From Snake to Brawl Stars: 5 things that make today’s video games different

Qustodio team

Qustodio team

Experts in digital safety

  • In 1952, OXO was born, a simulation of tic-tac-toe: the first known graphical video game in history. 
  • The video game market is expected to reach over 200 billion US dollars by 2023. 
  • Kids played video games 45% more in 2020. 
  • 8 billion people in the world play video games, and nearly 50% of them do so on mobile phones. 
  • From arcades to mobile phones, from the first computer games to the first portable consoles, Qustodio examines the history of video games to highlight what makes today’s video games different from their predecessors. 

Rewinding the cassette tape with a Bic pen, listening to music on a walkman, losing the internet connection when a call came through on the landline, not having batteries for your GameBoy… technology has come a long way, especially in relation to video games. And, with an economic valuation for the video game market at nearly 133 billion euros, which is expected to reach 182 billion euros (or 200 billion US dollars) by 2023, according to Newzoo estimates, it’s here to stay. 

But video games have changed radically since 1952 when OXO (based on tic-tac-toe), the first known graphic-based video game in history, was first launched. Or from the 1970’s arcades, where friends had to meet up in person to compete on video games, the dawn of today’s gaming tournaments. Nor can we forget the golden age of the 1980s, when Pacman, Donkey Kong and Snake were released, popularized in the 1990s by Nokia. In 1985, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was released and with it the legendary Super Mario Bros, followed by the launch of the PlayStation in 1994. 

Qustodio, the leader in online safety and screen time balance for families, examines the 5 biggest differences that exist between how games were played in the past versus today: 

1. On the weekend vs. All the time. There were video game addicts in the past too, going back even before video games with the ‘pinball wizard’, but in general games were played on the weekend or until a handful of quarters ran out. Today, kids play more than 7 seven hours a week, a statistic that was only accelerated by the pandemic lockdowns. According to data from Qustodio, kids in Spain spent an average of 1 hour and 10 minutes per day playing video game apps in 2020, 21 minutes more than the previous year, representing a 45% increase in play time

2. Consoles vs. Smartphones. In 1989, the launch of the first portable console, the Gameboy, which included the game Tetris, was a time-space revolution that allowed games to be taken just about anywhere. Now, with the introduction of smartphones, players can download and play video games from the AppStore or Play Store in seconds. According to the latest study by DFC Intelligence, 8 billion people in the world play video games, and nearly 50% of them do so on their mobile phones.

3. Flat screen vs. 3D. The first console was launched in 1972. The device which consisted of 40 transistors and 40 diodes, was connected to the television and generated simple images. It was like a board game and the scores had to be entered manually. Today, consoles are capable of capturing movements through cameras or sensors, as well as glasses and devices that create very real experiences inside of video games.

4. Buying cartridges vs. Downloads. Before the start of the pandemic, the analyst group Barron’s Next stated in a study that by 2022 the video game market will be 100% digital. Physical stores will no longer be the central focus of video game sales thanks to the different platforms that allow direct downloading of content. To this must be added the existence of free content. During 2020, one of the most downloaded free video games was Free Fire (FF), voted game of the year by EA Sports. According to a review of the game itself, carried out by Qustodio, minors between 4 and 15 years old play 74 minutes a day, which translates into 37 hours a month.

5. Multiplayer vss. Cross Play. The big downside to multiplayer games was the inability to use different devices to play at the same time. So much so, that when it was 2 or 4 players, it was time to wait. In 2018, for the first time, players from all over the world were able to connect and play at the same time (cross play) from any device or console. One of the first video games to join this dynamic was Fornite, a game that, according to data from the company itself, during 2020 had more than 350 million registered accounts. However, its violent nature places it among the most blocked gaming apps by parents, according to updated data from Qustodio. 

According to Qustodio, CEO and co-founder Eduardo Cruz, “I am a huge fan of video games. I have grown up with them and have been collecting for years, both new and old. I believe that they are a source of creativity and socialization and have been the lifeline of many children and not-so-children during the pandemic. Games changed radically with the arrival of the internet and smartphones, assuming an exposure by minors to new dangers such as: uncontrolled purchases within applications, predators operating under false identities, never separating from apps, and leading to addictive behaviors, among others. Parents have the responsibility to teach our children to play in a healthy way, establishing healthy uses of time, participating with them and verifying the privacy settings of the apps to avoid risks”. 

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