Online gaming hubs have been around since the very early days of the internet, offering gamers a diverse range of games all contained within the same portal. As the internet diversified away from the world of dial-up to the world of speedy broadband, gamers were able to move from site to site more easily and more readily, without worrying about losing connection during a new page loading. This meant that gaming hubs had to adapt in order to keep hold of customers who no longer had an inherent reason to be loyal.
— Miniclip Games (@Miniclip) December 12, 2017
One of the biggest players in this industry (and one of the longest-standing, after being founded in 2001) is Miniclip. Sometimes, being first on the scene can leave you open to being copied and left behind when improvements are made by other competitors, but Miniclip continued to go from strength to strength, evolving with the times and ensuring that paid-for access and compatibility on mobile devices only boosted their reputation. Proof of this can be seen by the fact that it has been downloaded more than a billion times across mobile devices. Has simplicity been the key to its success though, and is this a theme that carries through to other successful hubs?
A Simple Layout That Looks Good
As it stands now, graphics may not always be key to the games included in the hubs, but a simple design layout that features a sidebar which is easy to be navigated and has a clear preview format (often made into a clip of what the game encompasses) has been a successful evolution of the games from the old format of drop-down menus that had previously caused frustrations. You can get an idea from this online casino layout how easily games can be accessed, with a clear, flat design; it can be viewed as a signal that sites are evolving from being all-singing, all-dancing affairs, to simple hubs that convey their message simply and effectively.
Simplicity aside, perhaps the biggest evolution that is coming (and in some cases like Miniclip) has already come to gaming hubs is the battle to show uniformity across different devices with the downloadable games, mobile browser-based games and PC-based games all requiring different user interactions. The challenge this presents is for the sites to present the same design and the same message across all platforms. With gaming likely to continue to be in demand in all of these formats, perhaps the next evolution of gaming hubs is to ensure that they can adapt fully and cohesively to this standardization.
Not Being Too Flashy: A Key to Success
While the future of HTML5 is seemingly under constant debate, the fact is that this program helped to make online gaming hubs like Newgrounds and Kongregate successful, and even allowed sites like Playretrogames to bring titles like Super Mario into the world of modern gaming design. Allowing games to load quickly is, of course, key to ensuring that this sort of site can evolve, as gamers are normally unwilling to wait for a site to load for too long.
In Super Mario World, pressing L and R continuously in a random manner in Yoshi's House may result in the smoke coming from the chimney becoming glitched. Note the smoke sprite being split in two above the time indicator. pic.twitter.com/EFRnhuv6pY
— Supper Mario Broth (@MarioBrothBlog) December 2, 2017
Indeed, with this in mind, not being overly flashy with graphics and instead focusing on the gameplay aspects helps gaming hub sites to end up in a position where they can create their biggest appeal. With the continued shift of gaming from being a PC-based pastime to one revolving around mobile devices (devices that are increasingly looking to incorporate better graphics and new technology like augmented reality and virtual reality), perhaps the focus may shift towards these hubs offering better graphics in the future.