Online game categories
Game styles and genres change rapidly so it is hard to be precise but currently there are four main types of games played online.
Minigames / Browser games
These are online versions of classic arcade, board or digital games. They are usually free and often available on websites and gaming portals supported by advertising. These games are mainly single player and do not involve a virtual, narrative world. Spacewar, PacMan, as well as card games such as Solitaire and Blackjack are common examples and these types make up the majority of games played online.
Advergames are designed to promote a particular product, company or political perspective. Advergames usually feature a company’s product prominently and will either be played online on the company’s website or will be available for download. They are strongly linked to viral marketing campaigns, with the games attempting to spread product and company awareness by word of mouth, e-mail and by featuring in blogs.
These games are usually played online with a PC, but increasingly players are using gaming consoles with Internet access. Their popularity has increased with flat-rate Internet access and readily available broadband technology. They cover the majority of game genres but the main style of play is tactical combat such as first-person shooter games which are characterized by an on-screen view that provides the game character’s point of view. Players can compete head-to-head or in teams. One of the most popular games in this category is Call of Duty.
Real-time strategy games using tactical planning are a computer-based development of traditional war games while network multiplayer gaming is also very popular in various sports games such as racing and football.
Massively Multiplayer Games
Massively multiplayer games differ from other online games in two ways: (1) the large number of concurrent players participating in a single game, and (2) the persistent nature of the games (i.e. play continues whether a particular gamer is participating or not).
These games offer a rich three-dimensional world populated with thousands of gamers. Blizzard Entertainment/Vivendi Game’s World of Warcraft has over 6 million subscribers (1 million in Europe and over 1.5 million in China). Everquest, which was once considered the market leader, has approximately 500,000 subscribers, and Ultima Online has 250,000.
Role-playing games where participants assume the roles of fictional characters and collaboratively create or follow stories are dominant in this category. They tend to provide a more open-ended approach to gaming, and are notable for the social and community aspects made available through the service. Consequently, these games are widely known as Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG).