The Evolution of Online Gaming

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It’s amazing how online multiplayer has evolved over the past 20 years. Now, online gaming is a part of a cultural phenomenon that has now turned into a form of mainstream entertainment worldwide. 

All you really need to play online games is a decent PC and a good internet connection. In case you don’t know which internet service provider is good enough or suitable for your personal needs, Centurylink and Viasat are good names to start with. Learn more in these Frontier internet review and Viasat internet review and you’re good to go. Online games aren’t just about playing anymore: it’s about winning and socializing. You won’t win any games and befriend anyone with a bad internet connection.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how online gaming has morphed through the years starting with the mid to late 90’s where it started to become popular. 

1995-1999: The Rise of Arena Shooters

It was a turning point for video games at this time especially on PC. Games were more action-packed, open-ended and, most especially, violent. DOOM and Duke Nukem 3D were two of the biggest stars of this era, bringing nothing but endless supplies of blood, gore and guns. Sure, these were fun but it focused on single-player only. That was until the release of the Quake trilogy and Unreal Tournament came in. 

Initially, Quake was supposed to be just like DOOM except you’re battling aliens on a fully-3D environment. But when Quake III Arena showed up, that was when things started to change. It was one of the very first popular multiplayer games that let you play with other people online using dial-up. While it wasn’t the first to implement online mode in a game, it did put a mark in the gaming community, sparking the possibility of competing with other players outside your home. Another game that swept the community was Unreal Tournament – the biggest rival to Quake III Arena due to its fast-paced gameplay and pitch-perfect gunplay. 

At the same time period, WarCraft. WarCraft II, Age of Empires and Age of Empires II were released, bringing a new form of RTS gaming by playing with other players online.

But, another game emerged that would soon become the groundwork for esports: StarCraft – the RTS sensation made by Blizzard – the creators of WarCraft and The Lost Vikings.

While online gaming became a hit in North America and Europe, it wasn’t until the year 2000s when multiplayer turned into a global sensation.

The 2000s: Online Gaming Makes a Mark on the World

Gamers began to feel the arena shooter burnout and wanted something new. The answer? Tactical shooters. That was when Counter-Strike was released to the public as a Half-Life mod. Soon after, thousands upon thousands of players wanted a piece of the action whether via LAN or broadband. Its strategic gameplay mixed with pulse-pounding fast action shooting made it what it is today. It laid the foundation of many hit FPS games today such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and Rainbow Six: Siege

Within that year, Quake III Arena and StarCraft became one of the first ever esports games in the world right beside fighting games. 

2001 saw the rise of Runescape, a classic RTS RPG that was one of the first to be called MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game).

However, console players wanted a piece of that action. In 2002, Microsoft created Xbox. Within that console, they added a new feature that popularized console multiplayer gaming: Xbox Live. Of course, when you think of Xbox Live, you think of one game: Halo (queue the theme song). 

After gaining kudos from gamers, Sony created the PlayStation Network and Nintendo established Nintendo online in hopes of winning the players’ love on the new kind of game.

2004-2009: A New Breed of Gaming Begins

While single player games were still selling like hotcakes, 2004 was considered as arguably the best year in gaming for sequels: GTA San Andreas, World of WarCraft, Metal Gear Solid 3, Halo 2, Spider-Man 2, The Sims 2, Half-Life 2, and Shrek 2.

Halo 2 and World of WarCraft were forever sealed as the major turning point in video games. Halo 2’s release saw a double in sales for Xbox and quadruple numbers of Xbox Live members. Meanwhile, World of WarCraft kept having millions of players every month, making it the best-selling MMORPG of all time.

And in 2005, a WarCraft mod would soon become one of the biggest multiplayer games ever: DotA. 4 years later after its popularity, some of the developers of DotA established their own studio Riot Games and created their own standalone game, beginning a new rivalry in gaming: League of Legends. Thus, MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) was born. 

2007 was the year when class-based shooters became popular to a big audience: Team Fortress 2. It was also another arguably best year in gaming, especially with the release of Halo 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – two of the biggest online games at the time until 2009 when Minecraft started hitting the PC shelf and expanded onto other platforms after getting bought out by Microsoft.

2009 – 2019: Online Gaming Becomes Mainstream Entertainment

Looking at the past decade, it’s amazing how online gaming has come so far. From its peak in the mid to late 2000s and see how millions of players worldwide have appreciated the beauty of this new form of entertainment in this generation. 

Now we have battle royale games, large esports events, major gaming sponsors, live streaming, auto-chess and, for casuals, mobile games. It’s a huge wonder how online gaming will look like in the next decade.