Virtual Vs Reality: How are gaming companies improving the way you play?
Online gaming has become increasingly popular in recent times. With the advent of the smartphone and regular developments in technology, there are around 2.5 billion gamers worldwide, with an annual turnover of almost US$17 billion in 2019. Even the most basic smartphone can run some fairly sophisticated games nowadays, and online gaming can be found on mobile devices, consoles and computers.
The types of games grabbing the attention
Ranging from MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), such as Defence of the Ancients, to MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) such as RuneScape, from FPS (first-person shooter) like Call of Duty all the way through to casino games, there is something for everyone. Games are not only fun, but can be used to relax, reduce stress, develop hand-eye coordination, and to ensure connections to other people sharing similar interests. For some, it has even become a way to make money.
The invention of the internet and increasing availability of the internet in the early 1990s led to an expansion of online games such as Quakeworld, Ultima Online and Starcraft, but these were limited by graphics and connectivity across networks. As the cost of technology dropped, and fast internet became commonplace, MMOs (massively multiplayer online games) emerged as a new genre, allowing players to play with others, forming online social circles and becoming a space for gamers to make connections with others.
The most well-known MMO is World of Warcraft, and despite many others trying to enter the market is remains the most popular, with players all over the world. From the MMO, the MOBA genre developed, allowing players to fight against other players, for example, Defence of the Ancient, and battle royale games, such as Fortnite Battle Royale.
Businesses across the world have been embracing the online world, where everything from shopping, to ordering food to booking holidays can all be done at the touch of a button. The virtual world has become as much a part of our lives as the physical. One industry that has embraced this move to the online world is online gambling.
The growth of online gambling
Moving away from the bricks and mortar of the physical casinos has seen the industry greatly expand its player base. The massive reduction in overheads when compared to a physical space means that casinos are now able to offer players lower stakes, allowing gamblers to place bets for mere cents. The development of mobile apps allows players to dip in and out on the go; players no longer have to take time out to go to a physical place and can access this from the comfort of their own homes. With the developments of new technologies, online casinos can feel like a real casino, from the flashing lights to the noises and even sensations.
Online poker has been increasing in popularity over the years, increasing from a mere US$82.7 million in 2001 to US$2.4 billion in 2005, and has been growing ever since. Increasing numbers of people are choosing to play poker online, rather than visiting a brick and mortar casino, this is a particular trend among younger people, who are more likely to want to get an understanding of the rules of poker in their own time, rather than facing pressure from experienced players while they learn the ins and outs of the game.
The online gambling market is flooded with different offerings, including traditional casino games, which still retain their popularity, through to sports betting, esports, and even celebrity betting! Online casinos have heavily invested in new technologies to remain competitive and offer incentives to players to entice them to their sites.
Popular games embraced by Android
Other online games have also kept pace with changing technologies. League of Legends (LoL), launched in 2009 is a fully online game, there is no physical copy and is played by scores of Android gamers worldwide. Players, in teams, can play against other players or computer-controlled champions to destroy the opposing team’s Nexus, a structure at the heart of their base surrounded by defensive mechanisms.
The developers have used technology to keep the game current and engaging, leading to LoL being the most played PC game in North America in 2012, and is considered to be the world’s largest eSport, with over 100 million unique viewers for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship. This popularity has spawned merchandise and tie-ins, with spin-off games, music videos, comic books, collectible figurines and even a K-Pop girl group composed of four LoL champions. In October 2020, an open beta was launched for League of Legends: Wild Rift in Southeast Asia for a mobile version of the game.
The rise of downloadable games
These online games no longer require a disk or cartridge to be played. This has enabled fuller use of the available technologies as developers are no longer limited by what a disk can hold, and players no longer constrained by losing or damaging a disk. Developers are also more easily able to create games that can be played on different platforms, for example, a PC and a mobile. The downloadable nature of the games also means that new content can be added more easily, and bug fixes rolled out more quickly, increasing the enjoyment factor for the players.
It has also meant that developers are no longer needing to create sequels to their games, as adding additional content has proved popular with players, keeping games current and culturally relevant. Rainbow Six Siege may be several years old, but Ubisoft has not needed to create a sequel to maintain its popularity; there are still over 25 million registered players. Some gaming companies have gone as far as using relatively new technologies, such as Virtual Reality, to create fully immersive worlds for their players.
In an ever-changing and developing world, businesses across the spectrum have had to use technology to keep pace, and game developers have been at the forefront of using this technology to innovate and create increasingly engaging and different games, appealing to all types of gamers, keeping abreast of current cultural and societal developments, keeping pace with competitors, and, most importantly, attracting new customers and keeping existing ones.