Online console gaming

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Online console gaming involves connecting a console to a network over the Internet for services. Through this connection, it provides users the ability to play games with other users online, in addition to other online services.

Computer network collection of autonomous computers interconnected by a single technology

A computer network is a digital telecommunications network which allows nodes to share resources. In computer networks, computing devices exchange data with each other using connections between nodes. These data links are established over cable media such as wires or optic cables, or wireless media such as Wi-Fi.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing. Some publications no longer capitalize "internet".


The three most common networks now are Microsoft's Xbox Live, Sony's PlayStation Network, and Nintendo's Nintendo Switch Online and Nintendo Network. These networks feature cross platform capabilities which allows users to use a single account. However, the services provided by both are still limited to the console connected (e.g. an Xbox One cannot download an Xbox 360 game, unless the game is part of the Xbox 360 to Xbox One backwards compatibility program).

Microsoft U.S.-headquartered technology company

Microsoft Corporation (MS) is an American multinational technology company with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services. Its best known software products are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, the Microsoft Office suite, and the Internet Explorer and Edge web browsers. Its flagship hardware products are the Xbox video game consoles and the Microsoft Surface lineup of touchscreen personal computers. As of 2016, it is the world's largest software maker by revenue, and one of the world's most valuable companies. The word "Microsoft" is a portmanteau of "microcomputer" and "software". Microsoft is ranked No. 30 in the 2018 Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

Xbox Live online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service

Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service created and operated by Microsoft. It was first made available to the Xbox system in November 2002. An updated version of the service became available for the Xbox 360 console at the system's launch in November 2005, and a further enhanced version was released in 2013 with the Xbox One.

Sony Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation

Sony Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo. Its diversified business includes consumer and professional electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services. The company owns the largest music entertainment business in the world, the largest video game console business and one of the largest video game publishing businesses, and is one of the leading manufacturers of electronic products for the consumer and professional markets, and a leading player in the film and television entertainment industry. Sony was ranked 97th on the 2018 Fortune Global 500 list.

Additional services provided by these networks include the capability of buying additional games, online chatting, downloadable content, and game demos.

Downloadable content (DLC) is additional content created for an already released video game, distributed through the Internet by the game's publisher. It is a form of video game monetization, enabling the publisher to gain additional revenue from a title after it has been purchased, often using some type of microtransaction system.

A game demo is a (usually) freely distributed piece of an upcoming or recently released video game. Demos are typically released by the game's publisher to help consumers get a feel of the game before deciding whether to buy the full version and/or keep it.

Early attempts

The earliest experiments relating to online connectivity on game consoles were done as far back as the early 1980s. Dial-Up internet connectivity was made available through the use of special cartridges, along with an adapter, most notably the GameLine for the Atari 2600 and the PlayCable for the Intellivision. Services like these did not have multiplayer online gaming capability, but did allow users to download games from a central server and play them, usually requiring a fee for continued access. The GameLine and PlayCable never attained mainstream popularity and both services were shut down during the 1983 video game crash, but they did have a large impact on future developments in online gaming.

Dial-up Internet access method of internet access using a phone line and the creation of specific tones

Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access that uses the facilities of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) by dialing a telephone number on a conventional telephone line. The user's computer or router uses an attached modem to encode and decode information into and from audio frequency signals, respectively.

ROM cartridge removable enclosure containing read-only memory devices

A ROM cartridge, usually referred to simply as a cartridge or cart, is a removable memory card containing ROM designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console and to a lesser extent, electronic musical instruments. ROM cartridges can be used to load software such as video games or other application programs.

GameLine was a dialup game distribution service for the Atari 2600, developed and operated by Control Video Corporation (CVC). Subscribers could install the proprietary modem and storage cartridge in their home game console, accessing the GameLine service to download games over a telephone line. GameLine had an exclusive selection of games, and its pioneering business model eventually gave rise to America Online.

During the 1990s a number of online gaming networks were introduced for home consoles, but due to a multitude of problems they failed to make a significant impact on the console gaming industry. [1] For a number of years such networks were limited to the Japanese market. [2] In a November 1996 interview, Shigeru Miyamoto remarked that online multiplayer gaming had not achieved mainstream success, and would not for a long while yet, because the technology of the time could not provide the quick-and-easy startup that general consumers would want from a "plug and play" console. [3]

Shigeru Miyamoto Japanese video game designer

Shigeru Miyamoto is a Japanese video game designer and producer for the video game company Nintendo, currently serving as one of its representative directors. He is best known as the creator of some of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling video games and franchises of all time, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, F-Zero, Donkey Kong and Pikmin.

