One of the most pleasing aspects about Virtual Sports is that they can literally be based on almost any sporting event. While we have examples of Virtual Football, Virtual Horseracing, Virtual Greyhounds and the like, the way that these pieces of software are put together means that the only parameter any sport needs to have to be a potential Virtual Sport is
- A viable betting market that can be styled to Virtual Sports gaming
- The ability to be condensed down into a shorter format to be represented graphically in the highlights part of the software
Of course, that essentially means that almost any sport you can bet on in the real world could become a Virtual Sport. Already there are rumours circulating of a number of new Virtual titles being in development, particularly with reference to the emerging American market in Virtual Sports betting. Virtual versions of American Football, Baseball, Basketball and even Ice Hockey are all believed to be in the plans of ambitious software developers.
Elsewhere, it would not surprise me to see other developers follow suit and add a number of other popular sports to the current roster of Virtual Sports available. In terms of betting alone, there could be a huge amount of interest if Virtual Sports were developed for the likes of:
- Rugby (League and/or Union)
- Athletics (particularly sprint races)
Indeed, in an ever-expanding industry and one that is growing in popularity with punters, it would be somewhat foolish for the top companies that offer Virtual Sports to rest on their laurels and assume their current offering would suffice all present and future players. As such, I think newer Virtual Sports will be released over the coming years.
Why restrict Virtual betting to Sports alone?
Now one good question to ask here is that if you can develop a Virtual Sports betting simulation for almost any sport, then why do you always have to base it on real-world sports?
Some may argue that the fact that the simulation is related to the real world sports events makes it more appealing, but in truth Virtual Sports betting is very different to betting on real life sports events and of course, how the outcome of those bets is go is decided by the software, rather than genuine sporting performance.
This raises the question of whether sports betting sites could be missing a trick with their Virtual Sports offering as there is absolutely no requirement for them to base their offerings on sports. They could customise certain games and try to attract punters with more humorous Virtual offerings.
Putting the Fun into Virtual Sports
What do we mean by this? Well there is no doubt that for many people, gambling is a form of escapism and the chance to enjoy themselves by enjoying a flutter on something. Virtual Sports is one way to do this, but if we focus on the enjoyment part as well as the betting part, why not diversify and introduce a little more comedic element into surroundings?
A good example of what I mean comes in the game Granny Prix, where the aim for the player is to bet on which of the Grannies in their wheelchairs, will win a race. It’s a simple, betting game that isn’t based on any reality, but in its own way, it is a form of Virtual Sport. Punters bet on a Granny to win and if the software pans out that she does, then the player will win a stated amount of cash based on the prize for that Granny.
Granny Prix therefore offers us a potential way to expand Virtual Sports beyond the sporting realm and into the world of entertainment too and there are a number of ways you could do this.
- Themed Games – You could follow the example set by Granny Prix and have a number of Virtual Races of other comical competitors. This could be a race between various famous people (The Hollywood Hundred Metres for example), You could also allow a customisable version of this where players could name their competitors (but not edit any of the key data in the game), so they could have their own customisable race between them, their friends, or indeed anybody they would like to see on screen.
- TV-Tie ins – Certain TV shows prove very popular with people at the moment and these include competitive baking shows (such as the Great British Bake Off and Masterchef) as well as Reality TV shows. You could have Virtual versions of these shows where comedic elements are shown in the presentation and where you could bet on a number of different items. Which of the contestants will win the show? Who will burn their cake? Will one chef have a “soggy bottom” leading them to lose?
- Fantasy Races – Who would win in a race between Monopoly pieces around the Monopoly board? Who would win a 800m race between a variety of different animals, with perhaps little distractions dotted around the track which can slow certain creatures down, while speeding others up? The only limit here is the imagination of the game creators as to what could be realistically bet upon and then presented in a highlights package to punters.
- Historic Match Ups – Who would win between the Brazil 1970 World Cup Winning team and the 2014 World Cup winners Germany? Would Rod Laver beat Roger Federer? Would Muhammed Ali at his best defeat Mike Tyson? Virtual Sports has the opportunity to offer punters a chance to witness the answers to some great sporting debates, as well as the chance to bet on them too. This is perhaps a natural progression for Virtual Sports as it is a sporting theme, but it uses historic data from a variety of sources as its subject material.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg as far as how Virtual Sports could spread beyond its initial sporting environs and out into different markets, while still offering the opportunity to bet on events. The more comical and pertinent they are made to the users, perhaps by using famous figures and historical references, then the more likely they are to appeal over the longer term.
It is certainly true to say that the Virtual Sports industry is in its infancy and I think over the years, we will see it grow in many different ways and in some that perhaps sports punters may not expect. But for entertainment purposes alone, that may not necessarily be a bad thing at all.