The reasons why online games have become so popular are simple to understand. The origin of this surge in popularity can be traced back to the widespread availability of the Internet, but the reasons that came after that are organic. They were and still are interconnected, with each one prompting developments in the others: as the demand increases, so does the supply, and the more variety in supply and at fewer costs, the more demand.
1. Easy access
One of the main reasons why online games have become so popular is their accessibility.
Before the internet, playing digital games was only possible for those who owned or had access to a game console and those with an arcade machine somewhere close by. The internet broke this pattern.
Now everyone has access to online games anywhere and anytime, and through a variety of devices, be it a smartphone, computer, tablet, or a modern console with wifi. Not only that, but parallel to this increased access, there was also a surge in the number of online games available.
Nowadays, a simple online search in any engine will retrieve thousands of games, including variants or replicas of one game, but with different designs or features. The hard part is knowing what to choose.
2. Extensive variety
The increased popularity of online games is also heavily linked to the extensive choice that players now have. Everyone can find their cup of tea, whether it is war games, puzzle games, word games, sports simulations, casino games, or arcade games, among many other categories.
These are traditionally entertainment games that cover a wide variety of interests. There is also a second category of online games that increases this pool of variety even more: the educational ones.
These can be designed for kids and/or adults and, as the name suggests, have an educational component to them. It is now easy to find simple yet fun interactive games to help people learn math, history, foreign languages, geography, and many other subjects.
Another important reason why online games have become so popular is how affordable they are, when not free altogether.
This has broadened their appeal to people from different age groups and social-economic statuses. Playing online is no longer a luxury vetoed to many. Anyone can just go online and will quickly find a free game of their liking to play. Plus, they no longer need to carefully consider which game to invest in.
They can easily try different game developers to find the one game with the design and gameplay they want. Since most are free, the players can also switch games on the spot and quit a Mahjong puzzle, for example, to play a war game against a friend.
Online games try to broaden their appeal as much as possible, and this includes trying to make their games suitable for everyone, whether they are beginners or experts.
Online games often feature the option to choose a difficulty level, be it easy, normal, medium, or expert, according to the type of game. The ones that feature a progression (e.g. levels) are also carefully designed so that the player acquires a determined set of skills before advancing.
Many also include tutorials explaining the rules of the games, the gameplay, and/or any added difficulty to a challenge when applicable, ensuring that they are suitable for all levels of gamers.
Online games often have a bad reputation for isolating people and preventing them from interacting with others. While this can be true to a certain degree, they also have great potential to increase socialization.
The internet connects people worldwide which makes it easier for people to find others who enjoy the same games. They can find opponents to play against at any time, as well as partners to form a team, even when they are alone in their bed suffering from insomnia at 3 AM.
Online games can also be an excuse to interact with friends and family by setting up a friendly competition to check who is the best player at a certain game, sharing tips and tricks to improve their performance, or simply talking about new games each one has found, for example.
The reasons why online games have become so popular are easy to understand, even if many are not actively aware of them. Some players may even not consider themselves as such since online gaming has become a part of the daily routine of many people.
Your grandmother may deny being a player, but her trophies for winning daily Sudoku challenges on some mobile app beg to differ.
This increase in popularity was something natural and organic and it is precisely for this reason that has yet to stop its rise.