To say it really only existed as we know it now from the 1990s onwards, online gaming has come a very long way from its simple roots. The technology we take for granted today would have seen astronomical in terms of the simplicity employed by developers back then, and we are still seeing massive improvement year on year. The software used in online gaming looks set to continue to boom with the consumer usage of virtual reality and augmented reality in gaming. But what evolutions have we seen so far?
Moving on from the short-sightedness of both the Seganet and Dreamarena that were launched for the Dreamcast in 1999 – the platforms were only available through dial-up – Microsoft launched the Xbox Live in 2002, as part of its commitment to online gaming which began to kick off properly. The launch of the peer-to-peer multiplayer mode was a huge watershed moment for gaming. Rather than being a purely solitary pursuit, gaming could be something you did both cooperatively with friends and competitively against other players. Sony followed with PlayStation 2 Online in 2001/2, which focused on 3rd party servers as opposed to ones controlled by the network. The PlayStation Network launched in 2006, and boasted over 110 million users by 2013. The worldwide expansion of this allowed distant communities to interact and bond over a shared passion. It didn’t matter that they were speaking different languages, or at different times of the day.
The live streaming capabilities of online gaming also broke through another ceiling of the industry. While Twitch is probably the most famous of the live streaming sites, with 45 million players and spectators logging on each month, YouTube, XSplit, and Mixer also allow users to livestream their own content, because it is quite easy to learn how to use obs nowadays with so many resources online. This software was also picked up by live streaming casino games, in order to give the immersive casino experience a stronger atmosphere.
For example, 32Red roulette can be played live with other players and a live dealer, magnifying the tension that occurs when playing roulette. Other brands, like Paddy Power poker, focus on showcasing The live dealer, with the live aspects of the game enhancing the gameplay in order to give players greater enjoyment of the captivating aspect of the platform. Bingocams offer a similar experience but with bingo numbers being called through live technology.
The Steam platform by Valve Corporation also reconfigured the digital gaming sphere. Estimated in 2013 to command 75% of the market share, there is no doubt now that Steam is the biggest and most influential digital distribution platform. Indeed, in 2015 Steam claimed profits of $3.5 million in the downloading and distributing of games, and totalled 15% of all PC game sales. The software allows users to share gaming content and while also acting as a social network, surpassing other media that neglects the double-sided coin that both facets entail.
Online gaming software looks to develop alongside the way we harness other technology. So the growing rate of Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook ‘stories’ reflects the growing desire to share what we are doing. This may inspire those who wouldn’t normally share their gaming lives to do this. This is especially prevalent in mobile gaming. iOS and Android are just the latest additions to how online gaming software is rolled out.
The complications for a mobile based system differ greatly from a sedentary one. The nature of the software means technology has to – and can – adapt at a greater rate. Online connectivity grew from sharing scores with friends on Angry Birds to playing two-player on online apps such as Fun Run. Online casino operators are also harnessing the elements of their industry or online gaming software that works with mobile, such as the 32Red mobile site that provides the same offering, but in a more compact and quicker way of playing.
Enhancements in online gaming software are often trickled down through platforms and from commercially viable to the consumer’s front room. Most are brought about based on satisfying the needs of not the contented gamers who continue to play, but the early adopters who are already looking for the next big thing. It is crucial in an industry for there to be such a technological desire for greater operating systems in order to keep the cycle of growth continual.