Virtual Reality has been the Holy Grail of computer fans since we were first enthralled by the idea in 20th-Century science fiction. Unfortunately, Star Trek’s holodeck is still a long way off, but at least the first working VR technology has been launched, while we await Marty McFly’s hoverboard. VR headset systems have been around for a year, but their cost and the computing power they require sees them still restricted to early adopters.
That’s likely to change as the technology gets better and cheaper, of course. In fact, with online casino gaming already a $50-billion operation per year, it’s estimated that the VR Casino Games market could be worth $520-million per annum within four years. The market for pure computer games, with no gambling component, is likely to be even larger.
Now online casino games giant NetEnt has come up with the perfect excuse for online casino games enthusiasts to try out a VR headset experience. Gonzo’s Quest, one of the Stockholm NASDAQ-listed operation’s most popular slots titles, is receiving a VR makeover for release in late-2017/early-2018.
The big attraction of VR is the immersive gaming experience it can offer. Online and mobile casinos already do a pretty good job of mimicking the look and feel of land-based casino games, but a VR casino will be able to give players the experience of actually moving through the casino, playing at virtual machines and tables and interacting with casino staff and other players.
NetEnt Focusing on VR Games
Full VR casinos online are taking a while to get off the ground, however. The reason for this is the enormous amount of coding that goes into taking the 3D graphics and animations already used in digital casino games, and converting them into a 360-degree wraparound environment; plus, of course, the programming involved in creating that realistic casino-floor environment.
NetEnt’s solution to this slow process is to focus on converting existing game titles to VR versions, so that the creation of a fully integrated VR casino in the future becomes easier. Gonzo’s Quest is the first game they’re converting like this, and the preview video NetEnt has released makes it look pretty exciting.
Spanish conquistador Gonzo is again searching for lost hoards of gold in the South American jungle, accompanied by a vocal toucan/macaw mash-up. But the player is now immersed with him in a 3D VR environment, with game info on one wall and the game’s tumbling boxes in front.
Game controls unroll on a scroll in front of the player, while special effects and bonus prizes pop out from the other side of the screen, and showers of gold erupt to celebrate wins.
It’s a fully rendered environment, with lots of space to add extra surprises for players. Gonzo’s Quest VR combines real-money gambling with a number of levels that the player moves through, so in effect the gap between quest-type computer games and casino gambling games is being closed by VR technology. This suggests some enticing possibilities for even more complex gambling games in the near future.
NetEnt Casino Module
The multinational slots developer is timing the release of Gonzo’s Quest VR to coincide with WebVR reaching a mature enough stage to support gameplay properly. With younger casino games fans especially looking for more immersive gambling experiences online, it’s likely that VR casino games will stimulate the adoption of VR in general.
Gonzo’s Quest VR will also have the distinction of being the first real-money VR slots game ever released. NetEnt plans to add the game to its current multi-channel offering, making it available to consumers through the existing NetEnt Casino Module.