There is no doubt that 2019 was the most important year for Virtual Sports betting yet. The industry continued to grow at a fast pace, with a massive number of customers experiencing the wide variety of Virtual Sports betting options for the first time.
In addition, it was a year that saw a number of new products hit casinos and online sports betting sites, including games such as Virtual Cricket, Virtual Darts, Virtual Basketball, Virtual American Football, new sprint versions of Horseracing and Greyhounds as well as a brand new Virtual Grand National offering which we took a closer look at last week.
It was a year where we saw the first real attempts to move away from completely computer-generated simulation of sports events, to games that included specially filmed action involving real players and sports people. We have also seen the technology used in Virtual Sports being developed at an incredible rate to allow for not only more realistic game production, but also an expansion in the number and types of markets available to bet on.
So if 2019 was an important year in the Virtual Sports betting industry, then 2020 is going to be every bit as crucial once again and of course, how the industry develops over the year will largely be determined by the types of Virtual Sports and different game offerings that are made available to customers over the coming months.
In this article, we are going to gaze into the crystal ball a little to take a look at what Virtual Sports developments and games we are likely to see in 2020 and to begin with, we are going to quickly preview one Virtual Sports offering that could well be set to be released at your preferred online sports betting site very soon.
Inspired’s Virtual Hockey
After introducing Virtual Darts and Cricket in the early part of 2019, Inspired’s next offering was to introduce more American-styled Virtual game offerings to customers with the release of Virtual American Football in the year, along with Virtual Basketball (although this has since been removed from some sites).
There’s no doubt that these American sports themed Virtuals proved to be a positive hit with players and punters alike, so much so that the news from Inspired is that they have agreed a deal to produce a Virtual Hockey (or perhaps more accurately, Virtual Ice Hockey) game which will likely be released at some point in 2020.
What this game is and the betting markets that will be made available on it, are not yet fully ascertained, but we think that it will follow a similar pattern to the other Virtual games that are based on American Sports, where specially filmed footage is used as the highlights package and there are a small number of markets, at least initially, for punters to bet on.
As yet, there is no confirmed date for this game to be released but given how quickly other games have been released over the past few months, we think that a release date at some point in the first six months of 2020 is a good timeframe.
Virtual Football Development
In 2019, we saw Inspired make a bold move in their horse racing Virtual Sports, by increasing the number of offerings there. First we saw a Sprint game offered, with short races with the same number of runners in each. Then we saw a Grand National game released later in the year which replicates the famous race which is held every April at Aintree in Liverpool.
Given that horseracing is one of the two most popular forms of betting online, the fact that the other is football suggests to me that Virtual Football could well be next in line for a little revamping across 2020.
Since Virtual Football was first released, little has been changed with the game itself. The same graphics package, betting markets and highlights are used in the game and in truth, compared to some of the newer offerings, Virtual Football is perhaps starting to show signs of age.
As such, it would not surprise me in the least to discover that alongside the new Virtual games being released, Inspired are working on revamping their Virtual Football offering. While I can’t see the current games offered being withdrawn, I can see alternatives being offered, including games that have better graphics, or perhaps even use footage from older football games, as the basis for the highlights package.
I also feel that there needs to be some kind of contextual element to the next Virtual Football offering, where players can not only bet on the outcome of an individual game, but also on the tournament in which the game is taking place. There are already Virtual Football games available that offer league and cup-based competitions to provide context for the game and I can see this being a positive move for Inspired in 2020.
Virtual Olympics 2020?
One possibility for this year is for one or more of the companies that produce Virtual Sports to look into the feasibility of offering Virtual Olympics. This year, the 2020 Olympics will take place in Tokyo, Japan and of course, there will be massive sporting interest in this Global sports event.
Now while the Olympics are traditionally not the greatest event in terms of sports betting (events such as the football World Cup, or even this summer’s European Championships tend to be more productive for sports betting sites), there is no doubt that Virtual Sports has the ability to expand its scope beyond traditional sports that people like to bet on.
A globally significant event, such as the Olympics, would therefore be a good opportunity for a company to test the water to see if there is an appetite in the Virtual Sports community to bet on a number of Olympic themed events.
Indeed, in some events, it would be very easy to make Virtual Sports betting games out of them including many race events (you could easily incorporate any race-themed events, while other events could be added using archival footage of events and competitors over the years, if the rights to that footage could be obtained).
While I admit that a Virtual Olympics is a long shot, it is something that I think would be worth considering given that the only limitations Virtual Sports betting can have, is those imposed by itself.