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Do Free Online Games Threaten The Video Game Industry

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Commercial video games have been on the market for a considerable amount of time now, and there’s a good chance that anybody under the age of 30 was exposed to home video game systems during their youth. While advanced, high-quality computer games took a few more years to develop, they’ve been around for a quite some time as well.

Traditional video game systems and computer games are still very much alive. In fact, there is some evidence that certain segments of the video game market are actually growing; however, there’s a new player on the scene that they’re already competing with: free online games. 

Why Are People Playing Online Games?

One reason some researchers believe that people are playing more online games is because they’ve come to accept advertising as part of their gaming experience, and they aren’t bothered by ads that interrupt gameplay from time to time. Ad-based services like these are popular in other areas of media of well – sites like Hulu, which offers streaming television shows for free, does the same thing.

When asked why they play free online games, the responses are typical – for mental stimulation and to relax. Those are pretty much the same reasons people provide when asked why they play traditional commercial video and computer games.

Online Games are Profitable for Companies Making Them

Traditional videogames and computer games often take years to develop. In addition, they can be incredibly expensive; however, online games don’t cost nearly as much as they don’t offer the use the same depth. After all, the person playing the game isn’t spending $50-plus for the game, so this is acceptable.

Companies developing online games also don’t have to take the risk of investing millions of dollars in the production of a game to have it not recoup its costs.

Companies using games to market their business are also figuring out that games are an excellent way to get people to their site and get their brand’s message across. Research shows that simple games, like puzzle and word games, are best for marketing, but that doesn’t stop some companies from developing complex games that users need to spend more time with.

Violence in Games

In the past, traditional video games and commercial games have often been considered more violent and controversial compared to online games, which have often been seen as more mind-based games. In part, this is because free online games of the past simply weren’t as advanced. This was due to the processing speed necessary for online users to play graphic-intensive games, but it simply wasn’t available yet.

Today, with cable internet being fairly standard, and fiber-optic not far behind, that isn’t the case anymore. In fact, violent games are widely available online for free (for example, www.stickgames.net hosts a variety of violent games enacted out by simple stick figures), and just because the graphics aren’t on par with high-level MMORPGs doesn’t make it any less engaging or popular.

In the end, traditional video and computer games aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but for many people, particularly an older generation that isn’t going to pay for advanced games, and younger children who aren’t used to paying for traditional games, online gaming really is the wave of the future. Some even believe that subscription-based games, which are already popular, will eventually take the place of traditionally sold games altogether. Only time will tell.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California who writes on a range of topics, from gaming and tech, to travel, health and beauty. She enjoys playing games both on and off the computer, as do her children, and with a background in marketing, this is a topic she’s highly interested in. 

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