In computing, a plug and play (PnP) device or computer bus is one with a specification that facilitates the discovery of a hardware component in a system without the need for physical device configuration or user intervention in resolving resource conflicts. The term "plug and play" has since been expanded to a wide variety of applications to which the same lack of user setup applies.

The first online initiative by Nintendo was the Family Computer Network System for the Famicom, only released in Japan. This device allowed users to access things such as game cheats, stock trades, weather reports, and some downloadable content for their games. It failed to catch on. [2]

Nintendo Japanese video game company

Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto. Nintendo is one of the world's largest video game companies by market capitalization, creating some of the best-known and top-selling video game franchises, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon.

Family Computer Network System online game service

The Family Computer Network System, also known as the Famicom Net System or Famicom Modem, is a video game peripheral for Nintendo's Family Computer, released in September 1988 only in Japan. It uses a card based format, reminiscent to the HuCard for Hudson Soft's and NEC's PC Engine or the Sega Card for the Master System. It allowed the user access to a server that provided live stock trades, game cheats, jokes, weather forecasts, horse betting, and a small amount of downloadable content.

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

The Sega Net Work System was a network service in Japan for people using the Sega Mega Drive. Debuting in 1990, this service worked with the Game Toshokan (literally meaning "Game Library") cartridge to download games on the console (meaning that the game would have to be re-downloaded each time). [4] Players attached a Mega Modem (modem, with a speed of 1,600 to 2,400 bit/s) to the "EXT" DE-9 port on the back of the Mega Drive, and used it to dial up other players to play games. There was a monthly fee of ¥800. [5]

Sega then brought a similar online service to North America, the Sega Channel, debuted in December 1994. Sega Channel provided users the opportunity to download new games straight to their consoles with the purchase of a cartridge similar sold through General Instruments. The service cost $15 (USD) per month and at one point had over 250,000 American subscribers while also building a following overseas but Sega decided to halt the project and provide an online portal in their new console the Sega Saturn. [1]

AT&T unveiled the Edge-16, an online gaming peripheral which featured simultaneous voice and data transmission, at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show. [2] However, AT&T cancelled it in 1994, having decided that its $150 (USD) price tag and lack of a match-up service (meaning players would have to find someone to play with on the network themselves) would prevent it from achieving any popularity. [2]

In 1994 an American company, Catapult Entertainment, developed the XBAND, a 3rd party peripheral which provided customers the ability to connect with other users and play games through network connections. The peripheral cost $19.99 (USD) [6] and required a monthly fee of $4.95 (USD) for 50 sessions/month or $9.95 (USD) for unlimited use. [7] The Xband supported the Super NES and Sega Genesis consoles and received a mushrooming installed base (the number of users quadrupled over the second half of 1995), [7] but once the Super NES and Sega Genesis's popularity faded the peripheral was discontinued.

The Satellaview was launched in mid-1995 for the Super Famicom in Japan. The access provided downloadable versions of hit games free to the user but required the user to download the games only at certain times through a TV antenna, in a fashion similar to recording a TV show. [1]

NET Link for the Sega Saturn provided users the ability to surf the web, check email, and play multiplayer games online. Released in 1996, the modem peripheral cost $199 (USD) and came with a web brower program and a free month of access. [8] Despite the device's low price, strong functionality, and prominent marketing, less than 1% of Saturn owners purchased the NetLink in 1996, [9] an outcome cited as evidence that the idea of online console gaming had not yet achieved widespread interest. [10]

The first home console with built-in internet connection, the Apple Pippin, was launched in 1996. However, its $599 price tag kept it from effectively competing with other internet gaming options (by comparison, the Sega Saturn and its separately sold Netlink device combined cost less than $400). [8]

The Philips CD-i and its CD-Online service (released in 1996) also rang up at less than the Pippin, but suffered from mediocre functionality. [11]

