How Digital Technology Is Evolving Gaming
The digital revolution has transformed many industries across the world. From travel to retail and education to medicine, new inventions have brought about huge change in the products and services we consume. Look around you right now and you’ll see the pieces of technology that were once luxuries are now necessities. We’ve been so keen to adopt new ways to make our lives easier and our entertainment better.
One sector that’s been a powerhouse in driving this widespread technological change is gaming. In fact, if you compare the sort of gaming we enjoy today with just a decade ago it’s easy to notice huge leaps and bounds. Whereas we were once waiting years to move through the ranks between 8, to 16, to 32-bit consoles, the updates we see today are ongoing as game developers and computing giants have taken digital enhancement to the next level.
4 key drivers of gaming development
It’s easy to think that gaming is just a modern phenomenon, but in fact it dates back hundreds of years. For example, in the late 19th century the first modern slot machine was brought to the world. It wasn’t by the gaming giants we know today, but by one man who was determined to leave his mark on the world. Find out more about the fascinating story of Charles Fey, who gaming pioneer who invented the fruit machine.
Just as today’s slots are unbelievably complex and sophisticated compared with Fey’s original Liberty Bell machine, the games we play today seem light years ahead of the ones played from the earliest days of gaming.
Gaming developments over the last 10 years have come in four key areas.
- Live gaming. More of us are able to play games online both by themselves and with others thanks to high-speed broadband. This means it’s been made possible to take on opponents from all round the world to compete in our favorite games, introducing a new social and team-building aspect to gaming. It’s also led to the arrival of sites like Twitch turning video gaming into a spectator sport, too. With a million people viewing at any given point, it’s proving more popular than many traditional entertainment channels. Twitch itself also takes advantage of its huge popularity by staging major events designed to attract even more viewers.
- Enhanced graphics. Each generation of games has introduced even better and more lifelike graphics which have made the gaming experience more immersive and engaging. We only have to look back at how primitive the first versions of Super Mario were 20 years ago to see just how far we have come. Looking into the future, virtual reality is set to transform the playing experience even more – with the size of the market set to grow eight times its current size by 2022.
- The growth of mobile gaming. There’s nothing particularly new about playing on a mobile device. After all, Nintendo GameBoy and Sega Game Gear were big favourites in the 1990s. But the ease of access, free downloads and sheer wide range of games is a phenomenon that’s been made possible with the widespread rollout of smartphones. It’s estimated that around $70 billion will be spent on mobile games in 2018 – more than 50% of the $140 billion total gaming spend.
- Cloud-based technology. This has already started to make playing ever more complex games (requiring a bigger memory capacity) a reality. By not taking up huge chunks of a device’s memory and RAM it will make them more accessible to everyone – so even the cheapest devices and consoles will be capable of giving players the chance to enjoy the most in-depth games.
Key gaming milestones of the last decade
So that’s where we are in 2018, but which milestones have led us here?
Let’s start in 2007 which saw the launch of Rock Band. Produced by Harmonix, it proved the theory that combining a game and young people’s No.1 passion could be a winning combination.
A year later, in 2008, World of Warcraft introduced the concept of the multiplayer online game which has used the internet to fuel its growth ever since, culminating in a runaway success like Fortnite today.
In 2009, the games industry was given another massive shot in the arm with the first appearance of social games like Farmville and Angry Birds. These relatively simple games nevertheless introduced a whole new generation to the joys of online games.
Soon after, the indie game in which players started to participate fully in its progress was born with the launch of Minecraft. This swept the world in terms of popularity and still has a huge following today.
In 2012, a whole new form of funding for games developers was born with the arrival of Kickstarter. Whereas before a good idea also needed huge backing if it was ever to get off the ground, this collaborative form of finance raising opened up a whole new world of possibilities.
2014 saw the emergence of a whole new business model for the gaming industry with free to play games starting to appear. The appeal was obvious – high quality games that could be downloaded but which relied on microtransactions to raise revenue for the developers. With games like League of Legends earning an estimated $1 billion a year from this source it’s certainly proved to be a winning formula.
Jumping ahead to 2016 this heralded the arrival of a game changer in every sense of the word. The world was introduced to Pokémon Go, which introduced levels of AR previously never experienced in a game. The numbers of players this attracted immediately were off the scale – over 550 million installs within 80 days of its launch.
Today, console developers are ready to take on smartphones and tablets with the launch of the Nintendo Switch. And the first ever hybrid mobile/home console is proving to be an immediate success.
Looking to the future we can only expect to see even more technological breakthroughs of this kind as well as increasingly complex and involving games. Virtual reality, gesture control and facial recognition is well on its way and this is sure to make future games even more exciting and immersive than ever. So, in another decade’s time, we may not just be playing the games we could even be living inside them.
It remains to be seen how gaming will develop. But whether you’re gaming on your console while sat on your couch, using gesture control to play games controller-free, or playing on the move – innovations are continuing to make the future of gaming a reality.
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