As with the video gaming sector, the iGaming industry (a broad term for online casino and sports betting) will pull out all the stops for annual expos.
Events like Ice London (April 2022) showcase the best in upcoming casino games and technology. They really know how to put a show, and it’s interesting from a tech standpoint, even for those who do not usually play casino games.
But over the last few years, one of the main buzzwords at these slick events has been “immersion”. It’s an important term for all entertainment sectors, but iGaming companies have been really keen on the concept.
They seem to firmly believe that VR/AR technology will usher in a new era of online casino gaming, although it is still not fully clear when and how it is going to happen.
Metaverse has become new buzzword
Of course, those who believe in the concept of immersive gaming experiences will have been buoyed by all the traction around the metaverse. Since October, when Facebook announced it would be focusing on building the metaverse, it has become supercharged.
Investors are pouring billions into metaverse startups, with the aim of creating immersive worlds where the virtual meets the real. While some metaverse platforms have launched (and some were already in place), it’s probably going to be a few years before we see these visions realised in full – perhaps not even in this decade.
And yet, we can’t help but think that some of the iGaming sector’s most popular games are primed for these VR/AR experiences linked to the metaverse. This is particularly the case with live casino online, including the new genre of live dealer games broadly known as tv game shows.
If you weren’t aware, live casino games are those played with real dealers and gaming equipment, with the action streamed from a studio to your device.
The games, which rely on innovative console technology to ensure everything occurs in real-time, arrived towards the end of the 2010s, quickly changing the face of the casino industry.
New gaming concepts arrived at live casinos
While you can understand the allure of playing games like live blackjack and roulette with real croupiers, the developers behind the games started to take things a little further, rolling out new concept titles that you would not find in a land-based casino.
Some of these, such as Monopoly Live and Crazy Time, became hugely popular. They offer a different kind of casino experience, with, for example, the croupier acting like more of a host than a dealer.
The point, as such, is that there is not a huge leap to make between these games and VR/metaverse experiences. If you consider, for example, Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt Live, an adventure-themed live game based on the hunt for Aztec riches, it would be perfectly suited to expand its offering through VR, allowing players to partake in the proverbial treasure hunt.
Indeed, games like Gonzo’s Treasure Hunt already blur the lines between the virtual and the real. It is part casino game, part video game, with a little dash of real life thrown in.
Could we see future iterations with players – perhaps in avatar form – exploring the Aztec world that was created by NetEnt? It’s not a stretch to say it could easily happen.
These games tick all the boxes needed for the metaverse, so it’s now just a matter of pushing them over the edge.
There is a lot of momentum in the hardware sector – with Oculus enjoying its best-ever sales period over Christmas. It might take a few more years for this to roll down to the mainstream casino industry. But make no mistake: the metaverse will be coming to live casinos soon.