Then and Now: The Growth of the Online Gaming Market
By the end of 2018, the online gaming market is expected to peak at a staggering total of $56.05 billion
. This is more than even Disney managed to turnover in 2016, while it marks and incredible period of growth that first began after the great recession.
In fact, the value of the online gaming market will have more than doubled in less than a decade by the time 2018 has come to an end. This incredible rate of growth augers well for the future, particularly with virtual reality (VR) and the emergence of photorealistic graphics likely to deliver enhanced gameplay over time.
This growth does little to tell us where the market has come from, however, or the struggles it has faced in attempting to breach the mainstream. So, here is a brief look at the history of online gaming and its evolution throughout the year
From Humble Beginnings: The 1950s and Beyond
While online gaming first entered the mainstream with the advent of Doom and Warcraft in the mid-1990s (following the emergence of Internet connectivity), the origins of the market can be traced back to the 1950s. After all, it was during this time that the first interactive game was created for computers, complete with cathode ray tubes for the display and a simple, gaming pattern.
This inspired further research in the 1960s, when MIT students developed an interactive, dual plater game called Space War
that could be accessed across a primitive network. This lay the platform for the type of online games that we see today, from first-person shooters to table tennis and simulated fruit machines.
The Rise of the Online Casino: Heralding a Huge Boost for the Market
If there is one engine that drives growth in the online gaming market in 2017, it is the virtual casino sector. This makes a huge contribution to the market's revenue, with its impact having increased incrementally since the first, rudimentary laws were passed in Antigua and Barbuda during 1994.
By 1995, Microgaming and Cryptologic had created the first gambling software packages and encrypted communication protocols respectively. These developments lay the foundations for operators to market games and casino experiences in a safe and interactive environment, with the first ever real-money wager taking place late in 1996.
Peaks, Troughs and Evolution: How Online Gaming Became a Multi-billion Dollar Industry
As online casinos have continued to drive growth, the virtual gaming market as a whole has experienced numerous peaks and troughs. The most noticeable blow came during 2006, when U.S. lawmakers passed the so-called Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which made it illegal for banks and credit companies to process financial transactions associate with online gaming.
More stringent regulation and the introduction of more secure, 128-bit encrypted websites helped the market to overcome this setback, however, while growth elsewhere in the world ensured that virtual gambling alone generated an estimated $21 billion
in 2008. From this point on, virtual gambling and
gaming sites have enjoyed continued growth, providing a diversity of immersive titles within a safe, accessible and secure environment.
These growth trends have continued at pace, while the online casino market remains the key driver of virtual gaming in 2017. With several U.S. states also proposing to legalise online gambling this year, the market appears to have come full circle and it likely to achieve even further growth in the future.