One of this year's most exciting product reveals (so far) was Apple’s new augmented reality headset, the Vision Pro. As you might expect, the presentation video sparked much debate about the nature of the new product that not even its price tag could diminish. Part of the debate was about gaming, especially after a segment of the presentation showed a user playing video games on the headset. As such, we can’t help but wonder if casual games, especially casino games, will have a future on these platforms.
The State of the Market
Back in the early 2010s, when Palmer Luckey presented the first devkit for the Oculus Rift, everyone was burning with a VR fever. Game enthusiasts, educators, filmmakers, and much of the public were excited about it, imagining a future similar to a William Gibson novel. But things didn’t go exactly as planned. The headsets were bulky, uncomfortable, and expensive. The games and experiences released for the platforms were few, and unconvincing. All this has caused the growth of the platform to be sluggish - it didn’t catch up with gaming consoles and smartphones to this day.
When it comes to AR headsets, things were never as good as in the case of VR. Google’s Glass died before becoming mainstream, Microsoft’s HoloLens costs a fortune, and MagicLeap was never popular outside some very specific industrial uses. This is the market where Apple and Meta try to introduce their new products, the Vision Pro, and the Quest Pro.
A Promising Start, Then Nothing
The thing is, virtual casino platforms had a promising start. Microgaming, perhaps the biggest early adopter, created a fully-fledged virtual roulette platform that earned the adulation of the entire iGaming industry. Unfortunately, VR Roulette was never released, just like no other virtual casino saw the light of day. The thing closest to it is PokerStars VR on the Oculus Quest 2, which does offer multiplayer poker, but not the real-money variety.
Will VR and AR Gambling Ever Be Mainstream?
Most likely yes - but not in the short term. Adapting software to the new platforms takes time and effort. Right now, there may not be a big enough player base looking to play real money casino games in VR or AR for it to be worth it.
At one point, though, the potential user base will likely reach a “critical mass” of sorts, and we’ll see major iGaming developers turn their attention toward this platform. Imagine the possibilities: existing casinos like the Sands or the Venetian could be recreated in virtual form, allowing players to take a stroll on their halls, and sit down at any of their gaming tables, maybe even the world-famous jackpot slots of Las Vegas.
There are many exciting things happening in the world of VR and AR. Hopefully, this will bring us closer to virtual casinos after years and years of waiting. Until then, we’re stuck with browser-based games and casino apps that we can run on our computers and smartphones - which is not a problem because they work great on all of them.