In 1999 Nintendo decided to take another shot at online gaming with the Nintendo 64DD. The new peripheral was delayed often and only released in Japan, it provided users to connect with each other and share in-game art and designs and even play games online, after purchasing the peripheral for 30,000 yen. The 64DD failed to impact gamers as it was released shortly before Nintendo announced the release of its new console, the GameCube, and only nine games would be released supporting the new peripheral. [1]


SegaNet became a short-lived internet service operated by Sega, geared for dial-up based online gaming on their Dreamcast game console. A replacement for Sega's original, PC-only online gaming service,, it was initially quite popular when launched on September 10, 2000. Unlike a standard ISP, game servers would be connected directly into SegaNet's internal network, providing very low connection latency between the consoles and servers along with standard Internet access.[ citation needed ] ChuChu Rocket! was the first online multiplayer game for the Dreamcast. [12] [13]

Modern networks

Modern consoles include an Ethernet port to allow users to plug into the consoles online gaming network. This is the location of the Ethernet port on the Xbox360 slim model Ethernet-port-xbox360slim.jpg
Modern consoles include an Ethernet port to allow users to plug into the consoles online gaming network. This is the location of the Ethernet port on the Xbox360 slim model

Xbox Live

Xbox Live (trademarked as Xbox LIVE [14] ) is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service created and operated by Microsoft Corporation. It was first made available to the Xbox system in 2002. [15] An updated version of the service became available for the Xbox 360 console at that system's launch in 2005. The service was extended in 2007 on the Windows platform, named Games for Windows – Live, which makes most aspects of the system available on Windows computers. Microsoft has announced plans to extend Live to other platforms such as handhelds and mobile phones as part of the Live Anywhere initiative. [16] With Microsoft's new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, full Xbox Live functionality is integrated into new Windows Phones that launched in late 2010. [17]

The Xbox Live service is available as both a free and subscription-based service, known as Xbox Live Free [18] and Xbox Live Gold respectively, with several features such as online gaming restricted to the Gold service. Prior to October 2010, the free service was known as Xbox Live Silver. [19] It was announced on June 10, 2011 that the service is going to be fully integrated into Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8. [20]

PlayStation Network

PlayStation Network, often abbreviated as PSN, is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service provided/run by Sony Computer Entertainment for use with the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita video game consoles. [21]

Nintendo Network

The Nintendo Network is Nintendo's second online service after Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to provide online play for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U compatible games. It was announced on January 26, 2012, at an investor's conference. Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata said, "Unlike Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which has been focused upon specific functionalities and concepts, we are aiming to establish a platform where various services available through the network for our consumers shall be connected via Nintendo Network service so that the company can make comprehensive proposals to consumers." Nintendo's plans include personal accounts for Wii U, digitally distributed packaged software, and paid downloadable content.

Wii (Online)

The Wii console is able to connect to the Internet through its built-in 802.11b/g Wi-Fi or through a USB-to-Ethernet adapter, with both methods allowing players to access the established Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service. [22] Wireless encryption by WEP, WPA (TKIP/RC4) and WPA2 (CCMP/AES) are supported. [23] AOSS support was discreetly added in System Menu version 3.0. [24] Just as for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo does not charge fees for playing via the service [25] [26] and the 12 digit Friend Code system controls how players connect to one another. Each Wii also has its own unique 16 digit Wii Code for use with Wii's non-game features. [26] [27] This system also implements console-based software including the Wii Message Board. One can also connect to the internet with third-party devices. [28]

Related Research Articles

A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.

64DD Nintendo 64 add-on

The 64DD is a magnetic disk drive peripheral for the Nintendo 64 game console developed by Nintendo. It was originally announced in 1995, prior to the Nintendo 64's 1996 launch, and after numerous delays was finally released only in Japan on December 1, 1999. The "64" references both the Nintendo 64 console and the 64 MB storage capacity of the disks, and "DD" is short for "disk drive" or "dynamic drive".

<i>Phantasy Star Online</i> 2000 video game

Phantasy Star Online is an online role-playing game (RPG) developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega in 2000 for the Dreamcast. It was the first online RPG for game consoles; players adventure with up to three others over the internet to complete quests, collect items, and fight enemies in real-time action RPG combat. The story is unrelated to previous games in the Phantasy Star series.

