International edition
September 30, 2020

Exclusive interview with Neill Whyte, Head of Product Channels, Microgaming

“Virtual reality revolutionizes the way players interact with games”

“Virtual reality revolutionizes the way players interact with games”
Neill Whyte talks about Microgaming's ultra-futuristic CRYO lab, which has created a big buzz in the industry since being unveiled at the ICE in London and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
United Kingdom | 03/03/2016

Neill Whyte talks about Microgaming's ultra-futuristic CRYO lab, which has created a big buzz in the industry since being unveiled at the ICE in London and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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hat is Microgaming's ultra-futuristic CRYO lab all about and what was the reaction to this revolutionary concept from ICE attendees?

Made specially for the event, our CRYO lab gave ICE attendees the opportunity to experience VR Roulette, our award-winning prototype that uses the Oculus Rift DK 2 headset with Leap Motion 3D Controller to track a player’s hand movements and then project them into the 3D world. Outside of the CRYO lab, we also showcased our AR markers, which demonstrate how characters can be brought to life using 3D technology.

Feedback at the event, and following, has been very positive. The experience created a real buzz at the show, and we feel that people were left excited about the future of our industry and how disruptive technologies could positively change the way games are played.

"In terms of virtual reality, research suggests that in the UK, consumers aged 16 to 34 show the strongest interest in wearables (Mintel, Wearable Technology UK 2015)"

What is your role in pioneering the future of online gaming? Where else can we see this level of innovation?

We are a technology company, and with technology advancing at an incredible rate, opportunity beckons. We have a dedicated research and development team who look 3-5 years into the future and predict what technologies could shape our industry. They’ve been looking at augmented reality for seven years, and virtual reality for some time now. That’s how VR Roulette came about. By offering a fully immersive experience, virtual reality could revolutionize the way players interact with games.

Predicting the future and preparing for what could be around the corner is very important in our industry - it’s what keeps us ahead of the competition. We were the first to develop online casino software back in 1994, and we released the first mobile casino software back in 2004. Our early start in mobile means we now supply the leading portfolio of mobile games in the industry, supporting over 350 HTML5 and native app titles across more than 3,000 devices.

Innovation is probably a term used too freely. But with increasingly complex technologies and bigger opportunities on the horizon, we can expect it to be used even more often. The mobile industry is a prime example. We recently exhibited at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona alongside 2,200 global companies – now that was a leading stage for innovation! But innovation isn’t limited to IT and telecommunications: the automotive and pharmaceutical industries are two other great examples.

How would you describe the player of the future? Did you take millennials into consideration when designing the CRYO lab?

We know that players aren’t sticking to one device or platform when consuming our products; in addition, players are becoming savvier. Expectations are higher than ever before, and it’s our job as a software developer to meet these expectations and entertain and engage our operators’ players.

Studying player behaviour is imperative for us and our operators. Millennials are definitely an important player segment to look at. This generation certainly has higher expectations when it comes to gaming entertainment. What’s also clear is that millennials, born into the internet age, are a generation of tech-minded people and that’s exciting for our technology-driven industry. Take mobile, for example. It is estimated that 91% of all UK millennials own a smartphone (Global Mobile Report, 2015) – it’s therefore highly likely that this group is contributing significantly to the explosion of mobile gaming. In terms of virtual reality, research suggests that in the UK, consumers aged 16 to 34 show the strongest interest in wearables (Mintel, Wearable Technology UK 2015).

The CRYO lab at ICE was designed to show attendees and the wider industry, irrespective of their age or profession, a glimpse into the future of gaming. It created a buzz among our operators, media and even our competitors - not just the millennial generation.

Where will we be seeing the CRYO lab?

Following ICE, we presented our CRYO lab at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Virtual reality stole the show, so demoing VR Roulette on our stand was fitting. During the 4-day event, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t go unnoticed, with the photo of him entering the Samsung press event going viral. Having acquired Oculus for $2 billion a few years ago, he was quick to call VR the platform of the future: “VR is the next platform, where anyone can create and experience anything they want.”

VR roulette is just one example of how we are looking to the future and embracing disruptive technologies. Our R&D team has come up with several other exciting concepts and products that we believe can make a massive impact on our industry. You might not see the CRYO lab in its exact form again, but you’ll definitely be hearing (and seeing) more of our pioneering work in the future.

What are your business plans for the future?

We’ll continue to innovate and prepare for what lies ahead in our industry. We pride ourselves on being first to market and one step ahead of our competitors. Thanks to an exceptional talent pool of more than 2,000 individuals, I believe we’ll continue to shine.

We are very excited about what 2016 has in store for us, and we couldn’t have got the year off to a better start than at ICE, announcing several key signings, including Grosvenor Casinos for Quickfire and the MPN, as well as PKR for Microgaming Poker and Casino. And of course we were honoured to win Innovator of the Year at the International Gaming Awards the day before ICE.

Whatever the future holds, we’re heading into it with our minds wide open.

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