“Playtech is developing some of the most advanced technology ever seen in Live Casino, including augmented reality. This allows players to experience products on an entirely new level with never-before-seen content literally leaping out of the game and taking Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and all our other games to an entirely new dimension.”
Anyone who follows the casino industry and Playtech will forgive the software developer for indulging in a bit of hyperbole with the above mission statement, as it has delivered on promises of innovation time and time again.
However, it does raise a question, or rather an opinion, that live dealer games have not yet been the game-changing experience the online casino industry had hoped for. That’s not to say they haven’t had a big impact; of course, they have. Nor is it meant to cheapen the accomplishment of live dealer technology. In fact, if anything, advancements in areas like console technology have been underappreciated.
Virtual Games Still Attract
Indeed, today if you want to play online roulette in Canada, blackjack in the UK, poker in Australia or anywhere else, we are spoilt for choice. Nearly all top casinos have live dealer tables, and there will always be an attraction to fascinating games like Perfect Blackjack online with real dealers. They are really popular and a great option if you want to play a real classic casino game. Yet, it feels like we are on the cusp of seeing these games take off to offer something completely revolutionary.
And that is key to that commentary here. While live dealer games have been an incredible innovation, it feels like we are waiting for Playtech, NetEnt, Evolution or another developer to bring something out that will act as a tipping point, making the immersive experience the ‘only’ desirable choice for online players.
Of course, there have been some instances when the industry thought we could see a game-changer: Playtech’s live version of Age of the Gods Roulette should have been given more attention; Evolution’s Monopoly Live also (deservedly) seems to be generating a lot of buzz. But, as for “content leaping out of the game” and being in “an entirely” new dimension, it seems we have a way to go.
Interaction With Others Is Key
For some, the most important aspect is not the visuals but the interactivity with the croupiers and, indeed, other players. One avenue that could be explored more is the idea of community, which has been explored (tentatively) with Evolution’s Live Football Studio and NetEnt’s Sports Betting Widget.
The idea of the former is to put emphasis on the sports chat, with the dealer tasked to discuss ongoing matches. The latter, a betting widget that was rolled out for a trial at the 2018 World Cup, is a bit more interesting, with the dealer able to place sports bets simultaneously as the player plays table games.
Perhaps to move towards that ‘eureka!’ moment, developers will have to combine several of these factors. For all the talk of a ground-breaking moment around NetEnt’s widget, it was still pretty limited, and it’s not clear what sort of permanency it will have in the future. But creating multi-faceted platforms is certainly a means to moving live dealers to the next level.
Indeed, all of this should sound optimistic rather than pessimistic. It feels like all the ingredients are there for some truly revolutionary live dealer games; it’s just about using the ingredients in the right order. Playtech, NetEnt or someone else will soon catch lightning in a bottle, and the online casino industry will never be the same again.