Insight: A new take on ‘reality’ by Winistry founder

Insight: A new take on ‘reality’ by Winistry founder

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 Totally Gaming
Gerard Cunningham said that VR has a future on mobile, console and PC

When it comes to technology and gaming, Gerard Cunningham tells it like it is.

The chief executive of Silicon Valley-based virtual reality (VR) developer Winistry, who founded Betfair USA and Koolbit, will be one of the key speakers at ICE’s Cross-Platform and Multi-Channel Gaming conference, and he is keen to get straight to the point.

Mobile is king, he will tell attendees, to which they will undoubtedly all agree. There may be less unanimity when he explains why the iWatch “will not break out as a game platform”. As for tomorrow, he believes that virtual reality (VR) “is the next platform for game makers and game players”.

Cunningham told TotallyGaming.com that technological advances, the will of the corporate superpowers and cultural events will contrive to bring VR and augmented reality (AR) to the mainstream, and gambling must be prepared to embrace the change.

“Digi-Capital is forecasting a $150bn (€137.6bn) global market for VR plus AR in 2020,” said Cunningham, whose ICE session is entitled ‘New devices that will transform how the industry bets – what is the next big jump?’.

“This massive market opportunity is driven by the push from the major internet and entertainment companies and the pull from consumers and businesses around the world.

“Every major internet company is investing in the VR and AR space, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung. Their investment will bring products to market with ever-decreasing cost and continually improving performance.

“Adoption of VR is going to be driven by cultural events, for example a music concert in which we can experience being on stage beside U2 or Katy Perry, or a sports event which places us at the finish line of the 100m at the Olympics.”

Cunningham launched Winistry in 2015 “to delight players with new, fully immersive, exciting VR games” and told TotallyGaming that the company’s first casino game is set to be released during the first half of 2016, to tie in with the launch of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR.

As well as VR, he said that Winistry is “keeping a close eye” on AR, through which a game is projected into the world around the player, or onto a tabletop in front of the player.

Cunningham is enthusiastic about the possibilities offered to the gaming industry by new technology, and gave an insight into one example of what could one day be a typical VR gambling experience. 

“In the casino genre, we can place players into a copy of any real casino in the world, or into an imaginary casino in outer space,” he added. “We can let players collaborate or compete with their friends, famous movie stars, or avatars of the world’s best poker players, and create 3D games with huge scale or unique physics, which are not possible in the real world.”

Cunningham here gives his views on the future of VR platforms:

Mobile VR

“Mobile VR, in which a smartphone is used as the screen and processor for use in a cheap, portable headset, will be the mass market product. Ericsson forecasts there will be six billion smartphone users in 2020. Given that Mobile VR headsets cost between $5 and $100, three quarters of the world’s population will shortly have access to low cost, mobile VR. It is very early in the Mobile VR market. We have had only one year of Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR headsets and they have been available in low quantities.”

Console VR

“Sony will launch the Playstation VR in the first half of 2016, and it will be compatible with the more than 30 million PS4s in the market. Experiences will be higher quality than Mobile VR due to the more powerful processors.”

PC VR

“On the PC side, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive will offer the highest quality VR experiences in the first half of 2016. This may require a significant investment because many players will need to buy a higher-powered PC to use these powerful VR headsets. The quality should be good enough to put into an arcade.”

* ICE Totally Gaming takes place at London's ExCel Centre from February 2-4. For updates on ICE 2016 and to register for tickets, visit: www.icetotallygaming.com

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