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How gaming has changed over the past 20 years



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The gaming industry is the fastest growing industry in the world right now. In 70 years, video games have gone from monochrome lines and shapes to ultrarealistic 3D technicolor. This technology has become so advanced that it has been sought after by other sectors too, such as special effects and training simulators. 

The growth hasn’t always been smooth, rather the industry has grown exponentially in the last few decades. Driven by an intense competition between console manufacturers, the gaming industry has changed more in the last 20 years than in the first 50. 

The global gaming industry is now worth nearly $160 billion dollars and set to grow even more. With the highly anticipated launch of the next generation of consoles scheduled for the end of the year, we could be about to see another huge leap in design and gameplay quality.

But it isn’t just the look and feel of the games which has changed over the past 20 years. Different ways of playing, the types of games which are popular and even how we purchase and play them have all gone through significant evolutions this millennium. So, here’s a recap of the last 20 years and how the video gaming industry has become what it is today.

Online Gaming

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The internet has brought gamers together from across the globe.

Faster internet speeds meant that gamers no longer had to physically connect their computers to play against each other. As a result, the early 2000s saw the rise of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) and MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas), the most influential of which were World of Warcraft and Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). 

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOs) introduced players to vibrant new worlds with infinite possibilities; you could choose which quests to take and how you completed them, team up with friends or strangers, or just spend hours killing low-level mobs for XP. Online gaming also connected consoles as popular games started to include cross-platform multiplayer modes. This started the rapid decline of split-screen and couch co-op gaming.

The development of the internet also provided a platform for online casino gaming. People could now connect with others and play their favorite table games like poker and blackjack, or just enjoy some solo time with the slot machines without having to deal with the noise of a land-based casino. While the original graphics for games were basic, the evolution of online casinos has followed the same path as video games, with modern sites now having HD graphics. In our opinion, 888 Casino is one of the best, they offer casino games in superb quality, including thousands of online slots featuring a wide range of themes.

Console Wars and Interactivity

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The battle between home gaming consoles took off and is still present today with the arrival of the next gen consoles at the end of this year.

The start of the 21st century also saw the release of the next wave – home gaming consoles. The Sega Dreamcast found itself quickly outshone by the Sony PlayStation, which boasted backwards compatibility and the ability to play DVDs and CDs. It eventually went on the become the best-selling games console of all time, a record it holds to this day. While the early 2000s saw the introduction of Microsoft’s Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube. So, Sega became the first victim of the console wars and this marked their exit from the competition for good.

Five years later, the first HD consoles were released, and this brought a huge update to the quality of gaming graphics. This console war was won by the Nintendo Wii. Although graphically inferior, its innovative motion-sensitive gaming gave the industry a whole new appeal. Suddenly games were for the whole family, and videos of Wii bowling grandparents and hula hooping teenagers went viral. 

The Xbox also had its own motion capture system in the Kinect, and games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band allowed players to connect controllers shaped like guitars, drum kits and microphones, for a truly interacting experience. Gaming was getting people off the sofa and widening its appeal.

Social and Mobile Gaming

Mobile gaming now accounts for more than half of the total gaming industry’s revenue.

As games became more accessible and more people started to play them, the social game was born. Originally appearing as part of social media platforms, they allowed friends to play against each other at puzzle games like scrabble, or to send each other ‘help’ in the form of lives or items to aid in their game play. Farmville, Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds started the new wave of casual gaming, where there were no difficult controls to master, and no long campaigns to complete.

It wasn’t long before these games migrated onto mobile devices. When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, it gave every user a miniature computer in their pockets, one which could store and play dozens of high-quality games. 

Mobile gaming has had a remarkable influence on payment models too, with free-to-play and freemium games now the industry standard, and it has filtered through into console and PC games in the form of DLCs and expansion packs. Free-to-play games make their money though selling advertising banners and offering in-game purchases, rather than from a purchase price. This gives developers an incentive to keep adding new features to a game, rather than abandoning it to work on a sequel. 


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The future of gaming is competitive. eSports is set to be a billion-dollar industry in the next few years, with an impressive fanbase.

In the 2010s, video games continued to develop, with graphics quality improving and the possibilities for gameplay virtually infinite. The biggest change, however, has been the way that competitive gaming has moved into the mainstream. Thanks to services like YouTube and Twitch, a whole new generation of gamers are growing up with the ability to watch other people play and enjoying it as much as watching a football match or the Grand Prix. eSports is now a major business, with gamers competing in all manner of games, from League of Legends, to FIFA and Fortnite. It’s still growing too, with experts predicting that the industry will be worth $1.5 billion by 2023.


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