This is how online games have evolved in 20 years

From casual couch gaming to competitive online shooters and the insane amount of gambling that’s now taking place. This is how 20 years of evolution has made gaming the forefront of entertainment.

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Whether you’ve played some couch co-op games with your mates and with your clan in your favourite MMORPG, you are apart of history. Here is how you have influenced the biggest media platform on Earth.

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The advancements of gaming, specifically online games, over the past two decades has been astonishing, completely revolutionising the way in which many of us spend our free time.

In this article we look at some of the biggest trends and moments over the past 20 years that have helped to define the gaming industry. Join us on our technological trip down the memory lane…

Online Gaming

According to that ever-trusted portal of knowledge Wikipedia, online gaming started way back in 1980, which is a bold claim indeed. Millions of players around the world were not sat up until 3am playing Pac-Man online with their friends back in 1980 like they do with the likes of COD and FIFA now.

Despite what Wikipedia says, online gaming as we know it did not really take off until the mid-to-late noughties. Activision’s World of Warcraft was the first Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) to take the market in 2007.

WOW
World of Warcraft Online vanilla/classic is the most popular MMORPG ever.

The success of the title was incredible, netting Activision a reported $1 billion in revenues, but the impact that it had on the industry was more important.

World of Warcraft paved the way for other AAA titles to make the move online and indeed Activision would go on to implement the MMOG format with another title of theirs, Call of Duty.

Online Casinos

Online gambling was slightly ahead of video gaming in making the move online, something which it successfully managed in the late nineties. The tech and gambling experts of Playtech PLC were pioneers of the industry, developing the gaming platform for many online casino’s to re-shape. Launching its first online casino in 2001, the company one of the world’s largest international designer and developer of software, steering the ship for the online gambling industry.

GTA  Casino
Online casinos very popular in triple-a games and legitimate websites.

Other major companies like also 888 Casino forged the digital path for the gambling industry, releasing exclusive slots and virtual casino games to the internet back in 1997. Since then, 888 Casino have further developed their virtual software slots, roulette, blackjack, baccarat and poker games, as well as their live casino section with real dealers and pit boss using video streaming technology to create a thrilling user experience for their sleek online casino website.

In recent years, the popularity of online gambling has been further cemented by the success of the mobile market. Without the early work of companies like 888 back in the nineties, it’s hard to imagine gambling being a success online as it is now. The demand for it is so vast that that sites are releasing exclusive slots.

Battle Royal

When you think of Battle Royale games it’s hard not to immediately jump to Fortnite and Player Unknown Battle Grounds, but the format was established long before these games soared to worldwide popularity.

Survival Games, a spin on the book and film franchise The Hunger Games was implemented in Minecraft in 2012 becoming the first title to launch what we now know as a Battle Royale format.

Brendan Greene, one of the creators of PUBG took on board the principles of this game mode and used them heavily in the development of cult classic Day Z which was launched in 2013.

Greene was interested in the psychological element of Battle Royale game modes which made every encounter between players a unique and unpredictable event. Whilst Day Z and other early Battle Royale modes didn’t gain the acclaim that they perhaps should have, they did show that the game mode had legs.


PUBG (Player Unknown Battle Ground) and Fortnite were the first online games that catapulted Battle Royale game modes to worldwide stardom, so much so that almost every first-person shooter worth its salt either now has a Battle Royale mode or is considering one.

Call of Duty Warzone is just one of the titles successfully implementing a Battle Royale format now.

Mobile Gaming

In its short history gaming has been somewhat of a sexist industry in terms of the audience that it caters for. 20 years ago, the chances of a finding a decent game that specifically catered for female players was incredibly slim.

Now though, gaming offers more of an egalitarian atmosphere to players which is largely thanks to the success of mobile gaming.

RAID Shadow Legends
RAID: Shadow Legends most popular online game right now.

In the late noughties and the early 2010s, advances in mobile technology gave millions of people access to cheap and accessible games. On mobile there is almost no gender bias with a recent study showing that 49% of all mobile gamers are female.

That’s acutely different to the console platform where the bias toward male gamers is much more pronounced. The success of female oriented mobile games has opened the eyes of gaming developers around the world.

In recent years we have seen more console games openly catering for female players, something which would not have been possible without the success of mobile gaming.

Media Crossovers

In the 80s and 90s video games were viewed with disdain by the public and those who played them were generally referred to as geeks or losers. Spending the evening on your console was seen as something of a character fault and a whole host of atrocities and crimes were attributed to video games.

Something that helped to change the negative attitudes towards video gaming was the regular media crossovers that became a part of the noughties and the 2010s.

Whilst some in the media were keen to ignore the popularity of video games, Hollywood producers were not. Gaming’s popularity was too hard to ignore and producers quickly began to make TV shows and films based on popular gaming franchises.

Media crossovers like the Assassin’s Creed film helped to legitimise gaming to the general public.

The most well known of these adaptations was the Assassin’s Creed film, which was released in 2016, grossing $240 billion around the world.

There have been others of course, and with each and every media crossover the legitimacy of gaming in the eyes of the public and the media has increased. Gaming being much more mainstream now than it was 20 years ago owes much to these media crossovers.

Key Takeaways

When the cogs of virtual gaming began to turn more than 20 years ago, no one could predict how much steam it could cause. Thanks to heavy investments in the software, advancements in connection services to play with others, and highly artistic games earning movie-like status, it’s clear to see how the world of gaming has come so far.


Online gaming has gone from roleplaying in World of Warcraft to military tactics online for COD. Online casinos came from humble beginnings, but is now an interactive and well-designed platform with big wins happening every day. Games of Battle Royale have made the leap from the likes of Minecraft to the newly popular Fortnite.

The days of Snake on our Nokia mobiles have developed to the likes of Pokemon Go, attracting more female gamers and encouraging players to move with the game. The world of gaming is now so popular that movies based on games are now hitting our theatres, demonstrating gaming as a mainstream phenomenon.


There’s no denying gaming has made a huge impact on the world in many ways. The question is, where will it go next?

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