History of video games/2010-2019

Trends edit

The changing economy of games edit

Online game marketplaces like Steam became quite popular as digital distribution of computer games takes off with gamers.[1] Other major publishers enter or redouble their efforts in the market, such as the launch of EA's Origin platform in 2011,[2] the revamping of Ubisoft Uplay in 2012,[3] the release of the Bethesda Launcher in 2016,[4] and the release of the Epic Games Store in 2018.[5] There were also less standard online storefronts that gained popularity, such as the launch of the indie focused platforms Humble Bundle in 2010,[6] and itch.io in 2013.[7] In the later part of the decade, cross play between platforms begins to see more adoption.[8]

Often new game storefronts and associated customer support systems were poorly secured, leading to large breaches of gamer information.[9] Casual games reach wide audiences with digital distribution on smartphone application stores,[10] as well as on social media websites such as Facebook.[11] The new frontier of digital game storefronts also attracted criminals, who took advantage of these new platforms and associated services by exploiting policy weaknesses to resell hacked keys or launder money gained through more traditional criminal acts.[12][13]

Many games go free to play, with monetization strategies such as in app purchases proving lucrative for some developers.[14][15] Dark patterns in many games enabled by internet connectivity begin to catch attention.[16] In particular, many games, both paid and free to play, add cosmetic and "Pay to Win" microtransactions and loot boxes.[17] Loot boxes in particular are linked to gambling addictions during this time.[18] These techniques raised concerns and potentially ran afoul of gambling laws, creating friction between the industry and regulators.[19] Unofficial sites that offered services such as skin gabling proliferated during this boom of in game cosmetics.[20][21]

A lack of moderation on online storefronts lead to a number of controversial and low quality games being released.[22][23]

Some games see success on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter,[24] despite often lacking solid prototypes.[25] This also helps to revive old styles of games no longer seen as viable by major industry players.[25] At the same time, a number of high profile scams and failures shake confidence in crowdfunding as a model for video game funding.[26]

Many of the first widely available cloud gaming platforms were launched during this time. Some launches have problems, though the potential of the technology is acknowledged.[27]

The ebb and flow of sanctions on Iran during this decade helped shape their burgeoning game industry.[28][29][30] Notably, their small but hardy homegrown industry managed to compete against mostly pirated international imports for its domestic marketshare of about 20 million gamers.[28][31]

Developer treatment enters the public eye edit

This decade saw the increasing awareness of gamers of frequent poor treatment faced by video game developers in some work environments. While imperfect conditions can exist in any occupation and issues had existed in the game industry previously, this decade saw a large deterioration in relations between companies and developers.

Tactics used by companies which hurt developers during this time included misclassifying workers to dodge labor laws, expecting a cycle of long crunch times[32] with unemployment following immediately after, and creating a fear of retaliation so that employees would be reluctant to speak to the press.[33]

In late 2016 the video game industry saw its first major strike, following a breakdown of negotiations between a handful of major companies and the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), with 450 members picketing the company Insomniac Games.[32] This lead to industry concern that game developers would observe these workers demanding better and possibly unionizing as a result.[32]

Quality Assurance (QA) Testing entered the spotlight as a field where some companies were mistreating employees.[34][35] The practice of using Bug Quotas in QA testing in particular were in decline around 2019, as it created a perverse incentive which resulted in counterproductive work being done.[36]

From 2009 to 2019 game developer views on unionization shifted radically from a small percentage of developers in favor of unionization to much broader support.[37] Notably, in the United Kingdom an official trade union for video game developers was formed in 2018.[38] Some American politicians supported unionization efforts within the gaming industry.[39]

Not all companies mistreated their developers this decade. As a result of increased public awareness of these issues, companies such as Nintendo and Media Molecule use their avoidance of crunch as a symbol of ethical leadership within the video game industry.[40][41]

Player Wellbeing edit

As video game industry grew dramatically this decade,[42] interest grew in safeguarding the wellbeing of gamers.

