Online Games That Have Grown in Popularity Over the Past Decade

Grand Theft Auto
via Rockstar Games

Online gaming has exploded in the United Kingdom over the past ten years and the sector will reach a total revenue of over £1.1 billion this year.

This incredible growth is set to continue with the number of digital video gamers expected to reach over 49 million by 2027, but which games, in particular, have driven these numbers? Let’s look at the online games which have grown in popularity over the past ten years.

A cultural phenomenon

Grand Theft Auto Online has become a cultural phenomenon since exploding onto the scene in 2013. The longevity of the game, developed by Rockstar North, has been achieved by constantly offering fans fresh updates such as The Diamond Casino Heist and the Dr. Dre expansion. When playing online, gamers have the opportunity to compete with up to 30 other players in the open world, a competitive aspect of the game which results in fans constantly coming back for more.

Capitalizing on the pirate theme

Online games have also been able to capitalise on popular themes in modern entertainment. Sea of Thieves, which was developed by Rare and published by Microsoft Studios, tapped into the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Since its release in 2018, the game has been constantly updated with new content, contributing to the milestone of 30 million users in June 2022.

In turn, online games have inspired the choice of game titles in another area of the online entertainment industry, namely the iGaming sector. Slot games such as Plunder Ahoy Thundershots, which is available to play at Buzz Bingo, are influenced by the success of the pirate genre in films and video games. The slot game not only features a hunt for buried treasure, but the accompanying music is also clearly inspired by the popular film. The high recognition factor of pirate themes enables video game developers and online casinos alike to capitalize on the popular genre.

Common features of successful online games include fast gameplay, a high level of action and a competitive element, which is why games such as Call of Duty Online are so popular. In 2019, this was accompanied by Call of Duty: Mobile, which was released as a free-to-play game, achieving over 100 million global downloads in the two months following its release. In 2021, Activision Blizzard celebrated the milestone of 500 million downloads and the game has remained a favorite, with 3.72 million downloads recorded in July 2022.

Another online phenomenon is League of Legends, which is viewed by many as the ultimate multiplayer online battle arena. The free online game, which was published and developed by Riot Games, plays an important role in esports, with the League of Legends World Championship attracting over 100 million viewers in 2019.

Tournaments are so popular that they not only feature as live streams on streaming channels such as Twitch, and they are also broadcast on ESPN. The cultural influence of League of Legends is demonstrated by Lil Nas X releasing the track Star Walkin as an anthem for the 2022 world championships.

The growth in online gaming is set to continue with global gamers forecast to number over 1.3 billion over the next three years. With double-digit annual growth in the value of the global online gaming market, games which have been popular over the last decade will likely continue to thrill fans with new updates and added content.