A little while back, we talked and examined what types of Virtual Sports would be contenders to be added to the series of games already available to play at sites like 10Bet and Betway. However, this article got me thinking and wondering about how the future of Virtual Sports could develop and to the perhaps obvious truth, that in future Virtual Sports may not even be based on ‘sports’ as we would recognise them today.
We have already seen in recent news items that a company is already considering using footage taken from esports events to put together their own Virtual Esports betting game. Esports of course, being the realm of competitive gaming where teams of players or individuals compete against each other across a variety of games, such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch and more to win what are becoming increasingly vast sums of money.
There is also the very salient point that Virtual Sports are based on popular sports because this form of betting is very popular. This is why we have Virtual Football and Virtual Horse Racing, rather than Virtual Crown Green Bowling, because these sports are massively popular betting markets in their own right.
However, as we are only at the very start of the Virtual Sports industry, it is going to be interesting to see how we develop as an industry and I think given the potential it has as a betting medium, there is massive potential for the Virtual Sports industry to diversify into other areas, often not at all linked with traditional sports betting.
What do we mean by that? Well let’s examine what the criteria is for a typical Virtual Sports game at the moment.
Virtual Sports at Present
At the moment, the Virtual Sports scene is dominated, as you would expect, by generated versions of real life sports, in particular those sports that are very popular as forms of sports betting. This includes the likes of football, horseracing and greyhound racing in particular.
However, alongside these games are a number of Virtuals that are relatively easy to program in and offer betting on, which has seen the likes of games such as Virtual Cycling and Virtual Speedway to name but two.
In addition, we have a number of ‘next-generation’ games that are including real life footage filmed specifically for the Virtual Sport itself as its main form of presentation as is the case with Virtual Darts and Virtual Basketball.
However, what is important to note is that after soccer betting and horseracing betting, Virtual Sports are now the third most important line of revenue for sports betting companies, which tends to suggest that Virtuals betting is now a ‘thing’ in its own right and that opens up plenty of different avenues for Virtuals in the future.
You’ll note that I have not said Virtual Sports, because I don’t feel that future Virtual games need to be limited to sports and there are possibilities to explore a whole different arena of virtual games in the future?
What do we mean? Well here are just some possible ideas for Virtual betting games of tomorrow.
Virtual betting in the future
One of the things that makes Virtual Betting different to real sports betting is that with Virtuals, you are not limited to a sport that can be played in real life. Virtual games could be about anything that you would like to bet on, from something as mundane as betting on two virtual raindrops racing down a window, to a full-scale galactic battle between several protagonists, fought out on a universal scale, where only one can prevail.
This flexibility is I think the key to future Virtual games offering. I can see a time when programmers will be able to devise games and betting options completely divorced from real life sports and which have their own identity, even if it solely exists within the real of a Virtual betting game.
For example, you could have a Virtual betting game based on something akin to the popular Streetfighter or Mortal Kombat series of games, where you have a number of characters battling it out on screen over a minute or so, where the characters would defeat each other in battle until just the one remains as the winner.
Each bout could see betting on which fighter would be the winner, and the method of the victory for that fighter. You could also bet on how quickly, or slowly, a fighter was eliminated from the contest. This is rather similar to the types of betting that you would find on MMA or Boxing bouts in real sports but transferred into the fantasy realm.
I can also see the day coming when there are tie-ins between big film franchises or TV shows and Virtual companies who can then produce one or a series of Virtual games based on that franchise. For example, I think in the example above, if your battle was contested between characters from, say the Marvel Cinematic Universe (so the likes of Hulk, Thor, Spiderman, Ironman, Thanos etc), then this would have massive appeal to customers. Similarly, you could use characters taken from video games, or TV shows.
I think this aspect of Virtual Sports is one that companies will be looking at in detail in the very near future as I think there is huge potential for this type of game. We have already seen that some slot games that have been tied in with popular franchises and TV shows, such as Game of Thrones, Batman, Superman and Ghostbusters, have produced some very popular slot games with fans.
I can see Virtual Sports eventually heading down this route and of course, the game designers have almost free reign to decide what type of game they would like to make. Imagine a Game of Thrones virtual where you can put the big houses of Westeros against each other in AI-contested battles to see which of them comes out on top? Or a Star Wars Virtual which allows you to bet on whether the Empire or Rebels come out on top in the galactic conflict?
I also feel you could utilise sports in other ways in future Virtual games. I think boxing is a good example of this where you often hear debates over who was the best heavyweight of all time or similar. You could design a Virtual Sports game which would pit a number of top heavyweight boxers against each other over a number of contests to see who would be the best of the best.
This is the most exciting part of Virtual Sports. We have only just scratched the surface of what is possible and it is true that the next few years in the industry promise to deliver a great deal more.