When the world of online gaming began gaining popularity around the turn of the millennium, few could have imagined the rate at which the industry would evolve over the course of the next two decades.

In the last ten years alone, the online gaming market has grown significantly every year without fail. According to a recent study led by analytics think-tank Statista, the total value of the entire market is forecasted to reach just under $2.14 trillion by the year 2020. When you consider that the total value in 2015 was just over $1.7 billion, the rate of growth becomes even more blatant – an increase of $400 billion in just five years.

In line with such rapidly growing levels of investment, the range of services contained within the bracket of online gaming has also expanded at a similar rate. The market now includes MMOs, simulations, social games, real-time strategy and iGaming, to name just a few key areas.

We’re here to map out three major developments that we’ve picked up on recently, ones which are very likely to playing an integral role in shaping the path of modern online gaming in the next few years.

Live Gaming Experiences

The overarching goal of most gaming developers is a quest for immersion. Certain developers have always sought to integrate the latest available technologies into their gameplay in order to create the most engaging gaming experience possible. There are a few types of games that are pushing the envelope in this respect.

The world of eSports in particular is growing rapidly in popularity, combining an authentic live sporting atmosphere with competitive gaming on major titles such as World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. The fact that individuals and teams now have the chance to compete in eSports tournaments and walk away with monetary prizes only adds to the appeal.

Live gaming is also becoming increasingly popular in the world of online casinos. For example, the 32Red live casino now allows players to log in, view a live video stream of a real table with a real dealer and join in the action across a range of table games – from poker to roulette. Other operators such as LeoVegas and Gala Casino offer similar experiences and have recently been tailoring their respective offerings to be adapted across mobile and tablets, so gamers can log in and play while on the move.

Right now, live online gaming like that offered by 32Red is probably as close as you can get to an authentic experience without having to leave the comfort of your own sofa… for the time being, at least.

Secure and Efficient Payment Options

Flashback to ten years ago and the range of payment options that players had to choose from when depositing and withdrawing funds from their online account was limited, to say the least. In fact, if you didn’t have a credit card, chances are you wouldn’t be playing online at all.

These days, alternative methods are quickly becoming the norm. For instance, it’s difficult not to notice the rise in online app stores that offer Bitcoin as a valid method of payment for goods and services. Not to mention digital distribution platform Steam which has been accepting Bitcoin for a while for all types of video games, from MMOs to sports and action games. There are few fundamental security advantages to going down this route versus the standard credit card transaction, namely the fact that deposits and withdrawals with Bitcoin do not require people to input the entirety of their bank account’s sensitive information each time they wish to complete a transaction.

Virtual Reality (VR)

There’s been plenty of talk around the development of virtual reality technologies over the past year or so, mainly fueled by hardware releases such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift headsets. A recent report from Advanced Television documents the sheer growth in investment that VR technology experienced over the course of last year alone – a 300% upturn from the end of 2015 to the end of 2016.

While the technology is still very much in its early stages, it likely has the most potential to take the concept of live gaming to another level in years to come. A few notable developers in the horror genre, like the team behind Resident Evil, are among the vast swathe of businesses who are already investing in the technology.

All of these factors are currently driving the modern online gaming revolution and, in each case, their individual impact doesn’t show signs of waning anytime soon. As unprecedented levels of investment continue to flow into the market, now is genuinely an exciting time for operators and gamers alike.

If you’re keen to keep tabs on the growth of online gaming in years to come, these three areas will likely continue be at the forefront of innovation. Watch this space.

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