The Incredible Advances in Online Gaming Technology

Video games have undergone dramatic technological advancements over the years. Nowhere is this more evident than online gaming where multiplayer functionality and live streaming technology allow for fully immersive gaming interactions. Players can now ‘exist’ in a virtual space, unconstrained by geographic, spatial, and corporeal limitations. A smorgasbord of MMORPG games (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Minecraft, and Rocket League are cases in point. Fully integrated AI technology serves players well, thanks to sophisticated cognitive in-game processes, deep learning, and engaging gameplay.

Online gaming has witnessed the most dramatic growth over time. Many of the world’s top gaming companies like Blizzard Entertainment boast millions of paying subscribers, each of which is connected to the World Wide Web, a.k.a. the gaming universe. Such is the nature of online gaming realism, that simulated game technologies mimic reality in every sense of the word. The levels of sophistication are such that law enforcement, military, airlines, and theme parks now use AI gaming software and hardware to create integrated audio-visual experiences. Players are now being introduced to virtual reality gaming and augmented reality gaming where they can fuse fiction and fantasy on a third dimensional platform.

What Constructs are Driving the Technology Behind Online Gaming?

Online Gaming
Source: Soumil Kumar

3D functionality is far superior to 2D in so many ways. Modern-day gaming is more appealing, engaging, and interactive than ever before. Enhancements with audio-visual components are equally notable. We have seen dramatic advances in the way that texture, color, shading, hues, sprites and hardware upgrades have taken place. The processing power of today’s online games is trailblazing. As for the hardware and software configurations, it is clear that mobile functionality is all the rage. HD audio-visuals on mobile are where it’s at – Android and iOS gaming apps.

iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android smartphones and tablets are the new gold standard. People want to play on the go, and their wishes have been granted. Gaming developers across the spectrum, from sports games to combat games, from bingo to online casino, and well beyond, have all made the switch to mobile-ready gaming. The most notable changes driving the technological advancements in online gaming are rooted in constructs including portability, virtual reality, augmented reality, graphics, and uninterrupted streaming functionality.

Such is the fantastic realism we can now enjoy in a virtual sense that 4K HDR images areblending fantasy and reality in an amazing way. The unprecedented advances in graphics processing power are off the charts, and this all leads to a greater demand for multiplayer functionality, interactivity, and online gameplay. Mobile is outpacing PC and console as the fastest growing component of the online gaming arena. The Google Play Store and the App Store are testament to that. Pokémon Go was a global sensation, and this augmented reality gaming simulator was fully mobile-based. It’s hard to nail down the state of online gaming at any time since it is a dynamic industry, evolving at a rate of knots. Fortunately, we can still derive an understanding of the technology behind online gaming, particularly live streaming technology that allows for interactive real-time games.

Case Study: Live Streaming Online Casino Games

Online Casino Games
Source: Jonathan Peterrsson

The online casino case study is particularly interesting. To gain a better understanding of this industry, we need to wind the clocks back to the 1990s. Dial-up Internet reigned supreme. During this time, online casino software developers had to ‘dumb down’ the games they created, to allow players to engage with these games through limited Internet connectivity. Minimal graphics (the absence of HD audio-visuals, animation, in-game features, 3D functionality etcetera) were necessary to allow players to play the online games. As the Internet evolved through broadband, fiber, Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, and lightning speed connections, so online gaming developers were able to provide more sophisticated games for players.

Trust is a fundamental component of online casino gaming. The technology powering online slots games, online blackjack games, online roulette games, et al was hamstrung by a concept that players inherently mistrust: RNGs. An RNG is a random number generator.. It is a randomizer; a software program that acts independently of the online casino in question. RNGs are sophisticated software systems that generate as random a result as possible for each casino game that is played. At a land-based casino in Las Vegas, or Atlantic City, players rely on automatic card shuffling machines, croupiers, and Lady Luck. This is true for all card-based casino games such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Three Card Poker, Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud Poker, Punto Banco, and so forth.

The trust factor is so important, that players are prepared to venture to a land-based casino to try their ‘Luck’ and test their ‘Skills’. For years, online casinos battled the notion that they were inherently biased against players, since the software code that determines the outcomes of every roulette spin, craps roll, or card dealt is unknown or misunderstood by players. The RNGs are independently tested and audited by external authorities such as eCOGRA Safe & Fair. These watchdog bodies test the games for randomness and to ensure that their payout percentages are precisely as advertised.

Online casinos utilize software from third parties (or proprietary software) such as Microgaming, Playtech, NetEnt, Random Logic, Merkur Gaming and dozens of others. The software company simply provides the games and the platform, with the attendant RNGs governing gaming outcomes. The online casino in question does not influence the outcomes of games. Despite these inner-workings, players remained largely unconvinced about the objectivity of betting at an online casino.

The Paradigm ‘Tech Shift’

Enter the era of live dealer casino games. In an effort to allay player fears, online casino developers toiled long and hard to create a ‘trustless’ system for players. It is known as live dealer casino gaming. In much the same way as Pokémon Go merged a virtual world with a real-world, live dealer casino gaming functions similarly. Online casino operators based their suppositions on the fact that people trust the results generated at land-based casinos more than they do online casinos. So, technology was developed to allow authentic casino dealers to deal cards, spin the roulette wheel, take bets, pay bets, and communicate with players from a remote location in real-time.

This seemingly space-age technology is readily available to players at all regulated online casinos. The software companies facilitating the services use 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi secure Internet connectivity to make this happen. Casino studios are set up especially for this purpose. Expert dealers are employed, and players can securely login to their online casino accounts, and enjoy one-on-one interactions with dealers, with live streaming webcam technology following the action. Dealers talk to players, and players text in real-time as the roulette ball makes its way around the wheel, or as the blackjack cards are being dealt. Once the bets have been finalized and the results noted, payouts are made and in new games can continue. This is only the beginning; virtual reality is coming to online casinos too!

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