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The History & Evolution Of The Gaming Industry

Community Apr 1, 2022

As a result of the nationwide lockdowns imposed in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, some people turned to online gaming to pass the time. As a result, these platforms drew hundreds of thousands of additional visitors to web traffic, according to statista.com, in 2020, the revenue from the worldwide PC gaming market was estimated at almost 37 billion U.S. dollars, while the mobile gaming market generated an estimated income of over 77 billion U.S. dollars.

Baby Years:

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William Higinbotham invented tennis for two in the 1950s. Higinbotham designed this game as a lighthearted distraction to demonstrate the power of technology. He, like many others throughout history, underestimated the impact of his venture into video gaming. What followed was Spacewar!, a game created by Steve Russell at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962. This was a two-person game in which each player controlled either the wedge or the needle in an intense dogfight. Ralph Baer and his team developed the first commercially available home game system, dubbed the Brown Box, in 1967. It could play a few games like pong, checkers, and sports-related games. In 1972, Magnavox licensed the brown box, and in 1972 it was released as the Magnavox Odyssey.

The Arcade in the Age of Atari:

When Sega and Taito debuted their games, periscope and Crown Special Soccer, in 1966 and 1967, respectively, they were the first businesses to attract the public's interest in arcade gaming. Soon after, in 1972, Nolan Bushnell, the "Godfather of Gaming", and Ted Dabney, a pioneering electrical engineer, invented the arcade game, Pong. That same year, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded Atari. This organization not only developed its games by itself but also constructed an entire business around the arcade field.

Atari not only developed their games themselves, but they also built an entire business around the arcade industry, and in 1973 Atari began selling their first true electronic video game, Pong. The game’s success made many companies sail on the same ship as they started to develop their own video games.

By 1976, Atari had become the largest (and most profitable) participant in the electronic game industry. Warner Brothers purchased the company for approximately $28 million. Now, that would be worth more than $127 million. In 1997, they released the video pinball game.

The Beginnings of Multiplayer Gaming as We Know It:

Built for the Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operation (PLATO) network system in 1973, "Empire" is a strategic turn-based game for up to eight players. PLATO was one of the first universal computer-based education systems, invented by the University of Illinois and later purchased by Control Data (CDC), who built the computers that ran PLATO. It was one of the first technological milestones on the route to the Internet and modern-day online multiplayer gaming.

Gaming was a popular pastime among the younger generations, and arcades were full of it. Nobody could have expected that a gaming platform would be available to four out of every five American households.

Gaming At Home Is The Future:

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Personal computers and mass-produced gaming consoles were also introduced in the early 1970s. Technological breakthroughs, such as Intel's discovery of the world's first microprocessor, have ushered in a new era of innovation.

In 1977, the Atari VCS, later renamed the Atari 2600, was released, but sales were underwhelming. The problem was the high cost of the consoles, and consumers were bored of playing Pong. It only came with nine simple, low-resolution games on 2 KB cartridges, but it did feature an external ROM slot where game cartridges could be loaded, and programmers all over the world quickly realized it could build games that far excelled the console's original design. In 1980, the home conversion of Taito's arcade game Space Invaders became the system's first killer software. The VCS was a huge hit worldwide.

The Debut of PC Games:

Because of the video game boom sparked by Space Invaders, a slew of new firms and platforms popped up, resulting in market saturation. Too many gaming consoles and not enough fascinating, engaging new games to play on them finally resulted in the 1983 North American video game crash, which saw massive losses and truckloads of unpopular, low-quality titles buried in the desert to get rid of them. The game business was in desperate need of a makeover.

Home computers began to gain popularity at about the same time consoles were getting bad reviews. These new computer systems for the house were reasonably priced. They had far more powerful processors than previous console generations, allowing for more sophisticated, less predictable games. They also provided the necessary technologies for programmers to make their games using BASIC coding.

