Casino games: an area of untapped potential for PlayStation game developers?

It can’t have escaped many people’s attentions that online casinos have emerged from a standing start around 20 years ago to become hugely popular in many parts of the world. From their regular appearance in TV adverts to their abundance in the world of football sponsorship, they’re a phenomenon gamers find impossible to ignore.

While the very first online casinos in the early days were just as two-dimension and slow-paced as simple video games, they’ve evolved to a seriously remarkable level – with quick speeds and high-quality graphics. Today, online gambling operators invest millions of pounds each year to make their games ever more engaging and immersive – and the result is that many of them now rival leading consumer titles.

Online gambling is also one of the most popular ways to play casino games. This is particularly the case in the UK, where remote gambling raised an incredible £5.4 billion in revenue between March 2016 and April 2017 – making it the largest single sector in the gambling economy. Worldwide, the figure is more impressive. Latest forecasts have shown the industry will be worth close to $60 billion by 2020.

Unsurprisingly, this big business has attracted some very big players with the leading casino operators – including developers of PlayStation games. Here we look at the current state of play for casino games on the PlayStation, and speculate whether PlayStation could do more to improve the gambling experience on its platform.

Gambling in PlayStation games

There’s been a certain level of crossover between online casinos and video games. For example, developers of PS4 games re-created the gambling experience in the context of other stories, with casino scenes included as part of the overall action.

For real gaming nerds, this goes right back to a popular, if hardly lamented, game from the 1980s called Leisure Suit Larry (in the land of the lounge lizards). In this our “hero” made regular trips to the casino to play blackjack in an attempt to replenish his dwindling finances.

Bringing this right up to date, the recent Red Dead Redemption also includes no less than seven different ways to gamble or play for money – including poker, horseshoes and even arm wrestling.

Casino games available on the PS4

Of course there are plenty of PS4 games where casino action is central to the story, if not forming the whole narrative itself. These range from ones like the highly rated Pure Hold’em which, as the name suggests, concentrates on a high stakes poker tournament, to games like The Four Kings Casino and Slots.

The latter gives you the chance to compete not just across the green baize of the poker tournament table, but in the whole range of casino games – from roulette to blackjack and from poker to slots.

Many of these games are very highly rated and there’s a very good argument to suggest that the actual player experience that they provide is much more captivating than it is at physical land-based casinos.

This is hardly surprising when one considers the thousands and thousands of hours that go into creating games, never better exemplified than by the already mentioned Red Dead Redemption, the developers of which reportedly had to work 100 hour weeks to complete it on time. As anyone who’s played the game will testify, the results of this Herculean effort are all there to witness on screen with a complex and multi-faceted narrative, spellbinding graphics and the minutest attention to detail in every respect.

Online casino games are just as true to life – literally in some cases. Live Casino is the pinnacle of virtual gambling technology, as it links players with real-life dealers via a high-quality audio and video link. This effectively replicates an authentic casino experience, making players feel truly involved in the gameplay – even if they’re just playing along in their own living room.

Live casino is where the gambling games on PS4 differs from the quality available online, so clearly it has a huge amount of room for improvement.

How PS4 gambling games could improve 

Currently, there’s much more choice in casino games online than on the PS4. While live casino is one glaring omission from the PS4’s selection of games, so are some of the most popular casino games themselves. Sure, there’s a focus on poker – with leading PS4 titles including Pure Hold’em and Prominence Poker – but there’s not much regard for the likes of slots, blackjack and roulette, if any.

To take the latter example, there are many different ways to play roulette at an online casino. Powered by a random number generator, online roulette accurately captures all the excitement and uncertainty of this ultimate casino game. You can really see the roll of the roulette ball as it glides around the wheel and lands on red or black.

As a classic casino game, you can even play roulette at a retro-looking casino. Chequered flooring and a Wurlitzer soundtrack, reminiscent of Sin City in its 1960s heyday, welcomes players of online roulette at 777 casino. We thoroughly recommend you visit for a unique gambling experience you just can’t find on the PS4.

Theming games around key moments in history is popular in other PS4 games such as Call of Duty – so it’s easy to imagine this retro theme working on the PS4 platform. However, choice is currently lacking, and PlayStation has a long way to go to catch up with the advancements made online in mobile and PC gambling games.

Looking ahead – what’s next for gambling on the PS4?

Of course, to turn the enjoyment level truly up to eleven and beyond, the addition of virtual reality would surely do the trick. Then players really would be able to experience all the glamour and excitement of casinos – real and imagined – as well as being able to play on every game imaginable, all in glorious 3D. PlayStation VR is very highly rated – so it’s clearly capable of delivering this type of immersive gambling experience. In fact, it could pioneer it – and be guaranteed an audience.

But while what we’ve been talking about so far has focused very much on the thrills and experience of casino-based PS4 games, there is one essential element that all lack – namely, the chance to win actual money. So, for all the realism that the games might provide, until they can be linked to online payments they may not appeal to all online gamblers who are just in it for the money.

Whether PS4 games developers are going to take up the challenge and start producing casino-based games is still very much open to debate. But, as we’ve seen, there are many reasons why they should.

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