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Before computers were invented, games were a way to unwind and connect with family and friends. Games were typically played outside, for example playing tag or catching a ball. When conditions did not permit outdoor activity, indoor games included board games and puzzles. Games were fun and more importantly games were social.
With the invention of personal computers, we saw the birth of electronic games. These evolved from simple graphics to rich 3D immersive graphical games that resemble a movie. Whilst a great way to have fun, these solo games removed the social and physical aspects of traditional games. As well as costing the user time, these games also introduced a cost in terms of capital outlay because they had to initially purchase the games and continually upgrade or add on to the initial game.
As we saw the story unfold, the Internet came along and provided the fabric to stitch together the game industry. People no longer had to game in isolation, and we saw the transition from individual gaming to massive multi-player online gaming. This could be done from your own loungeroom, battling and having fun with your school peers; or large meet up style tournaments - so many opportunities for gaming to be social.
With this technological advancement the money rolled in. Online gaming became a multi-billion-dollar platform for large corporations to develop and sell games to online gamers with an ongoing monthly subscription. Gamers could also purchase in game items to enhance their experience and progress faster. Advertising companies saw the opportunity for exposure available to them and started buying digital space. This further supported the monetization of the platform for large corporations.
As the ability to monetize the platform via advertisements grew, we saw online games become free. Gamers were subjected to constant adverts as they played, but the cost to the gamer was now only their time. This became the new business model for online engagement - the games had to become more immersive and addictive to ensure gamers kept playing because without the players time, there was nowhere for advertisers to sell.