Early computers allowed more people to design their games using code, a crucial breakthrough in the history of the gaming community. They even opened the door for multiplayer gaming. When LAN networks, and then the Internet, opened up, the real innovation in gaming began. Multiplayer gaming elevates the gaming community by allowing fans to compete and engage across several computers, enhancing the social component of gaming. This crucial step paved the way for the large-scale interactive gaming that today's gamers enjoy.

Gaming on Consoles: Transition to Online Gaming:

In 1982, William von Meister presented revolutionary modem-transfer technology for the Atari 2600. Users could download software and games using their fixed telephone line and a cartridge that could be put into their Atari system with the CVC GameLine. Unfortunately, the device did not receive support from the major game manufacturers of the period, and the crash of 1983 handed it a fatal blow.

Sega, Nintendo, and Atari all tried leveraging cable providers to break into "online" gaming between 1993 and 1996, but none of them truly took off due to sluggish Internet speeds and cable provider issues. Real improvements in online gaming as we understand it today were not made until the debut of the Sega Dreamcast, the world's first Internet-ready system, in 2000. The Dreamcast came with an inbuilt 56 Kbps modem and a copy of the current PlanetWeb browser, enabling Internet-based gaming as a standard feature rather than a niche one used by a small number of people. It was a colossal flop that effectively ended Sega's console legacy.

Regardless of its failure, the Dreamcast paved the way for the Xbox and subsequent generations of consoles. The new consoles, which were released in the mid-2000s, learned from and expanded on the Dreamcast's net-centric orientation, making online functionality a vital element of the gaming industry.

Runescape's release in 2001 was a game-changer. MMORPGs allow millions of users around the world to participate, connect, and fight on the same platform. It simply demonstrated how far we had progressed in terms of games.

In the Modern Age:

Since the 2000s, Internet capabilities have skyrocketed, and computer processor technology has advanced at such breakneck speeds that each new generation of videogames, graphics, and consoles appears to outperform the preceding. People's buying habits, software updates, and interactions with other users have all changed thanks to online marketplaces like the Xbox Live Marketplace. Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) aided in the ascension of online gaming to new heights. Even before the Xbox 360 came out, online multiplayer gaming was a big component of the gaming community.

Transition to Mobile:

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Since the introduction of smartphones and app stores in 2007, gaming has undergone yet another rapid development, transforming not only how people play video games, but also bringing games into the mainstream of pop culture in ways never seen before. Over the last decade, rapid advancements in mobile technology have led to an explosion in mobile gaming.

The gaming business was once monopolized by a few firms, but in recent times, giants like Apple and Google have climbed the rankings thanks to their app store revenues from game sales. The time-killing feature of mobile gaming is so appealing to so many people that simple games like Angry Birds earned Rovio $200 million in 2012 alone, and the company surpassed two billion downloads in 2014. More complex mass multiplayer mobile games like Clash of Clans helped connect millions of players around the world via their smartphones.

What's For The Future?

Oculus, a virtual reality (VR) firm, was bought by Facebook in 2014, and its Rift headset was launched in 2016. The headset appears to be tailor-made for use in the video game industry, with the capability of allowing gamers to "live" in a dynamic, immersive 3D world. It may be possible to develop fully interactive, dynamic "worlds" for MMORPGs, in which players can wander around, engage with other players, and experience digital landscapes in a completely new way. Google bought Deep Mind in 2014; IBM bought AlchemyAPI, a key developer of deep-learning technology. Apple bought two AI companies in less than a week in October 2015. Accuracy in voice recognition technology and open-ended computer discourse are two of the fields being developed.

If the developments that have transpired over the last century are any indication, gaming in 2025 will be virtually unrecognizable from what it is today. Despite the fact that Angry Birds has become a household brand since its release in 2011, it is unlikely to be remembered in the same way as Space Invaders or Pong are. Throughout its history, gaming has seen a number of trends come and go, only to be completely superseded by another technology. The future of gaming is yet unknown, but whatever happens, will undoubtedly be interesting.

That's all for this blog, hope you enjoyed it and learned the history of video games. It’s funny isn’t it, to see how far we have come in this industry.

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