Why Game Development Became One of The Web's Most Lucrative Sectors

Why Game Development Became One of The Web's Most Lucrative Sectors

The Worldwide Web was a place of dreams

When the worldwide web first came into public consciousness, there was a lot of excitement about the potential for accessing endless information. However, while the dream was compelling, the reality of accessing the internet in the late 1990s was more of a nightmare. There was no broadband and no WIFI. The reality was that to access the internet; you had to unplug your landline phone and plug in a dial-up modem. The only alternative was installing a costly second phone line in your home.

The Worldwide Web was a nightmare

When you did get online, it was all grindingly slow. The only websites that would load had very low-quality images and were static. Speculators and investors got terribly excited about the prospect of eCommerce. However, most shoppers were bewildered by the idea that they might ever choose to purchase in an online store. The whole world of eCommerce boomed and then went bust. Investors were left licking their wounds (and staring into empty wallets). However, the foundations of online transactions had been laid. From the ashes, the phoenix of fintech, PayPal, emerged. It had been set up to enable secure peer-to-peer transactions over the internet, and when buying stuff online became a reality, PayPal was there to clean up.

Early gaming

It was not only fintech that grasped the early opportunities the world wide web offered. Online gaming, in particular MMORPGs, grabbed the opportunity to connect millions of people and create a world where they could interact. However, the graphics and animations were relatively basic - particularly compared to what was now available to players on Xbox, PlayStation and, later, Wii. Monetisation was still a pipedream. The game consoles were all about image quality, smooth graphics, and glitch-free gaming. The downside was that they were largely a solitary pass time.

If you wanted to be sociable when playing video games, you needed to invite your friends around, buy extra controllers and possibly multiplayer versions of your game. The online MMORPGs offered something entirely different. With their low fi resolution, they relied on narrative and community-building for their success. For game developers, the money was in console-based gaming, and this is where the investment was focused.

Software increasingly important

Increasingly elaborate games were created by emerging game developers. The first wave of video gaming was all about the hardware. Game developers like EA and Activision Blizzard, and Konami jostled alongside Sega and Nintendo to produce the best games. Microsoft moved from business to leisure software, and Sony branched into game development. Games had a finite life, while the consoles played on could last years.

Meanwhile, the online games did not change very much. Without significant improvements in connectivity, their developers were restricted by internet access speeds. The most important thing about games like Minecraft was that they were accessible and open to everyone.

Cloud-based gaming was a game changer

The big switch happened when superfast broadband (enabled by fibre optics) and fast mobile download speeds meant that cloud-based gaming and computing were no longer just a pipe dream. Superfast connectivity combined with smartphones with large clear screens and processing power that way exceeded earlier desktop computers meant that the world of online gaming and video gaming became one and the same thing.

Enter online casino gaming

In addition, almost accidentally, as this was happening, governments were relooking at gambling regulation. Online casinos were becoming increasingly popular, and lawmakers moved to protect citizens from bad practices. While some countries tried to ban access, the more enlightened created regulated markets and issued licenses to operators. The payment services that the likes of PayPal had pioneered all those years ago allowed secure transactions in the world of virtual casinos and betting. Developers who had honed their skills in video gaming created casino games to appeal in this emerging sector. Seeing the success of Microgaming and Playtech, there are now many fresh operators on the scene hoping to follow in their footsteps. Legislation is changing online casino gambling across the Americas. Several US States have opened up to online casinos, and north of the border, new Canadian online casinos are opening all time.

The lines are blurred

MMORPGs can offer the graphic qualities previously confined to console games. The video games no longer needed to be supplied on CD but could be downloaded from the cloud or played on the cloud. Games that had been restricted to one hardware format can be played across multiple devices. People can still play in solo mode, or they can challenge their mates or find new gamers to play against anywhere in the world.

A massive industry

The games industry is massive. It was once a tiny niche of the entertainment industry and regarded very much as child's play. Now everyone of every age is attracted to gaming. This could be anything from hyper-casual social gaming to first-person shooter games, fantasy role plays or the ever-popular MMORPGs. It is estimated that the gaming industry will be worth $470 billion by 2030. This is more than a doubling of its 2021 valuation of $197 billion. They are set to overtake movies and podcasts as the number one market for advertisers to focus on.

It has widely been regarded as a recession-proof industry. However, it did suffer a rare decrease in user growth in 2022. It is believed that this was because it grew so massively during the pandemic and lockdowns that it is now returning to more normal growth patterns.

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