There’s no arguing the fact that home broadband has changed our lives forever. Growing internet speeds allow us to seamlessly connect with friends, order our weekly shopping and stream our favourite TV shows all at the same time. Perhaps more importantly, these improved broadband connections have revolutionised the way we play video games.
The days of Pong, Space Invaders and Galaga now seem nothing more than a distant memory, with modern video games now swathed in glorious HD graphics and boasting truly immersive gameplay features. In fact, even recent classics, such as Super Mario and Crash Bandicoot, now seem incredibly out-dated when compared to the jaw-dropping innovation of next-gen consoles.
However, although these technological advances have certainly made a significant impact, nothing has changed the gaming industry more than the rise of modern broadband. In fact, the way we play, purchase and experience video games will probably never be the same again. But why?
While older video games would typically involve sitting alone in a dark room for hours on end, fast broadband speeds now allow us to play online with our friends. In fact, online gaming has now arguably overtaken the traditional single-player experiences we used to love so dearly, with Fortnite alone currently racking up around 3.4 million concurrent players.
Of course, online gaming is certainly nothing new, but growing internet speeds are continuing to improve the experience; allowing us to play in larger lobbies, with more friends, while keeping any frustrating lag to a minimum. Instead of frantically trying to beat that final boss, many gamers are now preferring to hop online to play with (and against) other people around the world.
When you’ve got a match lobby including multiple players from Brazil, Australia and the UK—and still experience seamless gameplay—this should be a pretty clear indication of just how far broadband has come in recent times.
Downloadable Games and Microtransactions
Despite still being used on the PS Vita and an array of Nintendo consoles, the ROM cartridge is finally on its way out. In fact, even the more modern disc formats are dying a slow and painful death, with well over a third of gamers now preferring to download their games directly from an online store. Although the majority of console players still prefer to buy a physical copy, the number of digital downloads is growing by the day.
With a fast broadband connection in place, players can have their brand-new game downloaded in just a matter of moments, providing them with a much more convenient purchase method which lets them start playing right away. In addition, a significant number of online games now feature “microtransactions”, with the likes of Fortnite, Call of Duty and FIFA now allowing players to spend more of their money on additional extras. Even recent single player games, such as PS4’s hugely-popular Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn titles, offered extra downloadable content and gave players the option of expanding the story.
Due to the way we now consume and purchase content through the internet, gaming developers are able to extend the life of their releases and keep players glued to them for as long as possible.
Without question, the rise of live streaming provides the biggest change to the world of gaming. Not content with simply playing their favourite games, millions of players are now streaming their gaming adventures for others to watch.
However, for many gamers, this is much more than a simple pass-time. Despite only starting around 5 years ago, Twitch (a leading streaming service) currently clocks 140 million unique monthly viewers, while there’s an average of 2.2 million streamers over the same time period. Of course, since their audiences are so massive, the more popular streamers can actually make a living out of playing video games every day.
The sense of community surrounding these streaming services is what keeps viewers and broadcasters hooked, but you’ll need super-fast download and upload speeds if you want to really make the most of the experience. After all, there’s nothing worse than a blurred video feed or lagging gameplay.
Due to the competitive nature of online gaming, the rise of the eSports scene could be considered something of an inevitability. Games such as FIFA, Overwatch and Fortnite offer absolutely massive prize pools, bringing the best online gamers together in vast arenas and pitting them against one another. In fact, FIFA eSports have become so popular, you can even catch some of the events live on Sky Sports, while eSports tournaments always pull in high viewing figures across social media platforms.
The gaming industry is continuing to grow and evolve, becoming more competitive and immersive than ever before—and broadband internet has played a pivotal role in its rapid evolution.