It's common knowledge that VoIP is a relatively new technology, but do you know how it became popularized? Today, we're going to take a look at the biggest source of VoIP's surge in popularity — video games — as well as why they continue to be a great combination to this day. A few weeks ago, we even published a great history on the origin of VoIP that might give you a better sense of where VoIP came from.
Even if you don't play video games, you've certainly heard that today's games let you play online with other players. Compared to the early days of the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which only allowed for two players to play on the same console, this is quite an achievement. Couch co-op, as it's called, is a term for multiple players playing on a single TV, as opposed to online multiplayer, which allows players from all over the world to cooperate or compete in their favorite games.
Online gaming was first possible with the Sega Dreamcast when the SegaNet service went live in 2000, but the system failed for a variety of reasons. Nearly every console that followed it has included functionality for online play, with the PlayStation 2 and Xbox being the first to widely implement it. While early titles lacked a cohesive network (like we have today with PlayStation Network or Xbox Live) and so instead relied on published-provided servers for each different game, the systems let you play matches online with other owners of the game, and even allowed you to talk to them via VoIP.
Now, VoIP is expected in every online game. While the quality has improved, of course, we have even more options for using VoIP to communicate online. The Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One consoles allow for party chat, which allows you and your friends to form a virtual "party" and communicate, no matter how many different games you've playing. This is a huge improvement over game-based chat, which is cut off if you get disconnected from the match.
Back in the PS2/Xbox era, playing online didn't cost any extra money (except for the network adapters you had to purchase for the system), but today both Sony and Microsoft charge a yearly fee for most network features of their consoles. This allows them to provide higher-quality voice quality and more stable connections than they could if it was all free.
As amazing as communicating through voice and gameplay is, even more data-intensive methods are in use by modern consoles. Using services like Twitch, players can stream their gameplay to the Internet and allow others to watch and comment. Camera peripherals allow console owners to record their reactions or play games that track their movements. The amount of data that can be instantaneously exchanged in today's gaming is staggering, and it only seems to be getting better. VoIP and gaming are a great combination, and it's anyone's guess what innovation will come next!
To explore other areas where VoIP can be used to enhance the experience, get in touch with our awesome VoIP Consultants!