Following industry support for gamer healthcare, the Obama Administration supported an initiative for gamers to get healthcare coverage in the United States of America from 2015 to the end of the administration's term in office in 2017.[43][44][45]

On May 25th, 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes gaming addiction as a medical disorder, though there was some contention around the issue.[46] The description of gaming addiction provided was very specific, and was only applied to those neglecting basic needs to play games for extended periods of time.[46] Research this decade also suggested that gaming may have positive effects when performed in balance with other life activities.[47]

Mobile operating systems iOS and Android focused on digital wellbeing tools in 2018.[48][49] While meant for general use, the granular settings of these tools allowed either parental or self imposed limits to be set on game time specifically.[50]

People's Republic of China opens up to consoles edit

By January 2013 it was openly rumored that the ban on the sale of video game consoles in the People's Republic of China would be lifted.[51]

On January 7th, 2014 the People's Republic of China temporarily eases their ban of video game consoles put in place in the year 2000.[52][53] The ban was permanently ended on July 25th, 2015.[54][55]

Decline of the Physical Mediums edit

As the industry shifted to online focused markets, the industry shifted away from traditional physical ones. This decade was especially transitional, as though physical games remained an important factor in the industry throughout the decade, digital games went from a small niche to the favored future of game distribution.[56] Online shops gave serious competition to physical stores, leading to large chain stores floundering by the end of the decade.[57] This also affected other games related media. Continuing from the late 2000's[58] game manuals continued to shrink and were abandoned all together in some cases.[59] Major publishers of Strategy Guides went from paper to online during this time.[60]

Automotive Gaming edit

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announces partnership with Atari for games as Easter eggs on Tesla electric cars.[61]

German automakers Audi and Mercedes-Benz both experimented with in car gaming concepts in 2019.[62][63]

Rebirth of Arcades edit

To a limited extent, Arcades saw a small revival during this time.[64] In the 2000's arcades had struggled to compete with increasingly better home gaming experiences. Recognizing that Arcades could no longer rely on the technical dominance they once did, arcades reinvented themselves. Often this meant appealing to nostalgic adults and young adults looking for a new experience with barcades.[65] Others focused on special experiences that couldn't be had at home without spending significant amounts of money, such as virtual reality, to mixed success.[66][67]

Popular Genres edit

  • Open World games
  • Survival games
  • Shooters
  • Action adventure games
  • Rougelikes
  • Platformers
  • Retro revival games
  • Walking Simulators
  • Visual Novels

Notable Cross Platform Games of the 2010s edit

2010 edit

Mass Effect 2 edit

Outcry from conservative media on the first Mass Effect lead to LGBTQ themes in Mass Effect 2 being suppressed.[68]

Read more about Mass Effect 2 on Wikipedia.

Call of Duty: Black Ops edit

This game attracted media attention for it's secret level featuring John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castro cooperatively fighting against zombies in the Pentagon.[69]

Read more about Call of Duty: Black Ops on Wikipedia.

Later edit

The Witcher 3 edit

Final Fantasy XV edit

Released in 2016 Final Fantasy XV is known for it's well written characters and real time combat system.[70] Final Fantasy XV is also known for the extensive care which was taken in modeling it's in game food.[71]

2010 edit

American Marines playing a video game tournament in Afghanistan in 2010.

eInk games edit

A few makers of eInk based ebook readers experiment with simple games that play well with the slow refresh displays used on these devices, though the market for such games quickly peters out.[72]

2011 edit

A GameStop in San Francisco in 2010. The 2011 ruling of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association lifted previous sales restrictions in the state of California.[73]

Video Games as Speech edit

In 2011 the United States Supreme Court rules video games are protected speech under the First Amendment of the United States constitution.[73] This overruled state legislation restricting the purchase of games based on game content.[73] Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion, which was backed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Anthony Kennedy.[74][75]

Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Stephen Breyer dissented in this case.[74] Justice Stephen Breyer cited court rulings allowing similar prohibitions on sexual content,[74] while Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that a constitutional right to free speech does not fully apply when speaking to youth.[76][74] Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the opinion given by Justice Clarence Thomas,[74] noting that if such a position was taken, it would also lead to the erosion of the religious and political freedoms of youth in areas outside video games.[77] Thus this case not only strengthened civil liberties in the United States of America as it relates to video games, it helped set a much broader precedent supporting general freedom of speech by youth.

2012 edit

People playing a games in a library in 2012.

