As more jurisdictions begin to regulate online gambling and internet penetration continues to rise across the
globe, more players are getting involved with iGaming. The potential audience for online gambling websites
continues to grow, making the already immensely competitive industry even more competitive.
In Great Britain alone, in 2017/18, 2820 operators were licensed by the Gambling Commission while the
remote sector accounts for 37.3 per cent of the gross gambling yield, or £5.4 billion, marking a 13.7 per cent
increase from 2016/17. As players can enjoy iGaming with many different operators at one time, each website
is always trying to attract new players. Due to the grandiose level of competition, each operator and developer
is constantly seeking new ways to get ahead, which has led to many technological innovations being
implemented across the board.
While technological innovations have been put to work in the table games section, with live casino games
being a grand example of this, the area that many developers are trying to revolutionise is that of online slot
games. By far the most popular product at online casinos, slots and the way that we play slots hasn’t changed
much since they were first introduced online. Sure, there are now games in the theme of popular movies, new
bonus features, and progressive jackpots, but they still play very much the same: select the bet size, select the
number of paylines, and press spin. For the most part, it’s very much a play to win format without much
immersion or desire to play for the experience.
But now, we appear to be in the early stages of a slot game revolution, with developers successfully creating
brand new ways to play the most popular of online casino games. With the primary aim of reaching the next
up-and-coming audience, these are the technological innovations that are changing the way that we think
Embracing virtual reality in slot games
Virtual reality has been an emerging space in video gaming for a long time, and while the likes of Oculus and
PlayStation VR have had success in the past, there is now a concerted effort by Sony and Nintendo to bolster
the standing of virtual reality gaming. Through the PlayStation VR headset and Nintendo Labo VR Kit, the two
video gaming giants are set to make waves across the industry with their upcoming range of virtual reality
equipment and titles.
Back in 2017, iGaming developer NetEnt showcased a demo at ICE for their upcoming release of a new virtual
reality rendition of one of their most popular slot games, Gonzo’s Quest. NetEnt showed that the game would
allow players to play the game in 3D, have a full 360-degree view, and merely have to look left or right to see
game information. As the game began to materialise fully, it became clear that Gonzo’s Quest VR was
everything that NetEnt promised, immersing players in an enchanting environment to play the popular online
Gonzo’s Quest is one of the best selections that NetEnt could have made to showcase the industry’s first major
venture into virtual reality slot gaming. It has a well-established player base and invites a naturally beautiful
setting from the theme, with Gonzo being based on a Spanish conquistador exploring the lands of the Aztec
Empire to find riches. With virtual reality, players can immerse themselves in the game’s world rather than just
tap spin on a screen, making the experience much more fulfilling and engaging.
Blending slot games with video games
When comparing online slot gaming with the likes of console, computer, and mobile gaming, the stark
difference, in most instances, is that players don’t have very much hands-on influence on the outcomes of slot
spins, whereas the other platforms of gaming often invoke an element of decision-making or skill.
Throughout 2018, developers Betsoft embarked on a huge advertising and showcasing campaign for a new
game which they claimed would be the future of slot gaming. Towards the end of last year, Betsoft finally
unleashed Max Quest: Wrath of Ra unto the world, stating that it was the first of their revolutionary new
interactive gaming genre, per Calvin Ayre. The game features multiplayer of up to six players, role-playing
elements such as character customisation, leaderboards and prizes, achievements, XP-driven player
progression, and special weapons.
The most exciting element is that the player’s decisions influence wins as they aim their guns to shoot down
various undead beings of ancient Egypt to find treasures and cash prizes while making their way to the boss
battle. Each shot costs a coin, effectively taking the place of the spin button, but if a player’s shot misses, the
bullet rebounds to hit a beast or comes back to the ammo stack, otherwise known as the balance. Betsoft have
successfully created a slot game that has the feel, gameplay, and elements of decision-making from video
gaming which will certainly appeal to many potential players.
Utilising virtual technology and successfully employing elements of the video gaming experience could become
a new standard of slot gaming as the space moves forward.