Having seen Inspired release both Virtual Cricket and Virtual Darts in recent months, both arguably the first in the next generation of Virtual Sports games, we already know that the company has been working on three more additional Virtual Sports offerings, all of which should be released at some point in 2019.
The company has told its partners that they are working on new versions of Virtual Horseracing and Virtual Greyhounds for later this year, while they also recently completed filming of action sequences at a Las Vegas-based court for the forthcoming Virtual Basketball offering, which is also slated to be released at some point in 2019.
It therefore promises to be the most exciting year in Virtual Sports pretty much since the first Virtual Sports games were introduced onto sports betting sites such as Betway and bet365 Sport a few years ago. Which has led to me thinking about what other sports we would like to see as a Virtual Sport at some point in the near future.
Before I come up with my suggestions, here’s where we stand in terms of the Virtual Sports offered as standard by some bookmakers across the UK. We’ve used bet365 Sport as the focus for this part of the article.
Current Virtual Sports Available at bet365
- Virtual Horseracing
- Virtual Greyhounds
- Virtual Speedway
- Virtual Cycling
- Virtual Motor Sports
- Virtual Trotting
- Virtual Football
- Virtual Tennis
- Virtual Cricket
- Virtual Darts
Now it’s no coincidence that the Virtual Sports available are all based on some of the most popular betting sports available today. However, as we have said many times in these pages, Virtual Sports is not meant to be reflective of real-life sports betting, in as much as form, statistics and other information punters can use to help inform their bet, cannot be used in Virtual Sports betting. Instead, it is a far more randomised event with only the odds of each selection a guide as to their chances of success.
As such, this makes Virtual Sports betting much more akin to slots gaming and as we know with slots gaming, a slot game can be based upon almost any theme and I think this is where we are going to see Virtual Sports diversify over the years as there are some sports which may not be the most popular real-life sports to bet on, but which could be perfectly suited to a Virtual Sports betting game.
So what are the Virtual Sports we’d like to see companies like Inspired working on over the coming months and years? Outlined below are just a few suggestions of what Virtual Sports would be exciting options to play and also how they could be realised and brought to life within the current scope and technology available to Virtual Sports creators.
Virtual Sports the Next Generation?
There are two sports in particular that I think would be great to see as the Virtual Sports of tomorrow, let’s take a look at both.
There’s no doubt that of the ‘big’ sports in terms of popularity and participation, golf is without doubt a tough one to be able to produce a Virtual Sports game for.
Part of the problem is how golf is played, with tournaments typically contested over four days and players usually playing on average between 260 and 280 shots across those days in order to win the tournament. With a field of well over a hundred players at most tournaments, trying to squeeze this into a highlights package of a minute or so, while making sense of the endless betting opportunities seems almost impossible.
This is why I feel for Virtual Golf to work, developers would need to adopt a different approach and I think a one-hole playoff, using matchplay or stroke play rules, would be a potential alternative.
By limiting the Virtual Golf to one hole and just a small number of players (you could potentially have two, three or maybe four players playing in the playoff) you would have enough time in a highlights package of say, 2 minutes on average, to watch each of the shots of the players in full and to view the playoff to a conclusion.
Of course, there would be betting available on who wins the hole, but you could also have a number of other side bets, such as betting on whether a player would hit the fairway, rough, bunker or water with their shot, how many putts they will take to hole the ball, whether their drive will be above or below a certain distance in length and similar.
The highlights package would then play through the hole with each player taking their shot one after the other until the hole is completed and a winner Is decided, or the players tie the hole.
Using Virtual Darts as a template, this would be relatively easy to film and the footage could be easily incorporated into a Virtual Sport. Also, there is a burgeoning seniors tour for golf and it may well be possible and affordable for a Virtual Sport developer to work with the senior tour players to incorporate them into the game to add a further degree of realism to the game.
Of course, you could also increase the number of holes that the playoff is played out over (including par 3, par 4 or par 5 holes) and you could even have each player playing the final hole with a lead or disadvantage (so player A may be leading the tournament at say -7, with player B on -6 under), and this would allow the company to offer a broader range of bets, especially on the to win market.
Of all the sports that I think there is scope for a Virtual Sports to be made,I think Virtual Athletics is the one which offers the greatest amount of possibilities, a real change of pace to the standard Virtual Sports offering and a wide-ranging number of experiences based on different athletic events.
How would it work? Well we already know that race-based games are relatively common Virtual Sports as they are easy to simulate and create betting markets on. So with athletics, you could have many different races, such as the 100m, 110m hurdles, 100m hurdles, 200m, 400m and 400m hurdles, all of which would take between 10 seconds to 50 seconds to view in full.
This means that you could either have a longer betting period of the Virtual Sport, or have quick fire Virtual Sports betting available for races such as the 100m or 200m, which you could, in theory, organise to run at one race per minute. Allowing the opportunity for people to place more bets.
Again, the filming of these events would be relatively easy and it may well be possible to use real life athletes as the licensing costs in terms of utilising some of the big name athletes may be considerably less than say using real life football teams or racehorses.
However, Virtual Athletics does not have to end with races. There could also be Virtual Field Events too, with competitors allowed one attempt each to try and win the event. This would allow you to use many different field events, including all the throwing events and jumping events, with perhaps the exception of the Pole Vault.
I think Virtual Athletics could be combined into one large Virtual Sports theme as the Virtual Olympics and you could then add to this selection over time. Starting with the track and field events outlined above and over time, you could then add other Olympic-based Virtual Sports to the selection.
These are just my two takes on what I feel would be great additions to the Virtual Sports of tomorrow. What would your choice be for a Virtual Sport to play at your chosen bookmaker?