Virtual Sports: in the saddle

Let’s be clear: ‘virtuals’ aren’t a new concept; they’ve been around since the dawn of time both as streamed and on-demand products. Indeed, several companies in the space have successfully built almost entire business models around the genre. Yet although the streamed service has continued to see investment and improvement over the years, the online on demand sector has been largely forgotten, until now.

The benchmark for the player experience is almost universally accepted as being the streamed service offered by the Inspired Gaming Group. By streamed service I mean the method of rendering huge libraries of results out in advance of display and then delivering these results via a schedule (every 25 seconds on mobile) to the player. Although this delivery has primarily existed in the offline world of the bookmakers, the relentless progress being made in device technology and data transfer speeds now means that this solution is becoming ever more viable in the online space.

There is however a problem with this approach in that although the playout is incredibly realistic, rivalling almost cinematic quality, the approach to the delivery has remained unchanged and is still streamed, meaning there is no possibility of interactivity with the player kept as a passive observer and only a limited number of playouts per day.

Has the industry been missing a trick here? Almost certainly. It’s long been a driving factor at CORE Gaming to look to technology to enhance the user experience, rather than simply replicate an existing one. WebGL is one such technology that’s been around for a while now (since 2011 in fact) but has remained largely ignored by developers due perhaps to a lack of product suitability and the industry as a whole still getting to grips with the sinking ship that is Flash and the saviour that is proving to be HTML5.

So what is WebGL and how can we use it to rival and even exceed the streamed services being offered? WebGL is essentially an API for rendering 3D (and 2D) graphics via any compatible browser without the need for plugins. It utilises the GPU of any device to accelerate the performance of physics, image and effects. What this means is that we can not only deliver a rich 3D experience to the user in real time but by the very fact that this experience is being generated on the fly, it can become truly interactive and entirely on demand.

Imagine being able to watch a horse race not only from the side lines but also from the point of view of the jockey, all via a single lightweight delivery. Take this a step further by harnessing further aspects of device hardware and allow the player to look around their virtual world and watch the horse behind closing in, the player can for the first time truly feel a part of the action. Consider adding weather conditions, geo location and time of day specific to the player, again all on the fly without the need for additional testing or deployment and you start to realise the power of what’s being offered. This unparalleled level of customisation is simply not possible via the streamed services but all of this is not only possible, it’s in the pipeline for delivery!