Growth of Online Gaming

Online games.

Gaming has experienced one of the most impressive periods of growth in recent years, becoming the force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. Some speculators suggest gaming is now worth more than the movie and music industries combined. Part of the success is due to unprecedented access to the internet and a growing demand for online titles.

What is online gaming?

Online games are played partly or entirely on the internet. They include multiplayer games where your opponents are other players located anywhere in the world; They can be single-player games that access some shared environment – Nintendo’s Animal Crossing is a good example.

What are the genres of online gaming?

The definition of what can be considered an online game has blurred since there are many titles, even entire gaming systems, that require a constant internet connection to run. Therefore, the genres of online games are numerous:

1. MMO

Massively Multiplayer Online games date back to the early 90s and are some of the flag bearers of the category. MMOs are games with hundreds, sometimes thousands of players on the same server and include classics like World of Warcraft and Runescape. Modern examples are Elder Scrolls Online and Star Citizen.

2. FPS

First Person Shooters put the player in control of an arsenal of weapons facing off against other players or AI-controlled enemies. Third Person Shooters (TPS) also exist with an over-the-shoulder perspective and the player's character in view, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds being a good example.

3. Table Games

Digital iterations of physical board games have become increasingly popular – Magic: The Gathering Online, Monopoly, and Chess. Casino games also fall under the same category: roulette and slots have a new fanbase as classic card games. You can now play online poker from any device with an internet connection.

4. Casual Games

Epitomized by many mobile games with mass appeal, free or very low purchase prices, and short game times, casual consumers who play online games like Clash of Clans have made gamers of millions of adults that otherwise wouldn't have been. With the rise of Online games, there have also been the emergent top keyboards and mouse for PS4, which are meant to give players an immersive experience.

A boy playing an online game with his family.

5. Browser Games

Popularized by Flash games of the early 2000s, browser games were some of the first casual games available directly through your computer’s browser using Adobe’s Flash multimedia player.

Many of the most popular titles became successful mobile games, too: think Bloons, Hollow Knight, and Bejeweled.  

What has caused the growth of online gaming?

Long gone are the days of 56k dial-up internet where images would load incrementally and live videos were just a pipe dream. Nowadays, lightning-fast fiber-optic wired connections are increasingly rolled out across the developed world, making high-quality movie streaming and gaming a part of everyday life.

5G mobile networks achieve 20 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) peak data rates, which are sufficient to handle even the most cutting-edge online mobile gaming demands. Combine this with current hardware advancements, and you have the perfect circumstances for an online games market to thrive.

Top-end mobile smart devices now contain processors that exceed the speeds of even high-end gaming consoles of the current generation. Software developers are keen to utilize every available cycle of that power.

As the industry continues to become more and more profitable, it will only attract another talent to develop the next line of hit gaming titles to compete with other studios as the entertainment industry sectors battle for superiority to gain viewers who watch online streaming.

You need to log in to any app store to see the thousands of programs available from every conceivable genre and category.

Convenience is often a deciding factor in the choices today's consumers make. They have become accustomed to an on-demand lifestyle where most things are available at the touch of a button, and online games fit this model well.

Video streaming services like Netflix deliver a choice of hundreds of movies and TV shows instantaneously to the homes of its members, and Amazon Prime promises next-day delivery from a catalogue of thousands of products.

Consumers can now use cloud platforms, which many speculate is the future of video games, offering subscribers a library of titles streamed from the provider's central servers.

Very little data storage is required, and in some cases, much of the processing takes place remotely, potentially saving the consumer from needing to buy expensive hardware.

For the truly hardcore gamers, the technology is not yet polished enough, with some users complaining of lag times which in a competitive scenario is inadequate. Still, once the wrinkles have been ironed out, we could see more people adopting services of this kind.

PS (online) game pad.

The way in which games are marketed is also changing. Thousands tune in to video game live streaming platform Twitch daily to see their favourite creators play new and interesting titles.

Among Us is an online social deduction game that became hugely popular thanks partly to Twitch and YouTube streamers showcasing it. Fall Guys is another example of a game that found similar success.

From the world of esports to casual mobile games, online gaming has gone from a fringe interest of only a few enthusiasts to having mass global appeal – and with the onset of developments like the Metaverse, all signs suggest its growth is only going to continue.