Casino VR May Be VR’s Most Promising Game

vr headset

SamsungGearVR_1We’re still in the very early days of virtual reality, at least as it relates to in home entertainment, and right now it’s difficult to imagine how the market will develop. We have yet to see all of the major headsets made available, and naturally we’re only scratching the surface of the gaming experiences those headsets will support. But as exciting as it’s been to watch the process unfolding throughout 2016, one distinct issue remains for VR developers: physical motion.

A lot of the more ambitious VR games out there involve the idea of movement within the environment you’re “seeing” through the headset. Right now, this is primarily done through a joystick or control pad of some kind, and while that enables the games to be perfectly playable, it actually creates physical discomfort for some people. “VR motion sickness” is a popularly discussed topic these days, with one scientist claiming that it’s rooted in a mismatch between the visual and vestibular systems. Basically, that means that your eyes and your internal balancing or motion-sensing mechanisms are telling your brain different things, which can result in a feeling similar to seasickness or car sickness.

That doesn’t mean that games involving motion can’t be worked out. But this is one of the biggest hurdles VR developers are facing. As we’ve noted before, more intensive VR systems like the Cyberith Virtualizer may ultimately provide the answer, as they allow for actual physical movements that can be used in shooters, adventure games, etc. However, these systems haven’t gone mainstream yet, and when they do they’ll likely be very expensive when compared to VR headsets or any gaming consoles.

In the meantime, it stands to reason that VR games that depend less on motion could be among the most successful ones in the early going. This includes a range of titles and genres. There are racing games, piloting games, building and crafting experiences, and perhaps most interestingly a poker game (called Casino VR), which you can see in action here.

In a way, virtual reality poker has been a long time coming. The game went digital many years ago, and spawned an online poker industry that facilitates millions of dollars’ worth of activity all over the world each year. And just as the game has grown more popular (even while remaining largely illegal in the United States), it has become more sophisticated online. Even before the advent of VR, you could get the real-life suspense of a physical Casino by playing in a live dealer poker, blackjack, or roulette environment online. That means interacting with other players and dealers in real time and even seeing a video feed of a dealer who’s controlling the action. In a way, it’s was the closest example we had to a mainstream VR game before the headsets started coming out.

One of the reasons that we were able to see a version of casino virtual reality before VR headsets emerged is that this is a simple form of gaming that can be enjoyed almost exclusively with visual activity. In other words, getting back to the scientific explanation of VR motion sickness, the vestibular system doesn’t really come into play. It’s just about what you see, where you tilt your head, and which card you play.

The nature of card gaming, in addition to the fact that casino activity is wildly popular all over the world, make games like Casino VR uniquely suited to capture the attention of modern gamers trying out VR headsets. This is not at all to say that only casino games can succeed on VR. But they may be among the ones that end up making the biggest impact as we see the VR market continue to evolve.

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