Today, there are dozens of different ways to enjoy games on just about any device you like.

Technology and changing tastes have helped to make many formats popular. In addition to the big blockbuster battle royales, superb shoot’em ups, and quickly casual games that rise to the tops of sales and download charts each year, many players also enjoy popular options like blackjack and roulette. These casino games have been reinvigorated by the rise of online casinos that create modern variants of these classics that improve the playing experience. Sites like oddschecker that help players find the best casino bonuses have also helped to grow demand for these games, as it can help to make them available for less or even free.

But if you’ve only recently started playing any of these games on a computer, console, or mobile device, then you’re probably completely unaware of how different the experience to today when compared to even just a few years ago.

The reality is, the way that we consume and pay for the interactive entertainment that we enjoy on a daily basis has changed radically over the last few decades.

Video Games Have Become a Big Business

© Can Stock Photo / alphaspirit

Pay Per Play

In the early days, the only practical way to play video games was to physically visit an arcade and load coins into a slot to unlock yourself a set number of minutes or lives. Once these expired, you had to pay again if you want to keep playing.

This model was used in the late 1970s and into the 1980s and it was how many early gamers got their first taste of the medium.

During an era when computers and video game consoles were prohibitively expensive, this pay per play model meant that almost everyone could afford to play popular titles like Donkey Kong.

In fact, during this pay per play era, many of the most famous video game titles were released, including Pong, Pac-Man, and Mario.

Although it has since been replaced as the primary way that people play video games, the format lives on today. Arcade machines are still available today, both retro versions and brand new ones for people to enjoy. These are now more of a social experience with people competing against friends in two (or more) player modes.

Online casinos also use a similar model still, with players placing wagers on each game that they play.

Pay Per Game

As computer hardware became cheaper and more accessible, an increasing number of gamers began to buy PCs or consoles for their homes. Early machines like the ZX Spectrum, the Commodore 64, and the Nintendo Famicom (later NES) were huge hits. They also helped to pioneer a new way to monetise gaming content.

Instead of paying to rent a title for a few minutes, players could buy the entire game outright and enjoy it for as long as they wanted, without any restrictions.

Generally, the process of acquiring a game this way involved visiting a physical retail store, choosing a game to play, handing over cash to the sales assistant, taking it back home, and then inserting the tape, floppy, cartridge, or disc into your machine.

While that might seem like quite a bit of faff, it was all part of the gaming experience. It built anticipation and excitement while also adding a social element of mixing with other gamers at the store as, at the time, online play was almost non-existent.

This model of monetisation continues to be used today, even as new approaches have also taken hold. It is in decline though and, in some cases, owning a physical disc of a game is more about your ownership rights than anything else as some publishers don’t actually include any meaningful content on the little shiny circle they sell you. Instead, inserting it into your console just unlocks a digital download.

Video Games Have Become a Big Business

© Can Stock Photo / artofphoto

Digital Downloads

Of course, using a Blu-ray disc to unlock a digital download into the main way that this distribution method is used. It is mostly used to completely replace physical media, saving publishers money, cutting out expensive middlemen, and providing convenience to players.

By being able to click a button to charge your credit or debit card and automatically begin the download and installation processes. That’s why having a good internet connection is necessary to keep yourself updated in this online world.

It takes away the ability to show off your gaming collection on a shelf since they’re all stored as 1s and 0s inside a box instead, but that’s a trade-off most gamers are willing to make for the convenience of being granted immediate access to a game the minute it’s released.

In the early days of digital downloads, the monetisation model remained the same, with gamers paying once to get full access to a game. However, it was a stepping stone to the latest approach that publishers take to get paid.

Free-to-Play Games

Developing games is an expensive process, so the fact that most publishers are now willing to give away their content for free can seem pretty strange. But when you look at the free-to-play model in more detail, you can see it’s actually a pretty clever model of monetisation and is, arguably, more inclusive.

As the name suggests, free-to-play games are completely free if you just want to download them and start playing. However, you still have the opportunity to hand over money to the game’s creators, but in the form of microtransactions instead.

These smaller but more regular payments unlock additional in-game content, such as weapons, skins, skills, maps, vehicles, tools, or even missions. Not everyone will pay for them and many games can be enjoyed for a long time without the need to pay a penny, however, some are designed to hamper your progress if you’re unwilling to put your hand in your pocket.

While many people have criticised this approach as a cynical attempt to squeeze as much money as possible from players by charging them for things that they would normally have got as part of a one-time payment, the approach does make gaming accessible to people who don’t have a day’s wages spare to splash out on a new game.

It allows people who can afford to spend more on their gaming to do so while still allowing those without the additional resources the opportunity to enjoy the content.

Free-to-play games are clearly popular as nearly all the most popular games today use this model, including Fortnite, CS:GO, and League of Legends, though Minecraft and GTA V are some obvious exceptions. We can, therefore, expect it to be rolled out to even more titles in the coming years.