You’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of how big online gaming has become in recent years. Even a person with little-to-no interest in gaming would be aware of huge online games such as Fortnite.
The growth and appeal of online gaming isn’t down to one thing; it’s a combination of constantly-improving technology, creative innovation and an ever more connected world.
Below are some of the main reasons online gaming continues to grow in popularity.
High speed internet is now standard
There was a time back in the early 2000s when high speed broadband was far from standard. However, these days, most gamers in the developed world have access to high speed internet at affordable prices. This has no doubt been one of the biggest contributing factors to the popularity of online gaming.
Broadband and wi-fi have made it possible for console gamers to join in with the online gaming experience from around the mid 2000s onwards, with the release of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, where online gaming on consoles became standard.
High speed internet is a necessity for a lot of modern online games, especially in highly competitive genres like first person shooters where frame rate and low latency are key.
Online gaming becoming increasingly more popular over the last 15-20 years has led to the birth of several new genres, such as battle royale games, MOBAs and asymmetrical games.
The battle royale genre in particular, led to a huge surge in online gamers, thanks to games like PUBG and Fortnite. Since then games like Apex Legends and Warzone have become staples of the genre and for many online gamers, BR games make up the bulk of their playing time.
In addition to aforementioned BR games, there are also the MOBA heavyweights – League of Legends and DOTA 2, whose player bases make up a huge chunk of online gamers; as well as the hugely popular asymmetrical horror game – Dead by Daylight.
Another reason for online gaming being so popular is the huge choice in games available now. Although shooters, MMOs and MOBAs make up the most popular titles, there are many genres available to play, no matter what your tastes.
If you prefer slower paced, more strategic games, then there’s a multitude of card games, such as Hearthstone, Gwent and Magic: The Gathering to name just a few. There are also classic real-time strategy games such as Age of Empires 2 that now have online play available.
With so much choice available, it’s no wonder that there’s an online game out there to appeal to any type of gamer, even those that like popular slots on trusted sites like PowerPlay.
A very big contributing factor to the popularity of online games has been the expansion of the free-to-play model. Unlike most games, where you either pay an upfront cost or a monthly subscription, FTP games are available to play completely for free. This makes their potential for gaining a huge player base significantly higher.
The free-to-play model first came about in the late 90s and early 2000s with a range of MMOs such as Runescape, proving to be hugely popular. Nowadays, some of the biggest online games in the world are FTP, including battle royale titles such as Fortnite, Apex Legends and Warzone as well as titles like Genshin Impact and Warframe.
Cosmetics and battle passes
Tying in closely with the free-to-play model, cosmetics and battle passes provide players with an incentive to keep playing a game in the long term.
The first game to introduce a battle pass was Dota 2 back in 2013. Since then, many games have introduced battle passes and cosmetics as a standard part of the experience, with perhaps the most famous being the Fortnite battle pass.
Having earnable cosmetics gives players a sense of reward and pride while playing the game and has proven to be extremely profitable for companies such as Epic Games and EA. Even well-established franchises, such as Overwatch and PUBG have now switched to the FTP/BP model.
Sense of connection
Aside from the technology and types of games available, a massive reason why online gaming continues to be so popular is because of the sense of connection it provides players with.
Many online games now are team-based. Titles such as Valorant, Overwatch, Dota 2, League of Legends and World of Warcraft require you to be part of a team and work together to achieve your goals. Although there’s no doubt this can have its downsides in the form of toxic behaviour, it also gives players a chance to connect with other people from all corners of the globe.
The opportunity to play with and against other players all over the world has always been one of the biggest draws of online gaming and will continue to be, as new technology such as VR becomes more commonplace.