Video games have remained a prominent sector within the entertainment industry since they reached the mainstream in the late 1980s, early 1990s. When William Higinbotham created what is regarded as one of the world’s first video games in the 1950s – Tennis for Two, one of the first electronic games to employ a graphical display and the first interactive game build for an analog computer – he had no idea he was building a business that would generate over US$180 million in revenue by 2021.
It’s undeniable that video games have one of the largest fan-bases in the entertainment industry, and what was once thought to be an isolated and unsociable format has now evolved into a dominant medium, even giving birth to new careers and professionals. Furthermore, with billions of people around the world instructed to stay home due to the ongoing pandemic in the past two years, most of us resorted to video games to cope with the whole situation.
Video games have changed dramatically over the last few decades, heavily influenced by new technology and gaming trends, but players’ demand for unique gaming experiences has remained intact. Gamers seek the most intriguing gameplay and mechanics with each new generation of consoles and gaming computers, and developers push the envelope to present us with innovative approaches to gaming, continuously revamping the way we play video games.
The industry is undoubtedly one of the sectors that has profited the most from technological improvements, and it has seen amazing transitions in recent years as a result of new devices, more sophisticated hardware, and enhanced platforms. With each new tech advancement, video game creators come up with new gaming experiences and give players new alternatives of virtual entertainment.
Mobile devices and HTML5 language
Back in 1994, when the Hagenuk MT-2000 was launched with a preloaded game – a variation of the all-time classic Tetris – mobile gaming was somewhat of a strange notion. “Why would someone want to play games on a telephone?”. Considering mobile technology was still in its infancy, using a phone as a platform for playing video games was, to say the least, unusual.
The breakthrough for mobile gaming came three years later, when Nokia released a line of mobiles with a preloaded version Snake, which became a sensation all over the world and put Nokia at the top of the industry, with over 350 million devices globally having it installed.
With the advent of the HTML5 language in the late 2000s, developers became able to devise new platforms and games that could be utilized across several devices, taking mobile gaming to a whole new level.
Mobile games now account for a sizable portion of the video game business, with developers increasingly prioritizing iOS and Android devices and regularly launching new titles. Mobile games such as Garena Free Fire and Arena of Valor are even featured in esports leagues and tournaments, and casual games like Angry Birds remain extremely popular.
Mobile gaming developments may also be observed in the iGaming business, with mobiles playing a significant part in the popularization of online gambling. As the number of smartphones on the market grows quickly, gambling operators began to provide their services on mobile-friendly platforms, and now, bettors are able to play real-money casino games and place wagers on major sporting events via mobile devices.
Live streaming technology
Live streaming has been responsible for substantial developments in the world of online gaming since its popularization in the late 2000s. Apart from bringing previously unknown games to light, live streaming has also proven to be an effective promotional strategy for publishers, supplanting traditional channels such as magazines, television ads, and demo versions.
Additionally, the fact that gaming may now be considered a professional career is largely due to live streaming and platforms like Twitch. Twitch viewership continues to climb year after year, with the platform experiencing unprecedented growth in recent months, particularly during the early stages of the pandemic. Twitch recorded almost 30 million hours watched in 2021, marking a 45 percent growth year over year.
Virtual reality concepts were first proposed a long time ago, and the first devices that were built around these ideas were developed in the 1960s. However, the video game industry made its initial forays towards VR gaming in the late 1980s, with devices such as Mattel’s Power Glove and Nintendo’s Virtual Boy debuting a few years later, in the early 1990s. But due to the technology limitations at the time and the high cost of these devices, virtual reality gaming developments would be put on a halt for more than a decade.
With the 2013 launch of Oculus Rift, the first consumer-ready VR device, and succeeding products like PlayStation VR, the industry once again focused on virtual and augmented reality, and with tech breakthroughs these gadgets became much more affordable.
Virtual reality originated a whole new gaming genre that provides immersive environments and gameplay in a unique way, and we now see a plethora of VR games being released, including adaptations and games exclusively designed for VR devices.