MUDs, including the first, MUD1, which was created in 1978 and initially confined to an internal network before becoming connected to ARPANet in 1980, are an early example of online games. MUD1 was created in 1978 and originally confined to an internal network before becoming connected to ARPANet in 1980. The first commercial online role-playing game, Islands of Kesmai, was released in 1984, followed by more graphical games, such as the MSX LINKS action games in 1986, the flight simulator Air Warrior in 1987, and the Famicom Modem's online Go game in 1987.
Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds (1996), Quakeworld (1996), Ultima Online (1997), Lineage (1998), Starcraft (1998), Counter-Strike (1999), and EverQuest (1998) were among the most popular online games of the 1990s, thanks to the rapid growth of the Internet (1999). The Famicom Modem (1987), Sega Meganet (1990), Satellaview (1995), SegaNet (2000), PlayStation 2 (2000), and Xbox (2001) were among the first consoles to have online networking capabilities. More recent developments include the popularization of new genres, such as social games, and new platforms, such as mobile games, as a result of improvements in connection speeds.
As the 2000s approached, the cost of technology, servers, and the Internet began to fall so low that it was ordinary to have a fast Internet connection, allowing previously unknown genres such as massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) to become well-known. The game World of Warcraft (2004), for example, dominated the decade for the most part. Several other MMOs, including Star Wars Galaxies, City of Heroes, Wildstar, Warhammer Online, Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars: The Old Republic, tried to follow in Warcraft's footsteps, but failed to gain a major market share. The MMORPG community has evolved into a subculture with its own lingo and metaphors, as well as a set of social conventions and taboos that are not written down.
Separately, a new type of online game emerged to popularity alongside World of Warcraft, Defense of the Ancients (2003) which debuted the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) model. Despite the fact that the format was related to the Warcraft IP, others began to develop their own MOBAs, notably Heroes of Newerth (2009), League of Legends (2009), and Dota 2 (2009), when interest in World of Warcraft declined (2013). With Heroes of the Storm (2015), Blizzard Entertainment, the creators of Warcraft, took their own spin on the MOBA genre, focusing on a number of original characters from Warcraft III and other Blizzard franchises. The genre had become a prominent element of the esports category by the early 2000s.
With the debut of Battleborn and Overwatch in 2016, hero shooters, a genre of shooter games influenced by multiplayer online combat arenas and earlier class-based shooters, saw a significant increase in popularity in the second part of the decade. With games like Paladins (2018) and Valorant (2018), the genre continued to expand (2020).
With the debut of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (2017), Fortnite Battle Royale (2017), and Apex Legends (2017), the battle royale game genre grew increasingly popular (2019). With the release of Call of Duty: Warzone in the 2020s, the genre's popularity grew even further (2020). Within months of their release, each game had tens of millions of players.
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