History of Online Gaming

UGO's Evolution of Online Gaming starts with MUDs and BBS systems - let's explore how they started a worldwide phenomenon.

Let's take a look back almost 20 years to the dawn of online gaming. We'll start out with the dark ages of text-based games, move on to id Software's first person shooters, take a look at the first online console ever, and slide through history looking at how online gaming has improved and changed over the years.

1994-1996: Sega Channel
1994-1996: Sega Channel

1994-1996: Sega Channel

Sega was one of those experimental companies where almost anything they dreamed up seemed to be pushed forward into design, production, and out onto store shelves - no matter how bad the idea was. Add-ons like the 32X for their most popular console, the Sega Genesis, were terrible things with high price tags and almost no games to speak of. But one of their more interesting ideas was the Sega Channel, a subscription system where you could plug some weird box into the cartridge slot of your Genesis and have Sega, cooperating with your cable company, serve you up games for around $15 a month. There were 50 games on the system at the peak of the network's success, and Sega would sometimes toss on pre-release versions of games or other limited things you couldn't get in stores. Add in stuff like cheats and hints right through their network made this feel less like a "channel" and more like a real online service.

Now, you might be wondering why a service that didn't actually allow you to play games online against others would even be considered here - and the thing is, the Sega Channel did innovate in ways that services like the PlayStation Network on the PS3 and Xbox Live on the 360 have built on since. If the Sega Channel had come a little earlier in the life of the Genesis it would have seen much more exposure, and maybe online play would have been feasible for games that could have been developed directly for the service.

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