Updated: November 9, 2021 by Exotic Irfan
The last couple of decades have yielded multiple watershed moments for the gaming industry, both online and offline. As gaming technologies evolve at a rapid pace, alongside the vast proliferation of broadband and fiber-optic connectivity and smartphones, innovation within the gaming industry is occurring faster than ever in the post-Millennium era.
Below, we explore a quintet of innovations that have characterized many subsectors of the gaming industry. These advancements have taken gaming to new, immersive heights that few could have anticipated before the turn of the Millennium.
The Biggest Gaming Innovations
1) Responsive mobile gaming
One of the biggest developments in the world of casual gaming was the emergence of fully responsive mobile gaming. As smartphone and tablet devices inched their way into the mainstream and HTML5 technology was warmly embraced by game developers, casual game titles soon became the norm across iOS, Android, and even Windows mobile devices. HTML5 has also enabled browser-based low MB games that don’t require significant storage to be installed on devices. The fact that people can game on mobiles instead of consoles and desktop PCs has been a major innovation, enabling people to game casually in bed, on the early morning commute or literally anywhere they wish.
The Entertainment Software Association confirmed that the vast majority (93%) of households in the US alone owned a smartphone, with half of these consumers already playing casual games on their devices.
2) The emergence of microtransactions on consoles
One of the biggest subsectors to grow in the world of online and console gaming is the freemium model. Free games that are monetized through in-game payments and microtransactions to unlock features and benefits have become a huge part of today’s gaming culture. Although some countries have taken a rather dim view of “loot box” systems, they still exist today and offer a cost-effective point of entry for start-up gaming developers. According to Yahoo, the global online microtransaction market in gaming is expected to reach a value of $51bn by 2025, up from $33.4bn in 2020.
3) Progressive online slot jackpots
The evolution of progressive jackpots is a particularly interesting topic for iGamers new and old. It’s a concept that dates to the pre-Millennium era of gaming when land-based casino resorts embraced these local network games which created multi-million-dollar payouts for lucky players entirely at random. The Megabucks slot was the first to employ a progressive jackpot. IGT was the brains behind the operation, with brick-and-mortar casinos agreeing to multiple linked Megabucks machines – each of which committed a tiny percentage of every bet on the reels towards the progressive jackpot that could be triggered during any base game spin.
More recently, online operators have developed fully responsive online versions, many of whom have sought to create more certainty and immediacy surrounding their progressive jackpots. The addition of a rising ‘Daily’ jackpot that’s guaranteed to drop every day is now a regular addition alongside larger conventional progressives that can payout at any time. It’s a clever feature that attracts players to daily progressives in the knowledge that they could be the ones to win the big payout on any given day.
4) Integrated live streaming platforms
Competitive gaming (eSports) has become a huge market in recent years. This is due in no small part to the integration of live streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube that have given gaming vloggers an opportunity to simultaneously showcase their skills and personalities. It has got to the point that some gaming enthusiasts prefer to watch live streams of others playing their favorite games instead of playing them themselves.
Live streaming has also given newbies an opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade in all kinds of gaming environments, from massively multiplayer online (MMO) games to first-person shooters and real-time simulation games.
5) Virtual reality (VR) gaming environments
In 2012, VR gaming was only a twinkle in the eye of the most passionate gamer. However, Palmer Lucky’s successful Oculus VR prototypes demonstrated the possibilities for virtual gaming environments. Oculus was eventually acquired by Facebook in a $2bn deal, as the world’s leading social network attempts to invest in a virtual future.
Although VR games have failed to reach the mainstream – due largely to the expense of VR headsets themselves – Facebook’s passion for a ‘metaverse’ will surely usher in a new era of virtual gaming where friends and family can convene together without being physically connected.