The Rise of Virtual Sports: Why Betting is Now a Game

The video gaming world has always been a virtual affair. From Pac-Man setting a trend back in the 80s, to today’s hits like Call of Duty and Fortnite, the biggest titles have always been an animated affair. The same can be said of online casino gaming. Although live dealer tables have crept into the mix in recent years, sites across the industry are still dominated by virtual games.

While it might seem obvious that animations are the dominate force in all areas of the gaming world, it actually goes against the zeitgeist. Take, for instance, the movie industry. CGI has been honed to the point where digital backdrops are now indistinguishable from real life. The same is true for home assistants and messaging systems. Through the power of artificial intelligence (AI), responses and predictive text have become more responsive, more accurate and, ultimately, more realistic.

Tech’s Drive for Realism Hasn’t Changed the Game

The point we’re making is that technology in almost every facet of life has been driving towards greater realism. Put simply, we want technology to be more like us so that it can slip seamlessly into our lives and, in turn, become more useful. However, this isn’t always the case and the gaming industry is a prime example of that. Although certain games do look more realistic, everything you see has still been drawn and developed by a team of designers. Indeed, because games are still seen as a form of escapism, it’s as though we want things to look slightly fantastical so we can take a break from reality.

Interestingly, this trend is now seeping into the sports betting industry. As we’ve said, casino gaming started out as a virtual affair, but its sister product, sports betting, has always been based on real life. For the outsiders, that seems obvious. Sporting contests are live events, which means anyone offering odds must focus on what’s happening in the real world. That’s the way it’s always been but, as we’re now seeing, it’s not the way it always will be.

For example, when you scroll through the reviews on comparison site Playright, you’ll see that mentions of virtual sports are becoming more frequent. In among the bonus breakdowns, software overviews and star ratings, the site’s experts are spending more time looking at the rise of virtual sports. As for the betting sites themselves, their lobbies are gradually being filled up with more computerized contests. Although live sports still dominate, you can now find virtual versions of everything from horse racing, football and cycling and to F1.

Demand, Cohesion and Break from Life Have Led to Virtual Sports

If we accept that online sports betting is transitioning from live to virtual endeavor, the obvious question is why? Demand would be the simple answer. We live in a world where everyone wants everything at the click of a button. With Netflix we’ve got the ability to watch movies whenever we want. Similarly, catch-up services allow us to play TV shows at your leisure. Gamers and sports bettors now expect the same service.

Steam has made it possible to download content whenever they live and virtual sports are starting to make betting a 24/7 activity. When live races and football matches have all but finished for the day, virtual sports are there to fill in the gaps. In tandem with this desire for unlimited action, virtual sports have become popular due to the convergence of the gaming industry. Betting operators once kept their three main verticals – poker, casino and sports betting – separate. However, due to market forces and a general push for greater cohesion, things are now more homogenous.

A New Type of Game

In other words, casino players use the same platform as poker players and sports bettors. Because of this, new ideas have come to the fore. Virtual sports betting is one such idea as it essentially takes the fundamentals of sports betting and turns them into a game (i.e. a casino game). For operators, this allows for more crossovers as it provides an easy way for casino players to slip into sports betting and vice versa.

Therefore, from a business standpoint, it’s clear to see why betting brands are now hot on virtual sports. However, what’s more interesting for us is how other industries are starting to embrace the ideals that have made video gaming a $100 billion+ industry. Even with everything around it pushing for greater realism, game developers have stuck to their virtual guns. Why? Because video games are meant to be a break from real life. Betting companies have clearly been inspired by this and that’s why the sports game is changing.

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