For those of us who can’t get enough gaming entertainment, the latest news filtering through about the new Xbox Series X console is undoubtedly exciting, along with the growing list of exclusive games that could feature within the first year of launch.
Consoles & Online Casinos
Given that both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One included internet browsers as part of the built-in software, in both practice and theory, this means that access to online casino gaming is entirely possible. Assuming that the next-generation Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X will again feature internet browsers, gamers will still be able to surf the web and access their favourite online casinos and sports betting sites.
The fact remains that whichever kind of device you’re accessing online casinos from, whether it’s a console, mobile phone or a desktop PC, the sites themselves must be fully licensed to operate and meet stringent regulations in order to operate. Perhaps the most important regulations are those regarding fairness and transparency, ensuring that players know exactly what to expect.
As part of a detailed guide surrounding the fairness of casino games and particularly slots, scams.info provided an overview of the current online situation
regarding gaming regulations. They highlighted how regulatory bodies such as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission apply strict measures of conformity, ensuring that slots and other casino games are thoroughly tested by organisations like eCOGRA or iTechLabs before licences are granted.
It’s the process of testing and licensing which ensures that online slots are fair, while developers must also provide important data and statistics for their games. This includes the return-to-player (RTP) ratio for online slots, which is typically at least 97% at UK online casinos. The RTP is basically an indication of how much a game returns of its total takings, over any given period of time.
“Pay to Win” and “Loot Boxes”
One area of gaming which has courted lots of criticism in recent years are loot boxes. Essentially, these are consumable virtual goods which are redeemed by players for random in-game items. These items can either come in the form of cosmetic enhancements for player characters, or in some games, actually provide players with certain “pay to win” gameplay advantages. Statistically, the biggest number of loot box sales have been achieved for games released on consoles.
While game developers regard the sale of such additional content as an additional way to monetize their games, thereby generating extra revenue from their products, loot boxes were soon regarded as a grey area legally in some countries around the world. The reason being is that because each purchase contains elements of randomness and chance, with no guarantee of something good or useful to the gamer, they’re somewhat like a lucky dip.
According to BBC news coverage
at the time, in 2018 the Belgian Gaming Commission even investigated games like Star Wars Battlefront II, FIFA 18, Overwatch, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive. This led the European country to introduce new laws and regulations for the sale of loot boxes, while some were even banned from sale completely. This meant that mainstream games had to subsequently apply for gaming licenses, just like online casinos and betting sites.
Although some reports were comparing the randomness of loot box prizes as being somewhat like playing slots, in actuality, while the loot boxes weren’t previously being licensed or regulated by official bodies as gambling products, the online slot were. Indeed, online slots were fully legal and legitimate forms of gambling, and players knew exactly what they were paying for. By comparison, the veiled randomness of loot boxes is what courted criticism for their implementation in many AAA gaming titles.
Given that Microsoft have indicated they plan to maintain compatibility between Windows gaming and their upcoming console, the company will most likely include an updated version of their own browser software, which is already in widespread use for their desktop and mobile platforms. This means that accessing online casinos will be no problem at all.
One interesting question regarding the next-generation consoles, which has yet to be answered, is whether the leading casino software developers will produce games or services geared specifically for the Xbox Series X. Often at the very cutting edge of the latest technological and gaming innovations, companies like Microgaming and Playtech are famed for the quality of their online slots.
These developers and online casinos have been heavily focused on mobile gaming in recent years, which has now overtaken desktop casino gaming in terms of popularity and users. While that looks likely to continue being a key area of focus, they are also working towards games which use virtual reality hardware and software, along with other innovative technology trends that are also popular additions to console gaming.
Considering that overall, such hardware accessories are generally less expensive for consoles, it would make sense for casino game
developers to make their products compatible with such console hardware. The size of the potential market alone would certainly make such development worthwhile, given the huge popularity and hype already greeting announcements of the next-generation consoles.
The Waiting Game
In the meantime, it’s perhaps a case of “watch this space” over the coming months, as more news filters through about what features we can expect from the new Xbox Series X console, along with what games we’ll get to enjoy once the new platform is eventually released.
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