Casino Gaming Providers to Watch in the VR Space
Virtual reality gaming is still coming into its own. It did not immediately take over the gaming world, as its most enthusiastic advocates expected it to, and in some cases, it has actually been a disappointment. The good headsets are expensive, the games aren’t perfected, and there really hasn’t been a flagship genre or game to draw people to the medium. Don’t let these negatives fool you, though. VR is still developing, and slowly but surely gaining momentum.
Right now, estimates from Globe Newswire indicate that the VR gaming market will grow from some USD 7.7 billion in 2019 to USD 42.5 billion by 2025. That makes for a CAGR of 32.75%, and while some would like to see an even greater number, this is still an indication of high expectations. As headsets become somewhat more affordable, people get used to VR, and better games emerge, we will see more widespread adoption.
This is also going to be driven in part by the different genres that make themselves prominent in VR gaming though. And one that we shouldn’t count out any longer is casino gaming. It isn’t necessarily the first genre that comes to mind with regard to VR. Many people are still focused on what first-person shooters can become in the virtual medium; some are focused more on immersive mystery games, simulators, or world-building games; and we’ve written before that racing games are a perfect fit for VR. But casino providers have a lot to offer the medium as well — and have a history of jumping on new trends and technologies.
In just the last decade or so, we’ve seen casino gaming platforms adapt quickly to mobile gaming. We’ve seen them embrace new trends in gaming animation. They’ve been among the first companies through the door with new payment methods, and in some cases, they’ve even pioneered new, vaguely VR-like concepts (such as live dealers for casino games). Given all of this — as well as the clear potential for virtual card dealers or immersive slot game animations — we ought to expect that at some point major casinos will make a significant move into the VR space. And if this does happen, it may well turn some of the prominent casino gaming providers into household names.
These are a few of the ones to watch out for.
NetEnt is arguably the most well-known developer in the modern online casino space. This is the case for two main reasons. One is that it’s the primary provider for NetBet Casino, which a review by Tux Slots describes as “one of the biggest gaming websites” in the UK — where most gamers look for their casino content. This is a massive platform and one that’s built to be accessible, meaning countless gamers ultimately use NetBet and get exposed to NetEnt’s excellent suite of games.
The second reason, incidentally, is that some of those games are so clearly at the top of the casino genre that they’ve become mainstays on other platforms around the world as well. Titles like Starburst, Blood Suckers, Warlords: Crystals of Power, and more all appear on numerous casino sites and are all NetEnt products. The company’s unofficial flagship game, meanwhile — Gonzo’s Quest — has actually already been turned into a VR experience.
Playtech is hot on NetEnt’s heels in producing games that are both excellent and widely accessible on gaming platforms. In fact, on most sites where you’ll see some of the NetEnt games just mentioned, you’ll also run into some of the popular slot arcades from Playtech — such as Jackpot Giant, or a few titles based on popular film or television franchises (like Britain’s Got Talent, or Superman).
Where Playtech may be particularly interesting also is in its proven ability to develop its own mini-franchises within casino gaming spheres. The “Age of the Gods” series, for instance, now accounts for numerous popular games focusing on different aspects of Greek mythology. These are games that already thrive on strong settings. In theory, turning just one of them into an immersive VR setting could lead to a full casino gaming franchise in the medium.
Microgaming is another provider that is more or less on the level of NetEnt and Playtech when it comes to international prominence on gaming platforms. Though it doesn’t have a major hub for its games the way NetEnt has NetBet, some if its headline experiences — Jungle Jim, Win Sum Dim Sum, and Dragon’s Myth, to name a few — are extremely popular.
Microgaming’s advantage, however, may be in its connections with some major entertainment franchises. For instance, Microgaming developed a Game Of Thrones slot machine game — and with the GoT franchise heading toward a spinoff show, there could be renewed energy for related games. Likewise, Microgaming has worked with the Tomb Raider and Hitman properties, both of which always seem up for new things. Well-developed virtual casino games connected to any of these big names could certainly draw a crowd.
Of course, we could also see wholly original VR casino games developed by new companies or more conventional game providers. The names mentioned here, however, are among the kings of the genre and are well equipped to turn casino gaming into one of the driving forces of VR expansion.