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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.
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).
Additional services provided by these networks include the capability of buying additional games, online chatting, downloadable content, and game demos.
The earliest experiments relating to online connectivity on game consoles were done as far back as the early 1980s. For some consoles, Dial-Up internet connectivity was made available through the use of special cartridges, along with an adapter. The GameLine for the Atari 2600 and the PlayCable for the Intellivision are two notable examples of this. 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. However, neither the GameLine or PlayCable attained mainstream popularity and both services were shut down during the 1983 video game crash.
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.For a number of years such networks were limited to the Japanese market. 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.
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.
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).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.
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.
AT&T unveiled the Edge-16, an online gaming peripheral which featured simultaneous voice and data transmission, at the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show.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.
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)and required a monthly fee of $4.95 (USD) for 50 sessions/month or $9.95 (USD) for unlimited use. 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), 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.
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.Despite the device's low price, strong functionality, and prominent marketing, less than 1% of Saturn owners purchased the NetLink in 1996, an outcome cited as evidence that the idea of online console gaming had not yet achieved widespread interest. Phil Harrison of Sony Computer Entertainment commented on the issue of online console gaming during a 1997 round table discussion:
I think online gaming is a little bit of a myth. A lot of consumers, when asked if they would like online gaming, automatically say yes because they don't actually know what it is - very few people have actually had the experience. It's like asking someone if they would like a Ferrari. They say yes but then discover it costs a lot to run, it's going to be in the shop all the time, and it's going to guzzle gas. And currently this is the experience most consumers get when they play online.
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).
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.
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.
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, Heat.net, 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.
Xbox Live (trademarked as Xbox LIVE) 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. 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. 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.
The Xbox Live service is available as both a free and subscription-based service, known as Xbox Live Freeand 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. It was announced on June 10, 2011 that the service is going to be fully integrated into Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8.
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.
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.
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.Wireless encryption by WEP, WPA (TKIP/RC4) and WPA2 (CCMP/AES) are supported. AOSS support was discreetly added in System Menu version 3.0. Just as for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo does not charge fees for playing via the service 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. This system also implements console-based software including the Wii Message Board. One can also connect to the internet with third-party devices.
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.
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".
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.
ChuChu Rocket! is an action puzzle game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. Released for the Dreamcast in 1999, it was the first game for the system to support online console gaming. Players must place arrows on a board to lead mice into escape rockets while avoiding cats. The game features single-player modes in which a player must save all the mice on a board, and a multiplayer mode in which players battle to collect the most mice.
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 GameSpy.com.
Voice chat is telecommunication via voice over IP technologies—especially when those technologies are used among players in multiplayer online games.
Homebrew is a term frequently applied to video games or other software produced by consumers to target proprietary hardware platforms that are not typically user-programmable or that use proprietary storage methods. This can include games developed with official development kits, such as Net Yaroze, Linux for PlayStation 2 or Microsoft XNA. A game written by a non-professional developer for a system intended to be consumer-programmable, like the Commodore 64, is simply called hobbyist.
Sega Channel was an online game service developed by Sega for the Genesis video game console, serving as a content delivery system. Launched in December 1994, Sega Channel was provided to the public by TCI and Time Warner Cable through cable television services by way of coaxial cable. It was a pay to play service, through which customers could access Genesis games online, play game demos, and get cheat codes. Lasting until July 31, 1998, Sega Channel operated three years after the release of Sega's next generation console, the Sega Saturn. Though criticized for its poorly timed launch and high subscription fee, Sega Channel has been praised for its innovations in downloadable content and impact on online game services.
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.
XLink Kai is a program developed by Team XLink allowing 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.
The GameCube is one of Nintendo's home video game consoles and part of the sixth generation of video game consoles. Although the competing PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles supported substantial amounts of online games, the GameCube had only 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.
Downloadable content (DLC) is additional content created for an already released video game, distributed through the Internet by the game's publisher. It can either be added for no extra cost or it can be 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.
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.
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.
The eighth generation of consoles includes consoles released since 2012 by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. For home video game 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 (PS4) on November 15, 2013, and the Xbox One on November 22, 2013. The Wii U was the first home console of this generation to be discontinued, on January 31, 2017, to make way for Nintendo's second home console competitor, the Nintendo 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. Throughout the generation, Sony and Microsoft continued to release hardware upgrades to their flagship consoles. In August 2016 and September 2016, Microsoft and Sony respectively both released "slim" revisions of their consoles, the Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Slim. The Xbox One S notably added support for HDR video and Ultra HD Blu-ray, while Sony released a software update to add HDR to all existing PlayStation 4 consoles; the PlayStation 4 Slim does not support UHD Blu-ray. Following this was an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Pro, which was released later in November 2016; meanwhile, Microsoft also announced an upgraded version of the Xbox One in 2016 under the name Project Scorpio. This would become the Xbox One X, released a year later in November 2017. Both of these consoles were aimed at providing upgraded hardware to support rendering games at up to 4K resolution.
Xbox is a video gaming brand created and owned by Microsoft. It represents a series of video game consoles developed by Microsoft, with three consoles released in the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations, respectively. The brand also represents applications (games), streaming services, an online service by the name of Xbox Live, and the development arm by the name of Xbox Game Studios. The brand was first introduced in the United States in November 2001, with the launch of the original Xbox console.
In video games with online gaming functionality, cross-platform play, crossplay, or cross-play describes 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. A related concept is cross-save, where the player's progress in a game is stored in separate servers, and can be continued in the game but on a different hardware platform.