Online gaming in 2021: These top 5 games took the world by stormBy Staff Writer 13 December 2021 | Categories: sponsored content
The gaming industry is booming. Since the start of global lockdowns, gaming has proven to be an incredibly fun way to fill the time at home. For those practising social distancing, online gaming has provided a valuable, entertaining way to stay connected with friends and socialise in a virtual environment. In fact, on a global scale, the average time spent gaming increased by 39% during the pandemic. By 2023, the industry’s value is on track to exceed $200 billion – almost as much as the global music and film industries combined.
So, which games dominated the landscape in 2021? These are the top five most popular games this year, based on peak concurrent players.
Born out of a community-made mod of Warcraft 3, Dota was the first to popularise the multiplayer online battle area (MOBA) genre in as early as 2003. Its official sequel, Dota 2, was released in 2013 and, in November 2021, boasted 747 506 peak players. It also enjoyed its biggest growth in player count in five years. The game is played from a top-down view where five players on each team battle it out to destroy their opponent’s base. Players can choose one of 122 different characters, each with their own unique abilities and styles of play. Cooperating with teammates, players must fight for gold, XP, and ultimate victory.
Dota 2 is notoriously difficult to learn, but the gameplay is dynamic, complex, and exciting. That's why it comes in at number five on our list. It’s also the most lucrative of any competitive eSport with the 2021 International tournament prize pool totalling a staggering $40 000 000.
An impressive nine years after its release in 2012, Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO) reached over one million peak players for five months running in 2021. This multiplayer first-person shooter was originally a mod of the legendary Half-Life back in 1999 and defined the genre of cooperative competitive shooters in many ways. Two teams of five players are pitted against each other where the Counter-Terrorists have to either rescue hostages or prevent the opposing Terrorist team from detonating a bomb.
CS:GO was made free-to-play in 2018 and was the first game ever to have competitive matchmaking built in. While its player base didn’t show significant growth in 2021, CS:GO is still one of the most popular games. Today, it's the third most-watched game on Twitch.
It may seem like a simple game with basic graphics, but Minecraft's numbers speak for themselves. First released in 2012, the game has now amassed nearly 140 million monthly active players, and it's the best-selling video game of all time. Minecraft allows players to explore a blocky, randomly generated world where every part of the landscape is destructible and can be used to build structures or craft items. Game modes include survival mode where players must find resources and protect themselves from enemies, and a creative mode where players have unlimited resources and can fly, build, and explore to their heart’s content.
Because Minecraft is essentially a sandbox, it offers players many creative ways to build and explore their own world. This is one of the reasons Minecraft is being used by Microsoft as a platform to teach kids to code, do maths, and more. In fact, a research report in 2017 found that the game had a significant positive impact on the decision-making and communication skills of students, and that it cultivated critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Who said learning can’t be fun?
League of Legends
League of Legends (LoL) was first released in 2009 as a spin-off of Dota and, while the overall game mechanics are very similar, LoL quickly overtook Dota in popularity, defining its own unique look and style of play. In October of 2021, it reached a peak player count of 180 million – which can be partly attributed to the incredible success of its animated series on Netflix, Arcane.
LoL is also known for having one of the world’s largest eSports scenes. At the 2021 LoL World Championship, a record-breaking 73,860,742 peak concurrent viewers watched the event – a 60% increase from 2020. That’s almost as many people who watched America’s biggest sporting event this year, the Super Bowl final.
As the youngest addition to the top five most popular games today, Fortnite has skyrocketed from its release in 2017 to more than 350 million players in 2021. It was one of the first games to start the battle royale game mode craze, where 100 players battle it out Hunger Games-style to see who will be the last man standing. Fortnite has managed to keep their players entertained with gameplay that changes and evolves constantly, and by using the game as a platform for live performance. In 2020, it hosted the debut of Travis Scott’s latest single where 12.3 million Fortnite players attended the spectacular virtual event.
The game also frequently partners with other iconic brands, so people can play with items from other games, movies, and even sports leagues. This year, LG hosted Spot of Triumph, a local and global Fortnite leaderboard challenge that gave players a chance to play for gaming monitors and an OLED gaming TV.
The best way to play in 2021
Looking back at 2021, it’s clear that the gaming industry is only getting bigger and better. And the world’s biggest display manufacturers have started designing displays with built-in gaming features.
LG’s ground-breaking OLED gaming TVs, for example, feature self-lit pixels that turn on and off on an individual level, and boast the fastest response times on the market at an impressive one millisecond. That’s a significant advantage in competitive games where split-second decisions can mean the difference between winning and losing. Additionally, LG’s OLEDs are the first to come with NVIDIA G-SYNC support for big screen gaming. Along with Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and AMD FreeSync, these adaptive syncing technologies are a must for gamers who want to enjoy a seamless and stutter-free gaming experience. And, if you have a next-gen PC or console and want to enjoy games in stunning 4K at 120 Hz, know that you need a display with HDMI 2.1 ports. LG’s OLEDs have four.
With no shortage of exciting games being released, and gaming hardware becoming more specialised, now may be the best time for first-time or existing gamers to add new gear to their Christmas shopping list. The wide and wonderful world of gaming has something to offer everyone. All you need to do is dive in.
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