We’re a little over a month into the new year and already talk is hotting up about 2016 becoming the year of virtual reality.

In 2012, the little know Oculus Rift launched a Kickstarter campaign and quickly raised $2.4m for their products development.  Fast forward two years and the company was poked, liked, then acquired by the superpower, Facebook.

Oculus Rift VR Gaming

Last year saw similar products highlighted at events like E3 from the likes of Playstation VR, expected release 2016, Microsoft HoloLens, expected release late 2016 and HTC Vive, expected release date, April 2016.  

Oculus Rift’s pre-orders are expected to begin shipping as early as the 28th of March.

So, to today and Google have waded into the VR war with the California-based firm working on a VR headset which will be a follow up to its Google Cardboard platform.  

According to the Financial Times, Google’s new VR product will feature “better sensors, lenses and a more solid plastic casing.” 

Like Cardboard the new headset will rely on a smartphone for its display and “most of its processing power.”  This product is expected to be available later this year.

So with all the major gaming players now involved – not forgetting Nintendo who are also planning some sort of VR release in the not too distant future – it’s clear that VR is the big innovation for 2016.  And it’s not just gaming that’s expected to benefit from the VR boom.  

The adult industry is also expected to be revolutionised by VR, indeed another start-up company, VirtuaDolls have recently made headlines after having to temporarily suspend their campaign due to overwhelming demand for the product.

Adult Virtual Reality 2016

So to the real money gaming industry.  We saw some ties created between the gambling industry and virtual reality being formed in 2015 with William Hill showcasing their, Get in the Race initiative.  This fuses GPS race track data with VR technology in order to create and immersive 3D race experience for the user where they can race (and course bet) as a jockey.

Crispin Niebor, William Hill’s director or corporate development and innovation, said at the time “The trials will help us decide whether to take it mass market, and will also inform as to how. For example we could create an installation which could go in our stores – someone could once there put on a headset and immediately be immersed in the environment. Or we could provide it just through mobile with Google Cardboard. We will need to decide if we should allow people to bet in it or whether it should just be the experience once you have already placed your bet on mobile or online.There is a bunch of stuff we could do with it”

William Hill Get in the Race

This kind of immersive gaming initiative whilst in it’s infancy is something that the real money gaming industry is starting to take notice of.

We’ve seen over the last few years a decline in popularity of bricks and mortar casinos in favour of the online experience but where this falls flat is the social aspect, with previously whole communities springing up from groups of people gaming together at casinos.  

This has been addressed recently by more and more casinos introducing the ‘live casino’ functionality where you can play against real people and real dealers but they could do more.

Enter, SlotMillions.  Having launched in late October, this is a real money multiplayer VR casino that features 40 unique poplar online slot games from software giants like NetEnt and Microgaming. 

In it, you can visit the bar, choose to play any number of 3D slots games, chat with other players, and even just look out the window of the skyscraper penthouse and admire the view, just don’t look down.

The only sticking point for VR in 2016 is that whilst it is a new medium it’s very expensive and so due to the costs involved of not just purchasing the head sets (which themselves aren’t that expensive) but also the console to power them, (they are very expensive) the type of consumer who will be able to afford it is likely to be the millennial who are more used to Halo 5 than traditional slot games.

VR and the real money gaming industry is a match made in heaven as through VR you can appeal to the younger demographic – the millennials – through creating a truly immersive gambling experience you are able to keep people engaged.  This is half the battle with the industry.

The last few years has seen massive technological advancements with VR and real money gaming industries will need to modernise too in order to catch this new wave of millennials wanting to immerse themselves in the buzz that is VR.

Phil Twigg is the PPC & SEM Advertising Manager at Dice London.  Phil is a PPC specialist with 9 years experience in digital marketing for a number of global brands.

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