Playing over the internet is a very popular way for people to spend a good part of their free time. Online gaming is not a new phenomenon, but it has surely evolved a lot in the last few years. It has gone a long way from the first word games played in IRC chat rooms to the 3D shooters and MMOs of today. I wonder – where will it evolve in the future?
My first contact with a high quality 3D browser game was in the early 2000s, when I had the occasion to drive a fancy sports car on Mars in a browser window. I remember how shocked I was by the incredible graphics of the game, running in a browser window. It was the beginning of a new era for me.
Until then the only internet game I played was Forsaken – a 3D FPS released by Acclaim in 1998. This game allowed its players to connect to another PC (if they knew the other computer’s IP address) over the internet and play multiplayer games. I couldn’t imagine how a browser game could be even better – but it was.
In the following years developers have released a whole bunch of browser-based games, each one with better graphics and sound, culminating (for me at least) in the 2010 release of Quake World, the browser version of the very popular Quake 3 Arena. For me (I was a huge Quake fan from the first one) it was the ultimate browser game, that I could play from wherever I wanted to.
A few years later (in 2013) I found an online game that was even better – it’s called Contract Wars, and was developed by a Russian team called AbsolutSoft. The team has managed to recreate the feeling of the CounterStrike games in a browser window, build a complete achievements and trade system into it, and allow the player to evolve. For me, again, it was a huge thing to find a game resembling, or sometimes even exceeding the quality of so many desktop games I liked before.
OK, I know, desktop games that make full use of the computer’s hardware capabilities will always have much better graphics and sounds. Yes, but they need to be installed (nowadays it’s a lengthy process, as we live in the days of Blu-ray disks), and a quick casual game is most of the times out of the question.
Today there is a game for fans of every genre out there, at least one that runs in a browser window. Players can choose a Realtime Strategy or a First Person Shooter, a puzzle or a hidden object, or even Online Progressive Jackpot Games that run in a browser window.
Where to from here, I ask. Did browser games reach the pinnacle of their evolution, or should we expect even more spectacular things to come?