Even by conservative estimates, there are currently over 1 billion people worldwide who engage in some form of online gaming on a regular basis, ranging from avid Fortnite fans to online casino players. If you’re even reading this then chances are high that you’ve played some form of online game in the past 24 hours.
While they may be a regular part of your life, how often do you think about the technology that enables them to exist? From development to production to connectivity and maintenance, an online game is a highly sophisticated product that often requires dozens of skilled specialists and heaps of expensive technology to run smoothly.
If you’re wondering how your favourite online game is able to exist, read on to find out all about the technology that powers it.
Many of the more complex online games, such as those that run exclusively on consoles, rely on a stack of hardware in order to keep on running. Games on devices such as the Xbox One and Wii use powerful CPUs, graphics cards, vast storage drives, and more in order to allow for the smooth running of games like GTA V Online and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
More importantly for online games, at least one central server is required to allow for a community of gamers to access the game from anywhere in the world. Companies such as Rockstar spend millions every year renting and purchasing vast servers in order to keep their millions of regular players satisfied, and that’s just the beginning.
Equally as important as hardware infrastructure is the software used in the development process to bring an online game to live. Most online games are created using Python or C++ programming languages, meaning that there is a huge demand for highly-skilled developers across all sections of the industry. A vast suite of software products is also standard for even the most basic online game, with Visual Studio, Photoshop, ZBrush, and 3DS Max all being software staples.
The trickiest part of the software in online gaming is connectivity. How do you keep large numbers of gamers connected with each other from anywhere in the world? One example is within the online casino industry, where players regularly tune into live casino games with actual dealers. Those who join live casino games likely don’t realise that a sophisticated network of streaming software is required to ensure that all of the gaming takes place in real time, as well as OCR for the software to read the cards and RFID tech. Similarly, encryption software is needed for real-money online games to ensure that everyone’s deposits and jackpots are sufficiently protected.
Emerging technology is also placing greater demands on online gaming. The advent of VR online gaming means that developers are now racing to ensure that all of their releases are VR ready. Similarly, the popularity of mass online gaming stream platforms such as Twitch has prompted developers to consider how they need to adapt their games to reach much wider audiences than ever before.
The increasing capabilities of smartphone technology mean that people expect much more from mobile games than they did previously and that developers have to adapt to keep up. The gaming industry is undergoing something of a technological arms race at the moment, and only the most well-equipped companies will thrive.