The market for online gaming has enjoyed an upward trajectory in the past decade, even more so since 2020. This sector grew by a significant 21.9% from 2019 to 2020. But it’s not just the pandemic that spurred more people to embrace Internet-based games. Technological advancements have played a key role in that journey.
Thanks to major tech advances, gaming companies have managed to create completely new experiences for game lovers. Players need not depend on the good old PC or gaming console anymore. More gaming devices and platforms have been added to the mix, as have new technologies. These innovations will continue to break boundaries and drive the online gaming industry to new heights. Let’s dive into the top tech advances that have impacted online gaming over the past few years.
One of most talked-about technological innovations in online gaming is virtual reality (VR). It provides an immersive gaming experience by simulating reality (or at least whatever reality the game world presents) and puts the player into that simulated environment. It creates a fully-simulated environment, isolated from any input from the physical world. In order to create such an experience, virtual reality uses a gateway between a player and the simulated environment. Players need to use VR headsets such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR to enter this new world of absolute immersion. Virtual reality is being used beyond gaming in other industries including healthcare, education and automotive.
VR is also used by the online casino industry on some of the well-known sites for casino games. It adds a new dimension to live dealer games since players can join gaming rooms in real-time. Thanks to virtual reality, online casino players can enjoy a very similar experience as that offered by brick-and-mortar casinos.
Of course, VR is not restricted to online gaming only. Several good offline titles such as Pistol Whip, Moss and Until You Fall are also available for VR gaming enthusiasts.
Instead of blocking real-world inputs, which is the concept that virtual reality relies on, augmented reality (AR) uses it as a platform to provide content for players. AR just transforms the real world into an immersive playing environment. It uses computer-generated content as digital assets layered on top of what player sees in the real world. Perhaps the most famous example of augmented reality in online gaming is Pokemon Go. We all remember the buzz this game created. Millions of players were on the chase for Pokemons in many different real-world places. The Pokemon Go game was a big milestone in the online gaming industry since it had people embracing AR most readily.
It uses four important elements to create such an experience – a capable display, a tracking sensor and/or camera, a combination of virtual and physical environments, and real-time interaction.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reshaped many industries, and gaming is just one of them. It can provide many insights into players’ experiences, preferences, and many more. AI uses different algorithms to generate this data. Eventually, the aggregation of this information can help game developers provide a more personalized experience to end users.
Mobile technologies have heavily reshaped the online gaming industry. Those times when you had to sit in front of your PC or gaming console have passed; you can play your favorite game anytime and anywhere. Mobile gaming provides the highest level of convenience to players since they need just an internet connection to play games online. Nowadays, online games are being perfectly tailored for small screens and the hardware is also being enhanced to accommodate resource-hungry titles. On top of that, smartphones are getting more and more affordable. So it makes sense that developers would start taking mobile gamers more seriously than ever before.
Game streaming goes by many other names such as cloud gaming, gaming-as-a-service and gaming on demand. For players who don’t have the expensive hardware required to play graphics-heavy games and the local storage space to download and install these titles, cloud gaming comes to the rescue.
It basically runs online video games on remote servers and streams them directly to the gamer’s device of choice. It’s a great idea, even if Google Stadia’s imminent shutdown seems to suggest otherwise. Just because it’s at a nascent stage right now, that doesn’t take away from its immense promise.
Blockchain and NFT
Blockchain is another tech accomplishment that has found its place in the online gaming sector. Blockchain games use NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and cryptocurrencies. It rewards players for spending time gaming by letting them securely trade unique and induplicable in-game items using cryptocurrency, with the publisher getting a small cut of it. CryptoKitties was the first such game. But Axie Infinity is unarguably the most well-recognized. The presence of NFT in gaming has opened new opportunities for gamers and investors. Thanks to NFT, the play-to-earn model has been leveraged substantially, and it will continue to grow as the industry evolves.
Crypto gaming might become more mainstream in the near future, attracting more investors. As a result, new revenue streams should appear since gamers can get more opportunities to earn crypto by playing their favorite games.
Tech advancements like those listed above will keep providing rocket fuel for the fast-growing online gaming industry. The market will continue to expand and diversify, which will lead to more players, spectators and revenue. In 2025, online gaming audiences are expected to cross the 1.3 billion mark.
Gaming isn’t a niche form of entertainment anymore. Game developers will have endless opportunities to create new gaming experiences. Thanks to blockchain, immersive technologies, and better hardware, players can expect even more improvements in the future.