How the Internet Changed the Gaming Industry
The gaming industry has gone through countless eras based on the latest technologies, but one of the most disruptive additions was the birth of the Internet. The Internet has changed the face of gaming as we know it, from connecting gamers across the world to changing the way we envision, play, and even purchase games. Here are just a few ways the gaming industry has been affected.
No longer are games bound to a television or computer screen. Following the Internet, Internet-enabled mobile devices hit the scene, and mobile gaming became a new hit. Games were usually available on phones already but usually just a few built-in. Now there are entire online stores dedicated to apps, including many, many games—all of which can be both accessed and played online (if necessary).
The reinvention of multiplayer games
As gaming progressed, many were released that focused only on one player. Games like racing games and fighting games did always invite multiple players, including the infamous Super Smash Brothers. But the Internet now allows people to connect for all sorts of games, from Words with Friends to Farmville and all of its offshoots. Online multiplayer games connect players all over the world, and so multiplayer games have been reinvented since the dawn of the Internet.
In the realm of online multiplayer games, the concept of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have become a huge wave in game development. In these games, not only can you play with multiple players, but because you and the other players are connected to the game’s vast world by the Internet, you can play with other players in the next room, next neighborhood, or even next continent. For some, these types of games have even become a prime social outlet as they get to meet countless people from all over the world with at least one thing in common: the love of that particular game.
MMORPGs include Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Elder Scrolls Online, Everquest, and perhaps most famously, World of Warcraft. There are also countless free MMORPGs you can find on sites like MMORPG.com as well.
More inexpensive games
Before the Internet, most games tended to cost anywhere between $20 and $60. Now with the Internet and mobile game devices (smartphones and tablets), people might even look down upon games that cost more than a few dollars (with the exception of console games). Games on mobile devices tend to hover around a few dollars, and despite the lower prices, many game developers have still found ways to make the graphics and gameplay quite impressive.
Casual gaming means playing a game that does not require a lot of time. For example, instead of sitting in front of a console game or MMO for hours on end, games like Words With Friends can be played in short bursts here and there. Solitaire and Minesweeper were some of the first, but with the dawn of the Internet, examples of casual games can be found throughout any app store.
With new technologies generally comes new ways for people to make money, and the Internet offered just that for the gaming industry. Microtransactions became the wave of the future for gaming companies who reveled in the fact that gamers could now be accessed for far longer than just the initial sale of the game. Add-ons like levels, characters, avatars, props, health, lives, even avatar clothing and more can now be purchased for and through many games online.
Before the Internet, gaming companies usually had one point of transactional contact with a consumer: the sale of the game itself, unless the company released merchandise or an official guide. Now, taking advantage of consumers’ ability and desire to buy things online, gaming companies have found seemingly limitless ways to entice them to buy things to enhance their experience with a particular game.
Upgrades and patches
Patching is now a breeze for Internet-connected gamers who may frequently receive notifications about game upgrades and patches for fixing certain glitches and leveling out certain gaming strategies. This is good for game developers because they may not always catch all of the mistakes during testing, and gamers are great at finding all the extra glitches. But the ability to patch may have made some game developers a little less careful as a result, because they can always leave it up to the gamers to find them, then simply release a patch or upgrade, and problem solved.
But upgrades also help developers contend with master players of online games who think of effective strategies off the bat that put them far ahead of other competitors. Some upgrades can help to level the playing field a bit. Upgrades can also add new quests and other parts of the game to keep the same game running with new levels to conquer without having to buy an entire new game. Without the Internet, this would not have been possible without having to send new discs and cartridges to all game players, which would have been nearly impossible.
Game tips and tricks
Long gone are the days of magazine-like game guides and hint hotlines for when gamers were stuck on a particular level. With the Internet came chat rooms, online walkthroughs, entire websites dedicated to the ins and outs of nearly every game imaginable, and even videos of other people playing and talking you through different parts of the game so that you might have the same results. The only method of tips and tricks that is still around is asking your buddy, though now you can ask via email or even the messaging system in one of your online-based games.
The Internet has changed the face of the news industry forever as we know it, making it more accessible, social, and provided by more than a few major corporations. The same goes for gaming news. What was once limited to a few monthly magazines, such as Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World, and Nintendo Power, has now exploded into countless game review and news websites, big and small, which now provide 24-7 coverage of the industry. With all this news flying around, it may sometimes be harder to determine fact from fiction, but no more so than any other facet of the news today.
The gaming industry has a lot to thank the Internet for in terms of improvement and expansion. We’ll have to wait and see what the next technology will be to disrupt and change it all once again.