The Evolution of Online Gaming
Technology has been the driving force of online gaming since the industry was formed. Over the last two decades, online gaming has changed with technological advancements.
In the last ten, multi-player games have become a core focus of the industry. There used to be a time when the only way you could play with someone else is through consoles. Today, you can game with friends from all over the world. Gaming has become part of the popular culture and almost everyone with a smartphone enjoys having fun playing online games.
Born in 1994
The first online casino went live in 1994. UK-based software developer Microgaming was the first company to develop an online casino game. It launched an online casino later in the year and made it available to players around the world.
At the time, laws about online gambling were nearly non-existent. The Caribbean island of Isle of Man was the first jurisdiction to offer an online casino license. The island remained the only regulator for more than one year until the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was formed in 1996.
Microgaming released a variety of card games in 1995, including the roulette, blackjack, and poker. The company enjoyed monotony for a while, serving almost all gambling sites that launched in the next few years.
Sprouted in the Late 1990s
Two years after Microgaming launched its first casino game, more than 200 websites were launched. Most of them didn’t have games to provide and scrambled for Microgaming’s games. The developer quickly tapped into the growing market, launching all sorts of games.
At the same time, Swiss-based developer NetEnt was launched with the goal to challenge Microgaming. Its first games were slots and table games. However, the company had some unique games. It introduced live dealers and games with progressive jackpots.
In 1999, the first multiplayer game was launched. The US attempted to ban online gaming, but the law fell flat. Players continued to join gambling websites, especially on non-US based platforms. Australia banned gambling in 2000 but it became difficult to regulate gambling platforms.
A $4.5 Billion Industry by 2002
Less than one decade since it was launched, the online gaming industry was valued at more than $4.5 billion. Just four years before that, the industry has struggled to reach $1 billion. More countries introduced legislative measures but the industry continued to grow. More than 8 million were participating in online gaming by 2002 and progressive jackpots had peaked above $400,000.
Continued Success in the 2000s
The 2000s witnessed a series of regulations around the world. The UK and Malta were the first countries to enforce gaming measures in Europe. The rest of Europe remained conservative about online gaming until the late 2000s.
Between 2005 and 2010, hundreds of online casinos were launched. Microgaming and NetEnt were no longer the only developers. Competition increased, driving gambling sites to be innovative, fair and transparent. The high competition also helped improve customer services as companies competed for players.
Bonus programs became a thing during that period. As companies struggled to increase their reach, they started offering players free spins for multiple reasons. New members were welcomed with free spins and had their first deposits matched. Loyal gamers earned lots of free spins while the holidays were marked by even more bonuses.
Today, every online casino worth its salt runs a variety of bonus programs. There are many new slot sites with free sign up bonus. Dozens more card game sites are launched on a weekly basis. Irrespective of what games you wish to play online, expect to find a platform willing to welcome you with a bonus.
Although technology is much improved in 2018 than it was in the 2000s, many online casinos still use the technology developed during that period. In the 1990s, most developers made 2D, simple graphics slots. In the 2000s, the graphics improved. Developers started to pay attention to soundtracks, , and the storylines.
The most innovative developers started making games influenced by popular cultures. In a bid to take online gambling mainstream, programmers shifted away from generic games. They began to develop sports-inspired games to attract sports fans. Popular films and TV shows were turned into slots. Skill-based games increased in popularity while online competitions intensified.
In the last one decade, technology has become such influential to the industry that online casino developers have become scarce. In fact, most platforms only move to a specific country if there is enough talent to handle their programs. Some universities have started degrees related to developing casino games. But the demand for talented programmers is still not yet matched.
Inter-Relations with Video Games and Sports Betting
Online gaming is a huge industry. And while online video gaming and sports betting are often counted as different industries, they are part of the online gaming sector. Sports betting, in particular, has been growing steadily alongside video gaming and casino games.
The first bookie site was launched in 1996, the same year many online casinos were launched. In the following one decade, a slew of platforms were launched. Horseracing and football were the main gambled sports. Most of the betting sites were based in the UK as the US had a conservative attitude towards the industry.
The Modern Era
The modern era of online gaming is much bigger and better than ever before. The industry is worth $51.96 billion. There are thousands of gambling sites and tens of millions who consider themselves gamers.
The technology in online gaming is much bigger and there are more countries with lenient gaming rules. The number of developers is much bigger and the industry is more competitive. Compared to the 2000s, the last one decades has been about multiplayer games. Developers have also been investing in games that interest millennials, noting that the generation that loves slots is decreasing.
The online gaming industry is forecasted to reach $60 billion by 2020. Two decades ago, the industry was worth barely $1 billion. The sporadic growth is accredited to technological advancements, tough competition, and innovativeness among developers.