We’ve come a long, long way from Pong. 2025 will mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Atari’s classic game for home consoles, which is staggering to consider. Fifty years is a long time but when you consider how far video games have come in that time, it seems like the blink of an eye.
Video games are one area of entertainment where technological developments are readily apparent. Graphics have advanced so far since the early 2000s that leading games from those years are already being remastered for today’s discerning audiences.
The changes run deeper than just graphics though. In this article, we’ll look at four of the major ways that gaming has significantly evolved over the years.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) seemed like impossible dreams to the early game developers who initially struggled to even render 3D objects in their games. Today, these are some of the leading technologies that are shaping the future of video games.
Everyone has seen videos of fully immersed VR players being startled while too deep into their game or trying to touch things that aren’t there. There was also a major AR game craze that swept the planet several years ago. Only a few people are aware of how important AR technology is for the online casino industry.
Live casino games make it possible for players to interact with real dealers and their cards. This is possible because of the AR tech that converts video images into data. Live casino games in real-time available on different devices are one area where we are likely to see a massive jump in AR and VR tech in the coming years. It wouldn’t be surprising if live casino games became a central part of a fully VR casino experience.
Video game graphics is where it is easiest to see evolution over time. We’ve come so far from the days of 8-bit pixel graphics that they’re cool again⎯though more as an aesthetic than for actual games.
One of the most important contributors to the improvement of video game graphics is Unreal Engine. Unreal Engine is a series of computer graphics software programs that is currently in its 5th edition. They are responsible for many of the biggest advances in 3D graphics and are now able to offer nearly photorealistic backgrounds.
Video games initially had a very limited scope and players were only able to follow a limited number of predetermined paths. Side scrollers think the original Mario games are the perfect example of this. Over time, developers have begun to offer games that give players more freedom to solve objectives at their own pace and explore the world of the game.
The first game to successfully introduce an open-world map and style of play was Grand Theft Auto III in 2001. Since then, developers have consistently been working to make their worlds feel more immersive and more enjoyable to explore. When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released in 2017, critics and players alike realised that it was becoming possible to create an entire world within a game.
It meant that there could possibly be an intersection between the development of open-world gaming and an increased interest in travel and the nomadic lifestyle that we have seen in recent years. This may seem unlikely but having seen what games like Red Dead Redemption and the Zelda franchise offer, it’s easy to see how people who were previously uninterested in travel could be inspired.
Being able to play video games on the move was one of the early dreams of developers and players alike. Creating a portable console was the main goal of the major game companies during the 1980s. Many launched their own, but it was the Nintendo GameBoy that dominated the market.
Part of the GameBoy’s massive success was due to its ability to innovate and improve. Over the course of their lifetime, the consoles got smaller, colour was introduced, and the screen was improved. Nintendo continues to dominate this market⎯the Nintendo Switch is currently the leading portable console.
Some consoles, like the Sega Nomad, were unable to evolve quickly enough or capture a wider market share and were quickly forgotten (with the notable exception of the Sega Nomad’s cameo appearance in a viral dance video in 2012).
Early developers could never have foreseen the competition that hand-held consoles would face from mobile phones. The prevalence and popularity of mobile games has meant that in order to be competitive, consoles have to offer something really special.