Virtual reality’s (VR) ability to turn anything into a ‘reality’ has become something of a mainstream phenomenon in 2015. Although developers, gamers and tech enthusiasts have been marvelling at the wonders of VR for the better part of the noughties (decade 2000–2009), the general public is now starting to see its capabilities and that’s opened up new markets.
Although traditional gaming is still the main driver of VR technology, other factions of the gaming world are now seeking to harness the power of the leading platforms to experiment with new concepts.
Figure 1: Photo by Remko van Dokkum
One such company is Microgaming. First entering the world of ‘real virtual gaming’ through its network of casino sites, such as Canada’s 32Red Casino, Microgaming blended RFID chips and web streams to connect live dealers and virtual players via a single interface.
These immersive games became the bridge between traditional online casino gaming and virtual reality gaming and allowed customers of sites such as 32Red to experience a more realistic gaming experience. This initial step has since led to the creation of a fully fledged virtual reality product from Microgaming, called VR Roulette.
The recent recipient of a Digital Gaming Innovation of the Year award, the new technology combines classic casino play with modern VR technology, using the following features:
Technology opening a window to the future
Figure 2: Photo by pestoverde
Oculus Rift DK2 Compatibility: By linking into Oculus Rift’s system, VR Roulette is able to provide the player 360-degree views of a traditional roulette table. 1080p resolution throwing out 75fps helps to create an intricately detailed game complete with a huge amount of detail on the smallest elements in the game: casino chips.
Being a product based on betting and chips, Microgaming had to invest a lot of time into making full use of Oculus Rift’s visual capabilities. Because much of a roulette player’s focus is on the smallest element on the screen (their betting chips), Microgaming was also required to make use of the positional tracking software building into Oculus Rift DK2.
Thanks to this feature a player can physically watch the motion of the wheel and maneuver their chips in the most realistic way possible. Moreover, because Oculus Rift DK2 has the ability to digitise the human form, a digital representation of a player’s hand can be created if theirs leaves the dedicated gaming area.
Leap Motion Sensors: Working in tandem with Oculus Rift’s ability to create a 360-degree 3D world is the motion controller from Leap Motion. Attached to a player’s gaming console, this sensor allows you to swipe, grab, pinch and manipulate objects on the screen in a variety of ways. For virtual roulette this dexterity is crucial as the game is based on small movements.
VR Roulette was able to integrate this technology into its platform and allow players to place bets in the same way they would at a real table.
Virtual reality: The hottest tech on the planet
Figure 3: Photo by University of Salford
In commenting on the use of VR technology in the online casino world, Microgaming’s CEO, Roger Raatgever, believes that VR Roulette is just the start. The award-winning technology has shown VR will become a huge part of the online betting industry in the future as his company is already working with Google Glass and HoloLens to create augmented realities for bettors of all persuasions.
The knock-on effect of this interest by the online betting community is that VR as a market will continue to grow significantly in the coming years with current projects suggesting a market value of $150 billion by 2020.