The world of video gaming is spread out across more high-tech devices than it ever has been before. In some ways this sounds almost counterintuitive; with more cross-platform games, downloads replacing in-store purchases, etc., it can almost feel as if all of our games exist in a tidy, digital space. The truth, however, is that there’s a great deal of choice and competition between different devices and mediums on which to play games.
Current generation consoles and PCs are extraordinary, and yet we’re already beginning to hear about the next Xbox and PlayStation systems around the corner. Smartphones and virtual reality have introduced entire new stores, catalogues, and genres of games. And Nintendo has popularized the handheld system all over again (to the point that we’ve recently seen rumblings of an Alienware-powered handheld device in the works as well).
By and large this is a good situation for gamers. While things may be convoluted and, sometimes, expensive, there are more amazing games than there ever have been, and more incredible ways in which to enjoy them. One question we rarely get to ask, though, is where a brand new type of game might gravitate between these different devices. Usually, new types of games simply emerge organically, and we don’t really notice until after the fact. However, this is a question we actually can explore as it relates to video casino gaming.
Of course, casino gaming is not technically a “brand new type of gaming.” Quite the contrary, in fact! For the U.S. market, however, and particularly for people under a certain age, the idea of widely available, professional-caliber casino games is a foreign one. Such games have been widely banned in the United States until fairly recently, leaving interested gamers with unsatisfying options, such as dull slot machine and poker simulation apps or sketchy offshore gaming sites. Thanks to shifting legislation and early action in New Jersey, however, a better quality of casino video game is slowly becoming more normal (and more available) to U.S. gamers.
The mention of shifting legislation refers to a couple of different 2013 bills that formally legalized iGaming in New Jersey. This in turn has led to a flourishing collection of top online casinos in New Jersey, setting an example for other states to follow. And while digital casino games are still primarily associated with the Garden State some five years later, there are other states that are at least exploring more lenient policies toward real-money gaming. That, plus the fact that New Jersey has made a great deal of money from the industry, suggests a gradual spread of this genre back into U.S. gaming markets.
As these games spread, they will undoubtedly exist first and foremost on websites and apps. These are currently the mediums for casino gaming, and will continue to be as more states embrace the genre. Even so however, existing casino platforms in places like the UK and Canada – which are models for U.S. gaming and in some cases will migrate to the U.S. directly – also tend to embrace cutting-edge change. This is a genre that’s friendly to tech and open to any and all innovations that will attract players. And it’s for that reason that we’re wondering which if any devices may ultimately win out to become a primary means of accessing these games.
This is probably the least likely space for real-money casino games to take off in, though there is some precedent for gambling activity within console games. For instance, the popular adventure title Far Cry 3 had a sort of game-within-a-game based on card games.
More recently, Rockstar Games opened a fairly extensive casino within Grand Theft Auto online, to strong reviews. So, while it’s difficult to imagine entire online casino sites launching their own console-based material, it’s perfectly conceivable that they might essentially sponsor real-money gambling activities within other games, if and when such activity is more widely legalized.
Beyond the Nintendo Switch, it’s hard to predict exactly where modern handheld gaming devices are heading. It seems, however, that their primary appeal will be in making console games portable.
That said, they well also function as alternative devices through which to play online and mobile games, which could certainly include casino options. It’s not a stretch to imagine entire mobile casinos becoming available on some of these devices – though the Switch specifically is unlikely to be involved, with Nintendo unlikely to openly embrace the genre.
This is perhaps the most interesting category, because casino gaming has already crept into the VR space – and not just, as some might expect, through poker tournament simulations. In fact, some of the most popular online slot arcades have made the leap to VR as well, suggesting that there could be a somewhat surprising future for casino-style video games in the virtual arena. This would make for the most significant evolution of the genre, and may in fact be one of the best ways to attract interest from an American audience that’s largely not used to casino gaming.
This genre is on its way to U.S. gamers one way or another. What form it ultimately takes one it arrives though remains anyone’s guess.