Looking Back at a Decade of Online Gaming
The past ten years have seen some profound changes to the way that media and entertainment are produced, promoted, and consumed. While commentators have written treatises on the effect of modern streaming services on the TV and movie industry, fewer column inches have been devoted to the one sector that has seen the biggest changes: online gaming. Here we take a look at some of the biggest trends of the past ten years.
The pundits really missed the mark on this one, and nobody predicted how incredibly popular mobile games would become. It seems that media experts couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the potential of the small screen. Our mobiles have become multi-functional items, and entertainment is a primary one of those functions.
Having everything in one place is very useful; we can play a game, search for casinos with PayPal deposit and spin a few reels, check our email and search for the closest Ikea without changing the device. In retrospect, it’s surprising that so few people foresaw the rise of mobile games.
Augmented reality and virtual reality
Of course, one of the driving factors behind the popularity of mobile games has been augmented reality. First made mainstream by Pokémon GO, AR has since been enthusiastically adopted by mobile game developers looking for the next big phenomenon.
Meanwhile, work has continued on making effective, lightweight and affordable VR headsets for gamers. There is some way to go before a headset is considered to be part of a gamer’s regulation kit, but the tech has got there. As more media is created to be VR-compatible, the hardware will become as ubiquitous as a gaming controller.
The explosion of esports
Ten years ago, the word esports was known only to a small sub-set of the population. Video game competitions were already taking place in public spaces, but the following was relatively small. Today it is a billion-dollar form of entertainment, with leagues, teams and sponsors like more traditional sports.
The rise has been driven by a couple of factors. First, the availability of free online multiplayer games like League of Legends, which built an enormous player base and fierce competition. Second, the creation of streaming sites where players invited an audience, also free of any paywall. The demand for such entertainment became clear, and the rest is history.
Story and narrative
While esports is dominated by first-person shooters and battle royale games, a more nuanced type of title is coming through. Many gamers love a story with depth and narrative intrigue, and many of today’s games are quite cinematic in their look and feel. Like a modern-day version of a choose your own adventure book, these deep and layered games keep players enthralled for days, weeks, and months.
Space for indie developers
One really significant development over the past decade has been the proliferation of indie titles. This has been made possible by things like crowdfunding, digital distribution, and tool kits for developers becoming easier to access and use.
Ten years ago, the big studios were in charge, making and releasing only games that would have widespread mass appeal. As the production, funding, and distribution space have become more democratized, so gaming has diversified to an incredible degree.
Post-release game development
In 2020, the consumer is no longer a passive entity. Feedback from end-users is sought by almost all sectors, and it is common for products to be adjusted in response to criticism. While that may not be possible with some media – the final season of Game of Thrones will never be remade, no matter how many people sign a petition – but video game makers are quite capable of listening to fan suggestions.
Box games have given way to downloads, and games can be patched and updated quickly. These days it has become common for developers to release early versions of their games specifically to invite suggestions. The end result is games that are more satisfying for players, not to mention making more money for the studio.
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