Online gaming has been thriving in the last decade.
The development of the Internet has allowed data transfer speeds previously unheard of.
Those of us who still remember dial-up look at modern DSL connection and wonder how we ever survived those phone modems. This has made it possible for game developers to create online games that can rival those played offline. Another factor is the massive increase in the performance of mobile devices. Some phones have more computing power that top of the line gaming desktop computers in the recent past.
All these have created perfect conditions for online gaming and people jumped at the opportunity.
Games Are Expensive
Developing and marketing games can be an expensive proposition, especially the latter part. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into marketing campaigns for modern games. The second most expensive game ever, Grand Theft Auto V from 2013, cost Rockstar Games $265 million, or $291 in 2020 US dollars. The price tag was split roughly in half between development with $137 million and marketing, with $128 million. The most expensive game ever created has a more uneven split.
The development of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 cost just $50 million. However, Activision poured $200 million into marketing, for a grand total of $250 million, or $298 million adjusted for inflation. There is one title that threatens to overcome both GTA V and CoD: MW2. That is Star Citizen by Cloud Imperium Games. They have so far spent $250 million on development alone. Most of that money came from crowdfunding and the game hasn’t been even released yet. Add the inevitable marketing expenses and it is clear that Star Citizen has a shot at becoming the most expensive game ever.
People Like Watching Games as Much as Playing Them
The rise of online streaming and video platforms in the last two decades has vastly increased the interest in other people’s gaming. Not only it is entertaining, but you can also learn a thing or two. Twitch is probably the most popular platform for game streaming. On average, some 15 million people log in to the Twitch accounts to watch their favorite streamers play popular video games. Streaming has become a veritable branch of the gaming industry, with thousands of people making a living on the income they derive from it.
Gaming History is Long
We usually think that video games started in the 1980s or the 1970s at the earliest. However, the first trademarked video game dates back to 1947. The Cathode ray tube Amusement Device, as it was called, was based on radar display technology and it was the first electronic video game in history. Mechanical devices are much older.
The first slot game was made back in the 19th century, in 1891, in New York. It cost a nickel to play and it was an instant success. You could find it in almost every bar across the city. New models, inspired by the success of that first machine, soon appeared. The history of slot machines that started from those humble beginnings resulted in modern online video slots we see today.
Gaming Is Family Fun
Reddit and 4chan have been trying to convince us that an average gamer is an overweight neckbeard living in his parents’ basement. While there are some that look like that, the vast majority of gamers are nothing alike. In fact, some 33% of all adults play video games regularly with their children at least once a week.
The Millennials, probably the most numerous cohort among gamers, have reached the age where they become family people and are trying to pass on their gaming experiences to their offspring. Video games have been traditionally associated with younger adults, but as generations that have grown up with them grow older, the target audience also changes. Older people are also enjoying games. About 30% of all gamers are now older than 50. In short, video games have become fun for the entire family.
Battle of the Sexes
Another tradition that has been shattered in the last decade or so is that video games are predominantly for males. Women are becoming more and more involved and last year, around 45% of all gamers were female. They also account for 46% of all game purchases. They do, however, enjoy different genres.
Women’s preference for complex stories, highly-personalized characters, and subtle plotlines have been driving the industry to develop games that are more suited to them. This, in turn, attracts more female players to the scene. So, next time you start raving about a girl in a game chat, think again. You might be in a minority. Games are not just a “boys’ thing” anymore.
Most Popular Genres
Judging by the news coverage, it would be easy to make a conclusion that FPS games like Modern Warfare, Call of Duty, and Counter-Strike are the most popular online games. The truth is that 62% of players enjoy puzzles and strategy games the most. The second place, with 49% of the players, goes to adventure games. Shooters are in third place, with 42%. The list continues with role-playing games with 39%, team sport or racing games with 33%, and 32% of gamers play mostly simulation games. There is also a sharp divide among sexes. Women overwhelmingly (72%) prefer puzzles, compared to 52% of men.
The Age Is Not A Factor
While it is true that most gamers are between 18 and 29 years old, all other age groups take part in online gaming and gaming in general. According to the Pew Research Center, 58% of males and 48% of females age 20 to 49 regularly play video games.
For the age group from 50 to 64, those percentages are 34% and 295 for men and women respectively. Finally, a quarter of people over 65 in the United States play video games still. In fact, many of them started gaming at their doctors’ recommendations, to improve their cognitive abilities.
Online games will continue to be a large chunk of the gaming industry. In fact, as more and more AAA titles choose to completely ignore single-player, multiplayer and online gaming may easily become a dominant form of gaming.