The gaming industry is not always so predictable. Sometimes the most popular genres will fall by the wayside, other times new genres will arrive seemingly out of nowhere to attain worldwide superstardom. Although online casinos have always had a base level of interest and support, the industry has itself been through some of these of tumultuous times over the years.
Out of professional interest, as well as in an attempt to understand where they sit in the greater gaming industry, we want to take a look at what made online casinos so initially popular only for them to see somewhat of a dip before again rising to the multinational powerhouse they are today.
In the Early Days
Those among our readers old enough to have experienced the early days of the internet are probably just like us – nostalgic for what was, at the time, the most amazing thing we had ever seen. Looking back today we all know just how limited this experience was, but the charm of early web pages, stretched gifs, and awful formatting is still undeniable. Limited in both bandwidth and processing power, these systems were inevitable, and their downstream effect on the types of online games available was profound.
In simple terms, any games hosted online had to be very basic, that was just the reality of online gaming in early to mid-90’s. This meant that while there were major games released on PCs which could run reasonably over the internet, internet games like those created in flash and hosted on browsers were hilariously uncomplicated.
As a result, there were really only a few types of games which were well suited to this environment. These were games that placed more emphasis on social activity or strategy over action, and this is where classic real-life games found their footing. Chess was a big one here, as was checkers, as these had no need for powerful computers or expansive bandwidth. Among these most suited, as you can no doubt guess, were online casino games.
Slots, poker, roulette, and so many other long-loved classics could be recreated well on even the most limited online browsers. As players were limited in choice, and these games had already proven their popularity over decades or even centuries, it makes sense that they would end up as some of the most popular of the era.
Waning Over Time
As technology improved, we were no longer limited to such simple designs. As with any burgeoning industry, online games, especially those based in browsers, claimed their place as the hot new thing. Stick-based games like those hosted at Stickdeath (remember that site?) or City Jumper proved huge hits, with gimmick and fun games like Spank the Monkey also finding a place in the spotlight.
This success and popularity were matched by the development of regular PC games, as well as the entry of console gaming into the online sphere. At this point computers and console gaming had gone from fringe curiosity to dominating market force, meaning that the market had become increasingly flooded with competition.
Back Into Mainstream Success
The thing about classic games is that they are classics for a reason, and while they may fall by the wayside as players favor the latest craze, their popularity is always in the background ready to regain their time in the sun. This was the case for online casinos, though their base appeal was far from the only reason that the industry saw such a strong recovery.
Not content to sit on its laurels, the online casino industry had itself evolved and adapted many of the more popular aspects of gaming and gamification into their core systems. Improved graphics and expanded gameplay helped a great deal here, as did the now almost mandatory welcome offers illustrated by the likes of Planet 7 casino bonuses. Players had more reasons to come, they had more reasons to stay and they had an ease of access which was never before possible.
Mobile phones were a huge help in this area specifically. While these started out just as limited as early PC online gaming efforts, the advent and popularity of smartphones allowed expansion on a rapid and unprecedented scale. Almost everybody has one today, and the power, connectivity, and versatility allow gaming on the go on an entirely new level.
As we head into the age of almost total worldwide WiFi access, alongside the popularization of augmented and virtual reality, we have to wonder exactly where this integration with online casinos could go. Playing games on online casinos is already much more convenient than in real casinos, after all, so by adding the social aspect back into the equation with AR and VR we could see a huge exodus from traditional to online casino systems.
Whatever the case, we’d put money on online casinos sticking it out on the mainstream gaming stage from this point on – and we’re very curious to see where they could go next.