Ways That The Internet Has Changed The Video Game Industry
With the creation of the internet came the first ever seen 'pay to play' subscription games that allowed players to play certain games only available online. Internet providers like AOL had the option of letting subscribers play online games by charging them a fee either by the minute or by the hour. However due to how dial up service functioned in the past many people have never played these games because of how expensive the fee was.
Now days the presence of the internet has caused the creation of a few of the major 'megatrends' in the gaming industry as well as a few changes as to what liberties designers can take with their games. A megatrend in the gaming industry is when the industry as a whole moves toward having game function in a certain way.
A few years ago if a game didn't have some kind of multiplayer aspect to it that was alright, and in fact normal. Today the first of the few big megatrends is multi player gameplay. For a few years now it's been the industry norm for video games to have both single player and multi player mode and if they don't have multi player they are often met with critisizm.
The second megatrend that the gaming industry is going through due to the internet is downloadable content, or as some in the industry prefer to call it, the Electronic Distribution Initiative (EDI).
The EDI has changed the industry in a few ways. Most notably people no longer need to leave the comfort of their homes to buy some games but from the industry prospective it's opened up other doors for developers by allowing casual games, downloadable content, and a way for up and coming game designers to be able to publish themselves in a less expensive manner.
The EDI has allowed for a new genre of games, casual games, to come onto the stage. A casual game is a game that does not require a large time commitment to get good at the game or to progress by having a simple required skillset and very little time required to progress. The player can sit down, play for an hour or so, and then stop.
Where they might not have received much attention at first, for now casual games seem to make up a strong portion of the downloadable content on the Playstation Network Store. We've all played casual games and they've been around for a long time. Solitare? Minesweeper? Except now there is more of a developing industry for them since the EDI has provided an easy way for them to be paid for and distributed.
Downloadable content is also a relativley new trend in the gaming industry that is taking a firm hold by allowing players the choice of either being content with their game as it is, or downloading additional content that can include more story, multiplayer maps, characters, weapons and many other things to further expand upon the game. These addons can range anywhere from a single US dollar to upwards of $15 depending on the game and what is in the addon being purchased.
Though the EDI is seeing the most mainstream support of aiding up and coming developers it was by no means the first to do it. There have been many engines in the past such as the Unreal Engine, RPG Maker, and (as far as I know) every Blizzard game that allow potential game designers to sit down and use an already existing toolset to create their own games.
With the EDI, now not only are these becoming more commonly included in games like Halo and Little Big Planet, but the EDI offers an easy way for the creations to be shared with fellow gamers.
With the internet comes web sites, along with web sites the development of chat rooms and forums came forth and from that, game designers began to include web sites connected to the online portion of their games to form online communities where players could socialize and interact with other people that play the game with them.
Now it's practically standard for most games to have an online community like Halo and Resistance however with the choice of having a community comes a major choice of weather or not it will be moderated. The unfortunate side effect of socialization online is that the portion of the brain responsible for inhibiting peoples rude behavior inhibits a lot less when there is no face to face interaction as well as little to no consequences for what is said and done.
Through the course of time many companies simply choose to take down their community websites instead of spending the resources needed to keep the user base acting in a friendly and courteous manner, but many like the Resistance community implement punishments for bad behavior as well as a volunteer force of moderators to help flag forum posts that are against the rules.
Almost everyone has heard of World of Warcraft and this is a game that falls into the MMO category. Put simply this kind of game would be impossible without the internet so it of course makes sense to include a small bit about it.
For those that don't know an MMO is a massive multiplayer online game. There are a few differing types but RPG's (role playing games, NOT rocket propelled grenades) tend to be the most common.The common features amongst MMo games is that they allow players to regularly interact with other people playing the game and offer very little if any options to play the game by yourself.The design behind these games is ment to be a massive social gaming experience.
These games are almost an accumulation of all of the ways that the internet has effected the gaming industry in that they have active communities, regularly update content and fix bugs using content patches, and of course, allow players to have a massive multiplayer experience.
Every MMO needs a way to make money to keep itself alive weather it be by subscription or from microtransactions. But this income helps to pay for community management, new content, bandwith, server maintenance, so on so forth you get the idea.