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Gaming Trends of the 21st Century – How Modern Gaming Has Evolved

The modern gaming world boasts a huge number of gaming titles, consoles, and even games you can play on your phone. Do you ever wonder “How did we get here?”

It is an amazing story, and games are one example of how technology has come a long way. It is incredible to think that in the 1980s people were still having to play games like Pong for entertainment.

The Poker Boom

The poker boom took place between 2003 and 2006, and during this period, the number of poker players is said to have doubled each year. This is quite an incredible statistic, but it makes sense in the context of what was going on in the world. We saw huge films that turned people towards poker and casino gaming, including Rounders and Ocean’s 11, and poker had become so much more accessible with the launch of online poker websites. In 2013, we even saw somebody who had won their seat via a $86 satellite tournament on the PokerStars online poker room (Chris Moneymaker) win the main event at the World Series of Poker. His prize was $2.5 million and people were fascinated by this incredible story.

Poker’s popularity dipped slightly due to new regulations in 2006 but is back to a huge level of popularity now and there is even another poker boom happening now with cryptocurrency driving growth in the industry. A surge in players engaging in Bitcoin poker at Ignition Casino can be attributed to the popularity and ease of crypto. These currencies tend to be safe and secure as well as being a fast way to move money. On top of that, people playing with cryptocurrencies can give away less personal details and don’t need to rely on a bank as the middleman in the transaction. 

There are estimated to be around 100 million poker players around the world today, and a huge percentage of poker tables are in Europe and the US. However, people don’t need to visit poker tables anymore, and online games including crypto tournaments have become mainstream in the world of poker, with sit-and-go tournaments taking place almost 24/7 and allowing players to try their luck. 

The poker boom is partially responsible for the growth in casino gambling in general, as many of the sites offering poker branched out into other areas such as slot games.

Open-World Games

Another huge trend we’ve seen throughout the 21st century in the world of gaming is open-world development. This means the games can be non-linear and players can explore a huge open area. 

Arguably, the popularity of these kinds of games took off in 2001, when Grand Theft Auto III became the most successful open-world game of its time. A lot of people credit the developers, Rockstar Games, for inventing the genre as we know it today. 

Rockstar still makes a lot of games in this ilk including the hugely critically-acclaimed Red Dead Redemption series, and they are still making Grand Theft Auto games, which have evolved into online powerhouses with players logging in all over the world. 

We’ve also seen open-world taken to the extreme with generative games such as Minecraft and even No Man’s Sky, which was dubbed a disappointment when it was released but has certainly pushed boundaries in gaming. There are more than 18 quintillion planets to explore in the No Man’s Sky universe, all cleverly procedurally generated within the game itself. With developments like these, open-world games are likely to continue to become more accurate and detailed.

Indie Games

One trend that we have definitely seen take off throughout the 21st century is the indie game movement. Indie games aren’t a new concept, and they were around before the turn of the century, but thanks to huge platforms like Steam, there are ways for small developers to reach a global audience with their creations. 

We’ve even seen games that were mainly made by one person, such as Minecraft and Undertale, go on to be huge successes. Undertale reportedly made over $26 million in Steam sales, and Minecraft went on to be one of the biggest games franchises in the world, bought by Microsoft for a cool $2.5 billion. 

It doesn’t always take a huge team to make a successful game, and indie titles continue to be successful to this day, even though they are competing with some huge AAA games.


Gaming trends have partially been driven by the technology that becomes available, and partially by what captures the public imagination at any given time. As games continue to improve, and people have a lot more choices regarding how they play, we expect that there will be even more fascinating trends and growth areas in the industry. We’re still in the early stages of the 21st century, and who knows, there may even be another poker boom or even a brand new type of game that becomes massive in the near future.