Online gaming has come a long way since its popularization in the mid-2000s, and it’s hard to imagine our gaming lives today without some online action. Currently, the most popular games in the world are online multiplayer experiences, even being featured in major esports leagues and tournaments. What started as a new way to play with friends has evolved into one of the most important sectors of the video game industry, and one of the most popular forms of online entertainment.
Last year, as cities went under lockdowns and people had to stay home to comply with new health protocols and social distancing measures, online gaming became some kind of resort for those seeking a distraction from the world news. The possibility of playing with friends, or even with people from all around the world, made online gaming a powerful tool for us to cope with everything that happened in 2020.
Since we’re in a blooming period of the video game industry, with new titles being released almost every week, online gaming has never been so popular. From first-person shooters to multiplayer online battle arenas, from sports games to battle royales, the options are almost endless, and even if you’re not up to some PvP action there are co-op and casual games that will certainly keep the fun for a few hours. So let’s take a look at some of the most popular online gaming genres in 2021.
Currently, the most popular first-person shooters include the Call of Duty franchise, with its latest entries Modern Warfare and Black Ops Cold War, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas
Combining elements of real-time strategy and action games, these games are notably popular in Asian markets, and are also ranked among the highest-grossing video games in the world. Recently released for Nintendo Switch, Pokémon Unite is attracting a lot of players, being praised for taking this successful franchise into the world of multiplayer online battle arenas.
For more than 15 years, World of Warcraft has been the most popular MMORPG in the world, currently boasting an astonishing 4.5 million active players. Its latest expansion pack, Shadowlands, released in December 2020, sold over 3.7 million copies on its launch day, breaking the record for biggest launch day for any PC game.
The offer of table and card games online is huge, and players can choose from a wide array of variants, themed tables, and bet limits. Slots, blackjack, and roulette are the most popular games, but most operators also offer other options, like poker, baccarat, and craps. There are also live dealer games, which are managed and operated by professional dealers, and streamed in real-time from land-based casinos and broadcast studios.
Today, sports games are also a powerhouse within esports, with many real-life sports teams taking part in leagues and tournaments, such as the NBA 2K League, which features several NBA franchises with their own esports squads.
Battle Royale games
Combining the last-man standing gameplay with elements from survival games, titles like Fortnite Battle Royale, which recorded more than 350 million active players in May 2020, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are some of the most played battle royale games.
What started as a sub-genre of action video games, has turned today into a standalone genre, with some of the most successful titles in recent years. Survival games put players into hostile, open-world environments, and require them to survive as long as possible, while crafting tools, weapons, and shelters.
Undoubtedly, Minecraft is the most successful survival game in recent years, but other titles like No Man’s Sky and ARK: Survival Evolved have garnered considerable fan-bases and critical acclaim for their innovative gameplays.
Some of the most popular online action RPGs today include The Elder Scrolls Online, the latest entry in the renowned Elder Scrolls franchise, and Final Fantasy XIV: Reborn, which accounted for more than 2 million active players in 2021.
Released last year for PlayStation 4 and Windows, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout had an active player base of more than 1.5 million players within 24 hours of its release. Another popular choice, the Overcooked series received critical acclaim and is one of the best-selling casual games on digital marketplaces.
Mobile casual games
Among the most played online mobile casual games are “virtual iterations” of renowned tabletop games like Monopoly, Uno, and Scrabble, as well as single-player games such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds.