November 25, 2016

Is VR & AR In The Social Casino Industry A Reality

Person Using VR Head Set

When Pokerist was first launched, the basic idea was to create the most realistic gaming experience possible which would bring people from all corners of the world to our tables.

Over the past 6 months we’ve been spending a lot of time meeting with colleagues, influencers and partners to try to pin down the “Next Big Thing” in our industry. More importantly however, is how KamaGames could be the first to market and pioneer the next big step forward that would revolutionise the social casino world in the same way the mobile platform did 7-8 years ago.

The casino industry as a whole, not just the social casino side, are intrigued by the entire concept of both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) and the massive possibilities unlocking this technology could bring. It would be safe to say that with the obvious exception of the “Adult Entertainment Industry” the vision of an AR/VR casino would be pretty impressive and be a perfect fit within the gaming genre.

What Is VR and AR?

For those of you that are a little out of the loop or have been trapped on the dark side of the moon for the past few years and aren’t sure what AR and VR are, here is a quick explanation courtesy of Wikipedia:

Virtual reality (VR) typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user's physical presence in this environment, by enabling the user to interact with this space and any objects depicted therein using specialized display screens or projectors and other devices. A person using virtual reality equipment is typically able to "look around" the artificial world, move about in it and interact with features or items that are depicted on a screen or in goggles. 

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.

Clear? Good, then we’ll continue.

Person Using Pokemon GO

Growth Through Investment

According to a statistic from investment banking firm Digi-Capital, $2.3 billion has been invested in AR and VR over the past 12 months with a staggering $500 million invested in the last quarter alone. This is the ninth quarter in a row that’s seen a rise in investments which have averaged at over $9million which is a very clear sign that the financial world do see AR and VR as potential “boom” areas.

One of the biggest issues so far is, of course, the hardware. There is no doubt that there is significant financial backing from financial institutions and there are some fantastic top tier developers working on the software but where is the consumer demand and which platform is going to be the most successful?  Will VR dominate on a PC platform where owners will need to pay a significant premium to run AAA quality VR games through the Oculus hardware or will the console giants bring VR to the masses through their own hardware peripherals for their next generation consoles?

In a recent interview, the founder and MD of Digi-Capital, Tim Merel stated that he believed that out of the two, AR would be the most popular (around 4 times as popular with regards to net-worth). This is predominantly down to VR needing hardware such as headsets and the right console or PC as well as a usable controlled environment, whereas AR can be used anywhere due to its technological freedom. 

Google have already made significant steps forward in the AR world with their depth sensing technology, Tango, which recently made its consumer debut via the launch of the Lenovo Phab2 Pro phone. This new hardware was also supported by an impressive 35 new apps all available via the Play Store at the same time.

There is no doubt with the release of Sony’s VR offering and the huge rise of AR awareness thanks to the extraordinary success of Pokémon Go, that the video game industry is going to be one of the main driving forces behind market penetration of the hardware. This is going to be especially true for racing games such as Forza and Gran Tourismo and also first person shooting games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, both of which would give a truly amazing gaming experience.

Is VR And AR In The Social Casino Industry A Reality

What’s Next For KamaGames?

Looking specifically at our own portfolio, the opportunities are endless and the concept is an amazing one. Through the power of VR you could be sitting at a velvet-covered table, in a casino that you have chosen, maybe in Las Vegas, Macau, or London, you’d be able to look at your cards without the need to swivel your head around every few seconds. You’d be able to look around the table and actually see the other players around you, and of course see the dealer dealing your cards. 

Our players would be able to fully experience the atmosphere of a real casino. VR will be able to truly transport people to a genuine feeling of reality.

We are expecting AR to play a significant part of our growth as an industry too. Whereas with VR you require a headset and powerful hardware, think of what you could do with AR? You could be on a train and through the power of AR you could be staring at a Poker table with another four players all sat there too. Click on a players face at the table and see their stats appear, best win, skill level, even where in the world they are from, interact with players by sending animating gifts and drinks. Another opportunity is to create a casino around you if your friends are all playing in the same room – see them actually sat at a famous casino without them having to leave the house.

In Conclusion

There is no doubt that thanks to various breakthroughs in technology that it’s not just the video games industry that is going to benefit from this new entertainment medium and there are hugely exciting times ahead. The birth of Oculus, Pokémon Go, PlayStation VR and Google’s Daydream and Tango technology is just the start and over the next 12-18 months we are going to see another surge of growth as hardware becomes cheaper and software advances. 

Looking specifically at our industry and the social casino genre, the question that is still being asked is who is going to be the first to take this step forward? Who is going to actually make this a reality? 

The answer is pretty simple – We are.  

Watch this space…

In the meantime, see you at the tables… literally.

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