GameSpy defunct video game company

GameSpy was a provider of online multiplayer and matchmaking middleware for video games. The company originated from a Quake fan site founded by Mark Surfas in 1996; after the release of a multiplayer server browser for the game, QSpy, Surfas licensed the software under the GameSpy brand to other video game publishers through a newly established company, GameSpy Industries, which also incorporated his Planet Network of video game news and information websites, and

Voice chat in online gaming real-time voice communication over a network

Voice chat is telecommunication via voice over IP technologies—especially when those technologies are used among players in multiplayer online games.

Sega Net Link

Sega Net Link is an attachment for the Sega Saturn game console to provide Saturn users with internet access and access to email through their console. The unit was released in October 1996. The Sega Net Link fit into the Sega Saturn cartridge port and consisted of a 28.8 kbit/s modem, a custom chip to allow it to interface with the Saturn, and a browser developed by Planetweb, Inc. The unit sold for US$199, or US$400 bundled with a Sega Saturn.

SegaNet was an internet service provided by Sega for the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast video game consoles. The European counterpart for Dreamcast was called Dreamarena.

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was an online multiplayer gaming service run by Nintendo to provide free online play in compatible Nintendo DS and Wii games. The service included the company's Wii Shop Channel and DSi Shop game download services. It also ran features for the Wii and Nintendo DS systems.

XLink Kai is a method developed by Team-XLink for online play of video games with support for LAN multiplayer modes. It enables players on the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One to play games across the Internet using a network configuration that simulates a local area network (LAN). It notably also allows original Xbox games to be played online again following the Xbox Live shutdown on April 21, 2010 and certain GameSpy titles such as Saints Row 2 to be played online after the GameSpy network shutdown on May 31, 2014.

Import gamers are a subset of the video game player community that take part in the practice of playing video games from another region, usually from Japan where the majority of games for certain systems originate.

GameCube online functionality online functionality of the Nintendo GameCube

The GameCube is one of Nintendo's home video game consoles and part of the sixth generation of video game consoles. While the competing PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles supported substantial amounts of online games, the GameCube only had eight games with internet or local area network (LAN) support. Nintendo never commissioned any servers or internet services to interface with the console, but allowed other publishers to do so and made them responsible for managing the online experiences for their games. Nintendo remained pensive with its online strategy for the duration of the GameCube's lifespan, defiant of growing interest from players and the success of Microsoft's Xbox Live online service. Company leaders including Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata based their stance on concerns with maintaining quality control over their games and doubts that players would want to pay subscription fees.

WiiConnect24 internet service

WiiConnect24 was a feature of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for the Wii console. It was first announced at Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in mid-2006 by Nintendo. It enabled the user to remain connected to the Internet while the console was on standby. For example, a friend could send messages to another player's town without the other player being present in the game Animal Crossing: City Folk.

Online games are video games played over a computer network. The evolution of these games parallels the evolution of computers and computer networking, with new technologies improving the essential functionality needed for playing video games on a remote server. Many video games have an online component, allowing players to play against or cooperatively with players across a network around the world.

Xbox (console) 2001 video game console by Microsoft

The Xbox is a home video game console and the first installment in the Xbox series of consoles manufactured by Microsoft. It was released as Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market on November 15, 2001, in North America, followed by Australia, Europe and Japan in 2002. It is classified as a sixth generation console, competing with Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube. It was also the first console produced by an American company since the Atari Jaguar ceased production in 1996.

A home video game console, or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.

In the history of video games, the eighth generation of consoles is the current generation. It includes those released since 2012 by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. For home consoles, the eighth generation began on November 18, 2012, with the release of the Wii U, and continued with the release of the PlayStation 4 on November 15, 2013, and the Xbox One on November 22, 2013. The Wii U was the first to be discontinued — on January 31, 2017 — to make way for Nintendo's second competitor, the Switch, released on March 3, 2017. These video game consoles follow their seventh generation predecessors from the same three companies: Nintendo's Wii, Sony's PlayStation 3, and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

In video games with online gaming components, cross-platform play, or cross-play, is the ability of players using different video game hardware to play with each other simultaneously. It is commonly applied to the ability for players using a game on a specific video game console to play alongside a player on a different hardware platform such as another console or a computer.


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