Understanding Video Games text-book
Online games

Date posted: May 14, 2006
Updated: May 16, 2006

Online gaming is by no means a new phenomenon. For some researchers, however, the era of online games started with the release of Doom and it is still quite normal to find description stating this as a fact.

Doom was part of the latest generation of online games. Before it had been two other eras with games like Air Warrior, Utopia, MUD1, and Empire. The newest generation of online games grew out of increasing Internet access and new network technologies in general.

The option to play on local networks and later by modem was not an integrated part of Doom but more of a spin-off-option. This still holds true for the titles that are launched today. One pressing problem with online games today is that everyone wants to make their game playable online while neglecting to apply sufficient resources.

We see the first signs of a change with games like Anarchy Online and WWW II Online both of which are pure online games.
These two games quite well illustrate the current challenge: Know your target group, be prepared for growth and do not launch incomplete games. WWW II Online is probably one of the most bug-ridden games ever released. Gamers had to download patches immediately after they had bought the game. These patches were not small - in fact some of them approached 70 MB in size, which with anything but flat-rate broadband will be nightmarish to download - and even with broadband it is quite a mouthful.

Some of the problems can be highlighted by studying history, which shows a surprisingly cyclical nature of games. It seems almost comical that the same mistakes are repeated again and again. But for online gamers and those who see a great potential in them there is hardly a lot to laugh at. The current games industry is making things very hard for the players and are scaring off a lot potential paying customers.
Air Warrior 3

Jessica Mulligan is a part of online gaming industry history and has tried to reconstruct it (e.g. her History of online gaming). This is also a great place to get more information about the history of online gaming.

The market is expanding heavily. Analysts are predicting that online gaming by 2004, will hit the revenue below:

Datamonitor: $5.0 billion
IDC: $1.7 billion
Wedbush Morgan Securities: $1.5 billion
DFC Intelligence: $1.2 billion

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