Remember when you saved up all your pocket money for weeks to buy the latest cool game? Traditional offline games can be expensive, but since the advent of broadband internet and flash, online browser-based games are quickly becoming a free and fun alternative. This article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of online formats to try to establish whether online games have killed traditional retail games.
An online game is a game played over the internet. Online games can range from simple text based games to games incorporating complex graphics and virtual worlds populated by many players simultaneously. Many online games have associated online communities, making them a form of social activity beyond single player games.
As the World Wide Web developed and browsers became more sophisticated, people started to create browser games that used a web browser as a client. The rising popularity of Flash and Java led to an Internet revolution where websites could utilize streaming video, audio, and a whole new set of user interactivity, and this revolution paved the way for sites to offer games to web surfers.
Whilst the major online games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI and Lineage II charge a monthly fee to subscribe to their services, the popularity of smaller, simpler and free online flash games can’t be ignored.
Browser-based games are very popular amongst the younger generation of online gamers, and even older gamers who have played all types of games are beginning to see the benefits of a quick-fix online game rather than devoting hours and hours to cracking one game at a time. Online games have much shorter playing times, and there is such a great variety of game types that hours can be passed before boredom and frustration kicks in.
What about graphics you say? admittedly, the graphic beauty and complexity of offline games would beat most browser based games hands down, but as browser technology develops, and new techniques such as AJAX are used to develop better interactions, the difference won’t be so great. One of the great things about the restrictions in graphic technology means that game designers have to return to the basics – focusing on gameplay and initiative rather than flashy games that are more style than substance.
The technology developments of the past 5 years have also allowed many more smaller scale game builders to promote their products online, thereby allowing many more titles to break through than what would happen in the traditional retailing formats.