Insight

Malta-licensed gaming company develops virtual reality game

Malta-licensed SlotsMillion has launched a virtual reality casino for Oculus devices. Alexandre Tomic, co-founder of SlotsMillion and its parent company Alea Gaming, tells us about the challenges and opportunities for VR.

What are the key features of your VR casino and how did you develop it?

The VR application of SlotsMillion works with the Oculus Rift headset, but players can also enjoy the games without the goggles – just in 3D. We developed it in partnership with Lucky VR, a company that creates virtual reality experiences and specialises in casino gaming content. It is a multi-player application, developed in Unity. It gives users the feeling of being in an imaginary casino based in a skyscraper. The virtual environment features an especially large slot gaming screen to offer players the most immersive slots experience possible, with 3D graphics bursting out of the screen when they win big, as well as the ability to interact with other gamblers. Users can play a range of games already offered on the standard SlotsMillion site. Basically, we integrated all the slots from our traditional site, such as the games from Microgaming, Playtech and Netent, into this environment. This integration was actually the biggest challenge.

Did you encounter any issues from a regulatory point of view?

Not really. We prepared a user manual and invited the Malta Gaming Authority to our office to test the VR application. The MGA does have a bit of a reputation of being a conservative institution but we were really surprised by their openness. They only asked us to make minor tweaks to the product. For instance, we had to introduce a clock that shows exactly how long a user has been playing and this has to be visible on the screen all the time. We initially envisioned the character to turn his wrist and check his watch.

With VR technology still in infancy, what were the key drivers for your decision to invest in a VR casino?

A year ago, we saw this company called Digital Cybercherries. They developed a beautiful arcade room, where you could play Nintendo games from the 80s, the likes of Donkey Kong. When we saw it, we thought that it would be great if we could replace all these games with slots. When we found out that it was possible, we didn’t think twice. It is true that VR technology is not yet a consumer product, so we are well ahead of developments in this sector. The Oculus Rift headset will be released in the first quarter of 2016, but we have to wait at least two to three years before mass-adoption occurs and we have a real market. But we believe in innovation and are definitely product-driven, rather than market-driven. I also believe that VR provides a bridge between social players and real money players and while it will take a few years for VR to really take off, the time for operators to get involved is now. 

Do you fear that technology developments might render your product irrelevant before it reaches critical mass?

Well, just before the launch, we had to redevelop our product twice because of technology advancements. Going forward, we have to be very careful not to develop things that will be completely useless within a short period of time. We need to monitor market developments, but at the same time, I believe that development teams have to be able to develop new products without any interference – this is the only way to come up with new products that could potentially be the next big thing. In fact, we are now looking at introducing a new VR product: social poker.

SlotsMillion is owned by parent company Alea Gaming

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