Online gaming is such an integral part of modern-day home entertainment. Nowadays, it’s easy to take all the virtual and real-time gaming options that we have for granted, but even just a decade ago, many of these options wouldn’t have existed.
The gaming industry is still relatively young when compared to other popular forms of consumer entertainment, such as watching TV or listening to recorded music. Although the first video game prototypes were put together by scientists in the late 1950s, it would be three decades later before video games and consoles fully hit the mainstream.
Since the 1980s, gaming has progressed at an astonishing rate – although that’s perhaps unsurprising for a tech industry that has always been at the forefront of innovation.
Connecting with digital games in 2021 is as simple as tapping an app on your smartphone, hitting the login button of an online platform, or opening up a new tab in your browser window. Things haven’t always been so seamless, however.
Let’s look at some of the key developments since the 1990s that have contributed to the astonishing rise of online gaming.
The Internet Ignites the Online Gaming Spark
During the 1990s, playing games online became a reality thanks to the increasing penetration of the internet. Being able to access the World Wide Web changed the game for video game players right across the globe. Within just a few years they could connect on networks like AOL and compete against each other in online multi-players.
This was also the decade in which another popular online gaming segment, online poker, first became properly accessible online. Online poker platforms have come a long way since their early days.
In 2021, they also act as resource hubs for gamers, providing tutorials on essentials such as how to play texas holdem as well as an array of games and tournaments. However, three decades ago, even those bare-bones platforms were revolutionary for the time.
Levelling-Up in the Noughties
During the early years of the new Millenium, online gaming changed forever. In 2003, the Valve gaming corporation launched Steam, a first-of-its-kind digital storefront that enabled gamers to both purchase and review games online.
Then, just one year later, World of Warcraft was born. This pioneering Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game grew so popular that it soon pulled in over 10 million active subscriptions from gamers all over the world.
Until the mid-noughties, only PC gamers were able to take advantage of online platforms and connectivity. However, seeing how lucrative this new online market was becoming, console manufacturers Microsoft and Sony soon got involved.
Microsoft launched Xbox Live on the Xbox system in November 2002, but it took rivals Sony four more years to perfect the PlayStation Network, which kicked into life in November 2006.
Going Mobile and Beyond
Over the next decade, gaming would go mobile and beyond as engaging mobile gaming experiences were developed in parallel with increasingly advanced smartphone technology.
As if that wasn’t future-focused enough, the tail end of the 2010s also saw gaming take to the cloud, as entertainment giants Google released Stadia, its cloud gaming service that enables gamers anywhere to play video games without needing a console.
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