Video Games as Artwork edit

In November 2012 the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City debuted an applied design exhibition of 14 noteworthy video games.[78][79] This prompted some backlash by those who did not consider video games to be artwork.[80]

Satellite technology in Games edit

The 2012 release of Super Snowcross by EA (Electronic Arts) capitalizes on the public data provided by the ASTER sensor of the NASA earth observational satellite Terra to make realistic game maps based on real world locations based on data collected by the satellite, improving realism by replacing earlier randomly generated terrain.[81][82]

2013 edit

Microconsoles: Boom & Bust edit

A number of crowdfunded microconsoles are launched this year, with hopes of finding a new approach to the console industry that was more open and inexpensive then what traditional consoles offered.[83] Several years later it becomes clear that none of the early microconsoles were long lived successes,[84][85][86] though the boom did create an interesting period of gaming history.

Eighth Generation of Game Consoles edit

2013 saw the eighth generation of game consoles begin in earnest.

2014 edit

Digital catches Physical edit

In 2014 digital sales of games roughly reach parity with physical sales of games.[87] The convenience of digital games was especially resonant with owners of portable devices, with many gamers growing accustomed to not needing to carry multiple cartridges with them in addition to the system itself.[88]

Twitch Plays Pokémon edit

An experimental crowed source play through of the GameBoy game Pokémon Red leads 35,000 collective players to beat the game in 16 days.[89] The immense internet sensation created by Twitch Plays Pokémon spurs other creators to create more interactive content on streaming platforms such as Twitch.[90][91]

2015 edit

A EB Games game shop in 2015

Kojima & Konami edit

In early 2015 Konami and a well known then Konami employee Hdieo Kojima had a falling out, resulting in Kojima going independent.[92]

Konami also attempted to remove independent journalistic coverage of the event.[93][94] This backfired, as this action attracted the attention of larger media outlets.[95]

Death of Satoru Iwata edit

Satoru Iwata, CEO of Nintendo, passes away at the age of 55, shocking the industry and resulting in a number of tributes made.[96][97][98] Respects were paid across the industry, including from people working at rival companies who respected the impact and character of Iwata.[99][100]

2017 edit

Year of Innovation edit

2017 is noted for a number of high quality or mold breaking games releasing that year, like Breath of the Wild, Cuphead, Nier: Automata, Sonic Mania, Gravity Rush 2, Pyre, and Super Mario Odyssey.[101][102] Nier: Automata was noted for it's nihilistic tone.[103][104]

2017 also saw the release of new ways of gaming. The Nintendo Switch was released this year as the first popular hybrid game console, combining a portable console and a home console in one unit.[105] Netflix tested out interactive movies this year.[106]

End of Miiverse edit

On November 8th, 2017 the Miiverse social networking service is shuttered.[107] Miiverse had been Nintendo's gaming social network since 2012.[107] An unofficial community archive of Miiverse content was made before the shutdown occurred.[108]

Blockchain Mania edit

In 2017 blockchain technology saw significant hype.[109] Later in 2017 the early blockchain game Cryptokitties is released, crowding the Ethereum network with over one million USD worth of transactions made after a few days.[110][111]

2018 edit

Rapper Soulja Boy promoting Bandai Namco's JUMP FORCE at E3 2018.

Celebrities in Gaming edit

2018 saw several celebrities attempt to get involved in the gaming industry, primarily by leveraging their name or brand to partner with existing manufacturers.

Rapper Soulja Boy briefly launches a console line, with Soulja Boy claiming 5 million consoles sold before withdrawing from the market.[112][113] Consoles were existing models, such as the Chinese Fuze microconsole.[114]

Telltale Games edit

In September 2018, noted studio Telltale Games abruptly collapses.[115] Following a failure to raise needed funding, most employees are fired and given 30 minutes to leave.[116] Inability to retain talented employees, poor management, dated technology, and increasing competition from other studios are common factors cited in the collapse of the studio.[117][118]

2019 edit

Scapegoating games edit

In the United States, politicians consider a ban on violent games, blaming violent video games for recent mass shootings despite little evidence linking the two together.[119][120][121]

In response to the shootings some stores and television networks reduced or eliminated advertisements for violent video games.[122][123][124] Additionally, lawmakers in Pennsylvania revived discussions on a 10% tax on mature rated games in response to the shootings.[125][126]

"We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome video games that are now commonplace" - President Donald Trump, Speech in August 2019.[127][128]

Auto chess edit

2019 saw the release of a number of games release in the new genre Auto Chess.[129]

Runescape edit

A prolonged power outage in Venezuela leads to an economic shock in the MMORPG Runescape.[130]

2010's gaming gallery edit

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