The gaming industry is constantly evolving, developing new ideas for games, new ways to play them, and new models to monetise them. While it may not always be easy to see this change when you’re right in the middle of it, stepping back and comparing today’s landscape to that of just a few years ago reveals how far we’ve come.
When you zoom out even further, the difference becomes even more noticeable. In fact, you’ll begin to see distinct eras in gaming, categorised by a unique set of features that make each one stand out.
For example, back in the 1980s, there was a shift from arcade gaming to early consoles and home computers. This presented a lucrative opportunity to many companies working in the industry, resulting in them flooding the market with titles. During this time, we saw the success of legendary games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders; however, this also led to many poor-quality copycat titles.
Other trends have included the development of 3D graphics, allowing for more immersive games; CDs and DVDs that gave developers the capacity to create larger titles; and the proliferation of the internet which has allowed people to compete with each other online.
These are all shifts in the gaming landscape that are far in our rearview mirrors today, but changes continue to come thick and fast. Here are some of the most recent gaming developments and trends that are likely to change the way you enjoy this interactive medium.
Online casinos are nothing new. They’ve been around since the mid-1990s following the passing of the Free Trade and Processing Zone Act of 1994 by the Antigua and Barbudan government. However, the early casinos from the era of Windows 95 look nothing like what we know today.
The American casino gaming landscape is shifting radically. Until just a few years ago, it was almost impossible to find sites offering real-money casino games in the USA but following rule changes in relation to online sports betting, iGaming companies are thriving.
As more states permit online casinos and more companies enter the market vying for business, we’re seeing a race to offer the biggest and best promotions to attract new players. This includes incredibly popular free sign up bonuses that reward new players with a small amount of credit to use on games without the need to make a deposit first.
Since game theory is driving this and the market still has a lot of room to grow in the US, players are going to see a lot more of these promotions for the foreseeable future. Therefore, if you’re savvy and willing to shop around (or join multiple sites), you could enjoy a lot of games for free.
Games as a Service
From the mid-1980s onwards, games have almost always been sold as a finished product. It used to be that you handed over your money and received the whole game which you were free to play as much as you wanted.
However, as development costs rose and players became reluctant to pay ever-growing amounts of money for new releases, publishers began searching for ways to generate more revenue.
They started by offering additional in-game content after the player had purchased the main title up front, similar to how expansion packs worked, but usually with more options sold in smaller packages.
Gradually, gaming companies have realised that they can do away with selling the games and just make their money from the small purchases of in-game content. In the last couple of years, this has really accelerated with companies like Activision and Valve converting some of their existing IP into free-to-play games.
Epic Games has also done this with Fortnite, building an entire ecosystem around its free game by charging for regular ‘battle passes’ that offer extra content and access to time-limited challenges.
This has turned video games from a product into a service. You’re no longer buying a game to play; you rent access to servers that they run on. It’s proving incredibly popular among players and very lucrative for the companies, so it’s set to continue.
For players, the effects of this depend on whether you like this free-to-play model or not. If you do, then you’ll have access to a lot more free gaming content to enjoy with, of course, the option to pay for extras to enjoy them even more. However, if you don’t, you could well be left frustrated at the fact that the entire gaming industry is heading in this direction.