If you enjoy online gaming and have trawled through popular browser games repositories you will have undoubtedly seen the multitude of .io titles available. You have probably played on several of these titles too such as Wormax.io, Gats.io and Zombz.io. If you haven’t then you may be confused and may be wondering what exactly an .io game is and why they have become so popular?
In essence, a .io game must have a simple multiplayer gameplay, but must also make use of the .io browser extension. No one can say for definite why the .io browser extension was initially chosen – perhaps it was due to the lower associated cost in comparison to other extensions such as .com and .net? Whatever the reason, .io became the de-facto extension for this genre of game.
So where did .io games originate from? In 2015, a Brazilian developer – Matheus Valadares released his new browser game – Agar.io through the popular bulletin board 4chan. The game was an instant success due to its simple gameplay and accessibility – you could literally open a web browser, Engine in the URL, choose a nickname and start playing. There was no hassle, no huge download, and no registration process – this was no-strings-attached gaming.
Agar.io continued to grow in popularity as it was shared on social media platforms and promoted on gaming websites – developers started to take note and see the potential niche in the market for an easy to make a game that could draw in millions of hits.
The next big .io title to gain popularity was Slither.io – this game turned the retro Snake mobile game into something spectacular. Instead of playing solo on a small mobile screen, you could now play on your browser with hundreds of other players online. You could choose the color of your snake and you could try and destroy your opponents by intercepting their path. While Agar.io offered simplicity, Slither.io presented improved visuals and it soon became one of the top browser games available.
At this point, a game using the .io extension was now expected to provide quick, fun and accessible multiplayer gameplay – the standard had been set for the wave of .io games that would quickly follow.
Today we are presented with a plethora of .io titles that still adhere to the original concept – no-nonsense multiplayer gameplay. Whilst a large selection of .io games are successful and feature original ideas and fun gameplay, others inevitably fall short and fail to gain traction. Some lack imagination and others lack originality – some are just slightly altered versions of already existing titles. Despite this fact, developers continue to release .io games and the future of this genre certainly looks interesting!
This is a guest post by Tim Frank Anderson.
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