Over the last few decades, the gambling industry has made some significant changes, thanks to the implementation of technology that enabled them to take their business online. The future of online slots has been in the media lately because new developments offer exciting progress for both these popular casino games and many others to boot. So, just what does the future hold for the humble slot machine?
The history of the slot machine goes back further than you may imagine, with the humble one-armed bandit being the initial incarnation. They were so named because of the single lever on one side that you pulled after inserting a coin to spin the reels and allow them to settle on what you hoped would be a winning combination. Since the technology was available to enable them to become online creations, the giant casino software houses have gone to town designing hundreds of different versions, using themes from television, movie, music and more. They have learned what the punter wants and are now delivering it. This means that slot machines are the most widely played game at any online casino, and the gambling industry overall is seeing record growth and profits. It is looking increasingly likely that the next step forward for slot machines will involve virtual reality. It is a relatively new technology but has already been implemented in some casinos on limited table games such as roulette and poker. Plans are afoot to ensure that slot players can experience this immersive technology for themselves.
What is Virtual Reality
When you think about virtual reality , the first thing that comes to mind is the large headset that the player has to wear. The technical way to explain it is 3-dimensional artificial environment replication. This means that when the user views a scene through the goggles, they feel as if they are inside the world and turning in any direction reinforces that idea with an entire 360-degree backdrop available. With sound effects, it can be made even more realistic, and it is classed as a fully immersive experience. Currently, the limitation is the price of a quality virtual reality headset. Casino owners are all too aware that a fee of nearly £500 to get a kit capable of running the game will mean many people cannot take part. Cheaper headsets have been tried, but to get the best experience, the quality needs to be there.
The virtual reality headset is very similar to wearing a screen directly in front of your face but adds 360 experiences. There can be issues with disorientation and users getting headaches if the VR experience is not streaming at least 60 frames per second. The way the lenses are used in the headset can change what we see from a 2D experience we expect when we look at a television set to a more natural 3D experience that we have when we look at the world around us.
Online Casinos and VR
As mentioned, some virtual reality enabled games available on gambling sites, but it is still in its infancy. It’s become a bit of a chicken and egg situation between the affordability of decent headsets and the impatience of casinos to bring more games to the public domain. It also requires a gaming platform that can deal with VR technology, which is also not widely available. Another exciting development could well be the addition of augmented reality, which many people simply understand as being part of virtual reality. However, augmented reality uses the camera within the player’s device to insert portions of a game into our natural surroundings. The most successful and popular augmented reality game is Pokémon Go, and players do not need any extra technology except for a mobile phone capable of running AR. This is the primary difference as all virtual reality experiences currently depend on the headset and, in some cases, the addition of gloves or handheld controllers.
Although they are not widely available yet, the software company net ENT has developed Gonzo’s Quest as a virtual reality slot machine game. It is one of their most popular games already played, so users with VR technology can take it a step further. Oculus Rift is currently one of the best virtual reality headsets on the market. Still, it does have a price tag of over £400, and it would also require a solid operating system in the form of a PC or laptop in order to function correctly. Other virtual reality slots already on offer include Thunderstruck II, Jack and the Beanstalk, Starburst and Twin Spin. At the moment, these are an excellent option for people who already have virtual reality headsets. Still, in the future, casinos are looking to make them more widely available and offer a greater choice.