The Rise of Multiplayer Gaming

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Release Date: 25/01/2012

It's hard to image there was ever a time when we couldn't assume our grimmest war-face, fire up our consoles and do battle with a global army of enemy combatants from the comfort of our armchairs. We're certainly come a long way from sitting hunched over our Commodores, battling as much for keyboard space with our siblings as we were on-screen! But where did it all start?

Things really started to evolve in the 90s though when LAN parties were the in-thing for the hardcore gaming hobbyist. If the prospect of the violently seductive Doom wasn't enough to keep you up into the early hours by itself, there was no better way to bring the competitive minds of a whole generation of gamers together than by syncing up a few PCs and spending hours, even days, doing battle in the flesh.

Doom on PC at GAME

The blossoming Korean e-sports scene took the concept even further, and now commands a staggering national audience for televised championships. Blizzard's outstanding StarCraft series rules the roost in this domain, and not even the awesome sequel released in 2010 has put a dent in players' enthusiasm for the best-selling original. The competitive scene for StarCraft II is still buzzing in the West, and it's never too late to get stuck into a game that'll be around for years to come and still has two explosive expansions in the works.

StarCraft II on PC at GAME

Then there's World of Warcraft, the game that really did change everything. Released in 2004, it arrived just at the right time as the mass uptake of increasingly fast broadband connections became the norm, unleashing a greedy clamour for the world of Azeroth - one so extreme that it saw Blizzard pull the game from store shelves at one point, their servers unable to keep up with the snowballing demand. It now enjoys a seven-figure subscriber count, and with three award-winning expansions under it's belt, there's more content for you to get stuck into than you'll know what to do with!

World of Warcraft for PC at GAME

While consoles such as the sadly-undersold Dreamcast teased gently around the potential for global gameplay, it was arguably Microsoft who broke new ground for console gaming with the launch of the Xbox LIVE service, putting a whole new world of gaming at player's feet - and long before PCs became a breeze to hook up for the living-room lounger!

So while PC gaming might have dominated the early days of competitive multiplayer, it was titles like Halo 2 that brought the idea of mass gaming to the forefront of game design. While the single-player components of the Halo games continue to blow us away, the passion for Halo 2 was so extreme that players left their Xbox 360s running for days at a time to prevent the eventual switch-off of multiplayer support for all original Xbox games in April 2010.

Halo games for Xbox 360 at GAME

These days it's show-stopping blockbuster titles like Call of Duty that continue to change the way gaming is viewed and played online by the console crowd. For many, it's the only game they need to buy each year, and services like Call of Duty Elite are doing even more to add greater depth to the experience, allowing gamers to track, log and show off their finest moments on the battlefield.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at GAME

No-one can guess what the next evolution in multiplayer might be, but we're already seeing some extraordinary innovation in the likes of Nintendo's StreetPass, allowing gamers-on-the-go to make new friends without ever saying hello, and the awesome potential of the augmented reality features in the upcoming PlayStation Vita. One thing's clear, multiplayer is here to stay and the future can only bring us even closer together.

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