In 1972 when Atari first invented the game of Pong little did world realized that one-day virtual sports will become a dominant force. Based on table tennis, Pong was the beginning of sports in a whole new realm.
If you are a real sports bettor, you must have lost a few bets on the game of pong which is one of the many virtual games that decided the fate of empires in bars around the world.
Before the pandemic of 2020 shook the world, virtual sports were not the starters for any of the online sports betting sites. But as the sports leagues globally started cancelling, it didn’t take much time for the sportsbooks to start following virtual sporting leagues.
These games as the names suggests can be played at home on PC. Virtual sports have been the source of revenue for game console developers for decades.
Growing up you must have played ping pong, soccer or baseball with your friends and now you might have moved on to more sophisticated esports like DOTA and League of Legends.
Virtual sports betting is on the rise as more and more sportsbooks are incorporating them into their portfolios but there is a certain emotional attachment with these games for some players.
Whether you are new to esports or share a nostalgic past with them, here are some of the surprising facts about virtual sports you might not know.
1. Africa is one of the biggest markets for virtual sports
Virtual sports markets do not often draw impression from the African continent. We naturally assume that Asia and the Americas will be the biggest hotspots for virtual games, but interesting Africa is also a huge market.
Look at the numbers:
- Africa is home to over 1.29 billion people
- Over 500 million people in Africa have Internet access
- Over 200 million Africans are Facebook users
- Nigeria has over 200 million people
- Over half of Nigerians have internet access
- Africa has 54 internationally recognized countries
- Some of the world’s leading universities are in Africa
For virtual sports betting, Africa is a big business opportunity. This is why when you bet on virtual sports there is a high probability that you are wagering against an African enthusiast.
Do not be under impression that the African internet users are the scammers who send phishing emails and lottery scams to gullible westerners, there’s a whole different online world in Africa.
2. Most virtual sports are old
You will be surprised to know that popular brands like Playstation and Activision are not at the top of the virtual sports industry.
The dominant player in the online virtual sporting space for casinos is the Kiron Interactive. Launched in 2001, it is one of the largest providers of games for online betting.
Just like Kiron, GammaStack, nSoft and GlobalBet are the leaders in virtual sports. Mainstream game developers like Playtech, also offer virtual sports.
Writing for eSports Reporter and EGR Virtual Sports in 2018 in an article Kiron Interactive co-founder Steven Spartinos pointed out that the virtual sports is already accounting for about one-fifth of the revenue of sportsbooks globally.
Virtual sports is a small industry which is why it depends on percentage and growth to get the legitimacy it requires. Just like esports, virtual sports is becoming the only source of games on the internet as most actual sports is being postponed.
Currently, if you want to bet on sports, then you have to be a part of the virtual sports industry.
3. Virtual sports and esports are not the same
It is the most common mistake we see people make. Esports and virtual sports are very different.
In esports, there is always a human player behind the avatars. This leaves scope for human errors, maybe the player might react too slow or too fast and develop certain gaming habits that will impact the play and also the esports betting results.
On the other hand, in virtual sports betting everything is simulated by a computer.
There might be few virtual mistakes added by the game developers but for the most part, the programs are already calculating a lot of variables to decide the flow of each play. All the unexpected mishaps occurring might be nothing more than just random timing.
What does it mean for you as a bettor?
Should you care about the automation in virtual sports?
Will you care more if you won or lost a live bet rather than betting on virtual sports?
We cannot answer. Whether you choose to participate in virtual sports betting or not depends entirely on how comfortable you are with the industry.
4. All viewers watch the same games
It is a common confusion that the stats of the virtual games might be inconsistent but bettors are not uploading the game stats from their home computers. Any virtual sport that you see online is only played once and everyone watches the same as it is streamed live.
The only difference between real sports and virtual sports is that instead of human athletes, computers play these games.
Virtual sports betting is interesting as developers include a lot of details in these games. You can see players reacting to failed or successful plays, camera operators, officials running across the field and the crowd. There are commentators and some of the virtual games also include replays on close calls.
For virtual sports, the incorporation of realism is very important. With the improvement of the computing technology along with gaming platforms, bettors and gamers both want to experience the best quality.
As punters look at the same game when betting, the streaming services are able to devote more resources to improve the experience with excellent animations.
5. Teams license is a thing in virtual sports
When playing virtual sports or betting against one, you might wonder why some of the teams have their actual names while others don’t. This is because some of the teams are very sensitive about their names and have solid trademark policies.
It’s all about branding relationships. Virtual sports technology companies are good at teaming up with players and franchisees to use their names.
There are so many virtual sports that enthusiasts can have a new game to bet on every week. Such a vast range keeps things interesting.
6. Virtual sports are not similar to online slot games
Virtual sports rely heavily on random number generators. However, it will be no fun if you do not have a chance at picking a good team in any match. Bettors must win to keep away the frustration.
You will find some writers claiming that these games are just like slot games because they make use of some random number generators. However, the truth is slightly different.
Every virtual sports vendor adds some strengths and weaknesses to their games. This is why a team’s performance is thus dependent on these pre-selected factors as well as the random numbers generated by the RNG. The outcome of the team play is not similar to slot games.
Another question often asked by enthusiasts is whether the virtual sports teams use the same statistics as their real-world counterparts or just random. Interestingly, this is the decision that every vendor has to make on its own.
The approaches have their pros and cons and it is important to know that the virtual sports league is not similar to a fantasy sports league in any manner.
Even if the vendors use the real-world stats of athletes to seed their virtual players, in games the abilities of the players change over time. This is why the variables calculating a virtual athlete’s moves and play change over time.
This is why bettors must not read too much into a team’s or athlete’s stats for virtual sports betting. Just as the performance of a team or athlete changes in real-world, the same happens in virtual sports as well.
7. Virtual sports betting differs a lot from live sports betting
Most online sportsbooks work in a similar fashion, with minuscule changes made to the interface as requested by the casinos to add a sense of brand identity. When major vendors land a client, they are asked to make changes so that the virtual sports can be integrated into the existing platforms of the casinos.
Another important aspect is that virtual sports have to comply with the gambling game regulations as they are simulated games.
This simple regulation requirement contributes to the widespread assumption that virtual sports are a lot like slot games. This is why it is believed that virtual sports betting is not as fair as live events betting.
But virtual sports betting offers a lot more options than live sports betting. If you are frustrated not being able to make all kinds of bets on live games then you will be entertained by the range virtual sports industry has to offer.
A major difference between betting on virtual sports and live sports betting is how much research you can do on live teams and athletes.
Although vendors try to consistently keep their virtual games as close as possible the real-world sports, gamblers won’t be able to research individual players or teams for virtual sports as they do with sports betting.
Another distinction for real sports is the chaotic moments and randomness of the events. Although virtual sports have minor random events, they cannot match the actual action which is why virtual sports is less spectacular.
But the inability to conduct the research is not particularly a weakness for virtual sports as it gives people new to the domain equal chance of winning as other punters.
For seasoned bettors, this might look like a major weakness as they are habituated to depend their gambling decisions on proper research. But for novices, this means they do not need to learn a lot about virtual sports before they can start placing bets. All they need to know is how the virtual sporting systems work.
Maybe in future, we might see virtual sports software that can create players whose performance evolves over time consistently, till then we are stuck with the randomness.
With pandemic causing an abrupt break for sports, this might be an unexpected advantage for virtual sports to reach more bettors.
It is still early to say whether virtual sports betting will find its place fully at most sportsbooks, but without a doubt, these games have got increased popularity overnight.
Gamblers want some action sitting at home and virtual sports are offering them a huge range.
We recommend that you keep an open mind about virtual sports. If you have landed on this post, then you are already investigating virtual sports betting, go ahead and try, it is a lot more than sharing a game console with your friends.