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Is Virtual Reality still a reliable trend to bet on?

Do you also feel like Virtual Reality is something the tech industry made us all excited about a few years ago and we’re still waiting for it to become a thing? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to bash Virtual Reality games. I’ve played some of them and I kind of enjoyed what I could put my hands on, but people are not exactly lining up to buy the next expensive VR set as they often do when a new iPhone comes out. However, here’s a list of cool VR games I’d like to share with you as a proof of my sympathy for VR gaming.

Back to our topic, VR sets sales slowed down as the hype lost momentum but, apparently, got back on track at the end of 2017 and are likely to hit 1.5 million in unit sales at the end of 2018. That still doesn’t come close to consoles average sales in the US in one single year, which was about 10 million units in 2017 alone. It turns out, even the biggest players in VR, like Sony and Take-Two interactive, have already become skeptical about consumers’ interest and are mostly envisioning a slow-paced adoption for the next years.

As VR gadgets sales success is still a promise we are betting on, other businesses are already lurking around to make sure they take a share of a potential profitability. VR technology is finding a home in location-based entertainment, where you go to experience virtual reality in a private facility wearing a business-owned gear; in training; in healthcare, as in an application for speeding up recovery after a patient experienced a stroke, in childbirth (what?!), and porn, of course.

However, some say VR could be headed to find a powerful ally in online gaming, which is currently considered one of the “fastest growing business sectors in the world” with around one billion consumers globally. China, the US, and Japan are at top of that market looking at the notable rise in India’s online gaming market growth in 2017.

The current scenario resonates with the massive increase in online casino gaming, a niche that generated US$4.5 billion in 2017. According to JP Morgan, this segment will add 8%-10% in growth in the Asia Pacific region in 2019, where the market is the second largest in the world following North America. And although they’re not widely available, VR gambling experiences are already in the making, especially with live casino games that some websites are offering. Maybe to save the VR industry?

This trend is old news for professor Mark Griffiths, a researcher in Behavioural Addiction at Nottingham Trent University and director of the International Gaming Research Unit. Dr. Griffiths believes the gambling industry is one of the first ones to drive investments for promising technological advancements. In a publication by CGi Magazine, Dr. Griffiths says that VR gambling applications will provide the player with an immersive casino experience. How about playing poker with virtually present opponents while surrounded by a casino atmosphere?

There are more uncertainties and skepticisms than easy predictions at the moment. Additionally, there doesn’t seem to have enough research into the effects of VR gambling that could account for the effectiveness or the psychological effects of it. However, professor Griffiths hints at the possibility of VR gambling experiences being used even for treating gambling addiction patients, given the already established validity of virtually generated casinos as simulation tools.

In the meantime, let’s keep an eye for the new developments in VR technologies and VR gaming as different industries come up with new and exciting ways to explore it in their own way.


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