Can you be found enjoying a few cheeky spins on a slot machine every now and then? You are not alone; slots are one of the most popular ways to gamble online. The industry is constantly searching for new ways they can revitalise the games and each developer is searching for ways to keep their games at the forefront of everyone’s minds. One of the many ways which has been found is the path of Virtual Reality.
What is VR?
Virtual reality is a digital sensory experience which is designed to fully immerse you in a digital environment while cutting out the real world at the same time. In modern terms, this involves wearing a VR headset and using two controls to act as hands within the environment. Users may also choose to wear headphones or ear phones to block out background audio noise and only provide the noise of whatever they are doing within the VR world. It has many commercial applications, from military to medicinal, but is primarily used in a private capacity for gaming.
When the Oculus Rift prototype first launched in 2010, it opened up the world to the possibility of VR gaming. More models followed, as well as competitors including the HTC Vive and the Playstation VR. Popular games like Skyrim and Fallout 4 were remastered and ported into a virtual reality world, and the market flourished as new independent titles were released every week.
As the mainstream gaming market began to fully immerse themselves into this new VR world, the slots industry began to follow.
Founded in 1996, NetEnt has emerged as one of, if not the, best slot developer of the current times. They have consistently brought out amazing games with stunning graphics that have consistently wowed their players. When it comes to the games themselves, they are also the brains behind some of the most cunning innovations in slots history.
In particular, the slot Starburst may very well be the most popular slot ever made. Nearly every casino out there will feature Starburst prominently. It is a simple game but it still has amazing graphics even now five years after its release. You can also frequently find it offered as part of a free spins package for new players at casinos.
When it comes to innovative games, we cannot help but mention Aloha! It was their first game to feature their amazing Cluster Pays mechanic. Previously, games operated using the paylines which had been present in slots ever since their invention back in 1895. This mechanic, however, used groupings of five or more adjacent symbols to make the wins. it completely revolutionised the gaming industry. Nowadays, you can play plenty of games which use either the traditional paylines or this new cluster mechanic.
This is not the only innovative mechanic which NetEnt has devised. Their slot Gonzo’s Quest has been a fan favourite since its release in 2011. Featuring the adventures of Gonzo the Conquistador on his search for El Dorado, the player spins their way through the jungle and other obstacles. It was also the first time which NetEnt used their Avalanche mechanic.
The Avalanche mechanic uses the paylines in a new and interesting way. In other games, a win is awarded to a payline and then the game will spin again and take a new turn. With the Avalanche mechanic, this doesn’t happen. A winning payline will instead explode and new symbols will rain down onto the reels. This means that you could potentially land multiple wins one after another from a single spin! At the time, it was an amazing innovation to the slots world. Just like with the Cluster Pays, it was not long before other developers were bringing out their own games which used the Avalanche mechanic.
Gonzo’s Quest is not just noteworthy because of the Avalanche mechanic. In 2017, NetEnt announced that they were going to develop this classic game of theirs into a VR game. This would make it one of the first Virtual Reality slot games on the market and would open up a new era of technology and design.
This required some clever innovations on NetEnt’s part. Since a slot is a fixed screen but VR allows you to move your head in all directions, they had to come up with something to fill all the gaps that weren’t reels. Their solution? Have a permanent paytable which you can view with just a turn of your head.
They also made sure that they would be able to hit multiple markets by ensuring that the game was compatible with nearly every VR headset on the market. Many games currently available for VR can only be used for one brand of headset. There is also no real reason for players to own each of the headsets unless they are hardcore gamers or they run something like a Twitch stream or a YouTube gaming channel. Of the private individuals who own VR gear, they are only likely to own one brand. Therefore, NetEnt is making sure that their slot has the chance to reach as many potential players as possible.
Into the Future
Gonzo’s Quest was just the beginning. It is now possible to play VR versions of all your favourite online casino games including blackjack and roulette. Entire casinos have been created specifically for VR users. What could be a better way to escape? You can now truly feel like you are in the glitziest of casinos, betting big and hopefully winning big, only to be actually sitting on our sofas in our favourite pyjamas. VR represents the ultimate escapism and we are truly excited to see where it is going to take us.
NetEnt has also been quick to follow up Gonzo’s Quest with VR versions of their popular games Jack and the Beanstalk and Starburst. They have dominated the VR market for now, and we wait with bated breath to see what they will come out with next.