of like a teaser for the future of the industry. You only need to turn your attention to the Netent release of Gonzo’s Quest VR, which was announced in 2017. The VR version of the game came about a year or two after that, introducing players to the fantastic world of El Dorado and Gonzo’s hunt for it. Using a VR headset to access the slot game, instead of playing on a standard 3D screen, the headset depicts an immersed world that you can look around while spinning the reels.

Netent and other developers have continued working with VR technology to develop more games for the industry in this format. And the catalogue of such games has continued to grow at a steady rate. But what about the actual VR casinos?

Well, one of these does already exist from the SlotsMillion platform. As it stands, this brand served as the very first licensed online casino in the United Kingdom to provide virtual reality casino gaming to its players. Accessing such will see you dropped into a glamorous casino world, with a bar on hand as you enter the doors. You can then make your way around the casino floor, with physical slot machines on hand for you to play the games through. Upon choosing one of these, the slot’s reels are displayed on your headset screen in full mode, ensuring that you can see everything happening on them. And as it happens, the SlotsMillion virtual casino can be experienced in VR with Oculus Rift and the associated googles or in 3D on your home computer, without the need for a headset.

You get to enjoy 360° views of the casino, as if you were visiting a land-based casino with this. Several players can enter the room simultaneously too, so you can see others wandering around the casino floor and playing their favoured games. Only you will be able to see your chosen game though, so people cannot actually see your gameplay. As things stand at the moment, just over 40 popular casino games can be found at the virtual establishment at this site.

Key Features of VR Slot Games

man with vr headset gesticulatingShould you engage in VR casino gameplay, you will find that the slots and so on are pretty much the same as they are in the standard online scene. You’ll still have the same functionality – being able to adjust the bet that you want to place, potentially being able to customise the active number of pay lines, making use of any special functions, etc.

Perhaps the main difference with these games is that when you form a win, the graphics and animations really come to life. Symbols will burst out of the screen, coins will start falling around you, and everything looks a lot more grandiose. Essentially, you get a much more immersive experience when spinning the reels of a VR slot when compared with a standard slot. The first-person perspective of it all gives you the impression that you’re also actually standing in front of the slot machine you’re playing.

At the same time, you get to experience the virtual reality casino you’re in alongside other players. While it is the norm for such sites to have multiple gamers accessing them at any given time, you don’t get to see the other players at the casino normally. With a virtual reality casino, you can witness other people wandering around the floor, giving it much more of a land-based atmosphere for you to experience. Of course, what you will see is an avatar of that person using the casino, rather than a specific display of that person’s real-life persona.

And what’s more, VR slot games and online casinos can easily be accessed via a mobile device, too. If you want to play their games from an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, this is very much a possibility. Your handset connects to the VR headset, and you proceed as you normally would with walking around the virtual casino.

What Does the Future Hold for Virtual Reality Casinos?

virtual reality real casino table game blurredAs things stand at the moment, the VR casino sector still remains in its very early stages. And this means that it still has a lot to bring to the table in the coming years. That being said, the games that can already be accessed in VR mode have already raced across a vast distance in a very short period of time. Developers are continuing their work in trying to make them as lifelike as possible though, with minor details being focused on, such as players being able to have a virtual drink at the bar or light up a cigar during breaks from spinning slot reels.

Naturally, VR technology is expected to continue its evolution over the coming years, and it is true to say that the casino industry will need to adapt with this. Therefore, it wouldn’t be incorrect to state that online casinos will likely be utilising VR more and more in the future.

A primary aim of the developers providing VR casinos is to be able to simulate brick-and-mortar casinos in the best way possible. This means that they want to look exactly like a land-based establishment. So much so that some businesses have actually put plans into effect to have the entirety of their casino replicated in a virtual environment. And with the growth of technology today, this could provide almost perfectly identical setups for players.

It’s also the case that VR casinos may expand beyond the interior casino walls. By this, it is thought that someday, VR players will be able to walk down the Las Vegas Strip or into Atlantic City and take their pick of all the available casinos in the same way that one would in reality if visiting such locations. The imagination and possibilities where this is concerned are quite endless, with developers being able to push the envelope into new territory as far as technology will allow. Why not be given the chance to walk into a casino that has been set up on the planet Mars via a virtual setting? Or perhaps dive under the waves and visit an underwater casino for a change?

And it is also key to note that as the software for VR gaming develops, so too does the hardware needed to immerse yourself in that world. Headsets have gone through radical changes over the years, which has been necessary to keep up with the increasing strength of the technology. Potentially, this will continue not only adapting where the headsets are concerned, but also introduce virtual reality accessories for you to make use of during your gaming sessions as well.

The Potential Downfalls

addicted gamblerWhile everything may seem rosy and exciting with VR evolution, there are also certain pitfalls that players will have to try and evade with it, too. Immersing yourself in a virtual casino world has the potential to become all-encompassing and take over your life. Some players already struggle with controlling their addiction to gambling with online casinos being available here, there and everywhere. A virtual world could make things even worse for such gamers. Would there need to be additional help made available for those who become addicted to not only online gaming, but virtual reality casino gaming, too?

Research has shown numerous times in the past that technology gets us hooked, and this can occur from a very young age, too. Humans, by design, are curious, and we love to push buttons, see flashing lights, get a positive outcome from a game, and so on. It’s just how our internal make-up operates. You can imagine the addictive nature that games already have without them being available in a virtual world in massive numbers for the moment. Does VR gaming have the potential to send things spinning out of control?

How would responsible gambling work when it comes to these casinos? Obviously, the games would need to adhere to the laws of the country that you’re accessing them from, but is it as easy for an operator to enforce responsible gambling in such a scenario?

Plus, advanced VR has the possibility of introducing multisensory feedback from a virtual casino. This means that you can touch things and sense what it feels like, hear things in the same way as you would in the real world, and potentially even smell things in the same way.

In 2016, author and sports columnist Bill Simmons spoke with billionaire investor Chris Sacca, who was an investor in Twitter and an early Google employee. Talking on his experience with VR technology, he said:

“I’m afraid for my kids, a little bit. I do wonder if this VR world you dive into is almost superior to the actual world you’re in. Instead of having human interactions, I can just go into this VR world and do VR things and that’s gonna be my life”.

Those concerns were echoed by Sacca, who said there were “crazy days ahead of us”.

In essence, a balance needs to be created between the VR casino gaming possibilities and the effects that it could have on players, especially those deemed as vulnerable (and even minorly vulnerable).

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