It’s been rumored for a while that Microgaming have been working away on developing virtual reality slots – and now it’s official. The pioneering game design company have demonstrated early prototypes of the next generation of interactive slot machines at the recent ICE Totally Gaming Conference – and the good news is that it looks fantastic. VR slots does however raise a number of big questions over not just the experience of playing games in this manner, but also raises legal and technical questions that will need to be resolved before the expected official release to market scheduled for sometime in 2017.
How VR Can Revolutionize Slots
VR is one of those technologies that has so far never quite really kicked off. There’s all sorts of reasons why – cost of equipment, poor game design, limited immersion, weak graphics and so on. Yet thanks to the quality of modern technology – and the helpful fact that many people carry smartphones with the processing and graphical power comparable to a decent PC – this time it looks like VR is really here to stay.
Tech companies really look to mean business this time. Oculus Rift is the best known example of high quality VR hardware that is priced competitively and affordable to many domestic consumers. Likewise other products still largely in development intend to be powered via smartphones alone. This means that anyone who enjoys playing their slots on PC, tablet or smartphone will have the possibility of doing so with a VR headset – and these are only going to be become ever more affordable.
Microgaming are focusing explicitly upon making their VR slot games extremely interactive. To be fair the company is famed not just for it’s high end graphics but also very much for the sheer play-ability and entertainment offered by their games. If anyone is going to be able to genuinely pioneer truly interactive slots then you’d put your money on these guys.
Details are still pretty scarce and kept under a veil of secrecy, but it looks like the VR slots experience being developed by Microgaming is going to be a total simulation of playing a slots machine like one may in a casino. It’s not going to be repetitive like constantly pulling the arm of a Bandit – it’ll be much like the typical Microgaming games we currently enjoy – very interactive, plenty of bonus features and demanding that the player keeps their attention levels up at all times. Quite clearly the intention is to take the sense of excitement and rushing adrenaline to even higher levels – which of course ought to keep players at the game even longer.
What VR Could Mean For The Gaming Industry
There’s two diverse schools of thought on what VR could mean for the industry on a greater level. Microgaming and other companies heavily invested in developing VR are adamant that the technology will serve only to enhance the experience currently enjoyed daily by millions of players worldwide. Being able to figuratively speaking actually play a game using human movements from the comfort of home is simply the next great leap forward in the tech side of slots game development.
However there are potential licensing issues – mainly stemming from the rather philosophic notion of does a virtual casino count as being an actual casino? Is it responsible for people to be able to walk around a casino floor from any location and at any time they may choose? Also and as ever an issue raised when it comes to developments in money-play technology – will the added thrill and interactive element prove to tempt more players into addictive and habitual tendencies?
It would seem churlish to automatically presume that VR slots machines are irresponsible. After all players can game essentially without limits via their smartphones as often as they like – so it’s difficult to delineate between what difference a VR headset is likely to make. Consider also that the gaming industry is legal, licensed and contributes plenty of tax, and as has been seen in recent years takes it’s social responsibility very seriously when it comes to protecting it’s customers. Why should they be limited in making the use of emergent technology which their customers will by the looks of things be sure to embrace?
The good news for players is that these concerns so far haven’t caused any disruption in the development of interactive VR slots – and it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens in the near future, especially with VR hardware now starting to finally become truly mainstream.