Infographic: 50 Years of Gaming—What’s Next?

Infographic: 50 Years of Gaming—What’s Next?

From arcades to augmented reality, gaming has delivered surprising, exponential growth. And the next era—powered by 5G, AI, and gamer data—is expected to dwarf even the past explosive rise.

We’ve outlined gaming’s 50-year history below. For a deep dive, read 6 Gaming Trends to Watch Now: Get Ready for a Revolution.

Infographic: 50 Years of Gaming—What’s Next?


  • 1972: Pong Births an Industry

    The virtual tennis simulation introduces the concept of a “video game” and ushers in the arcade age.

  • 1976: Atari launches the video computer system
  • 1978: Space Invaders is unleashed


  • 1980: Atari Holds First Gaming Tournament

    The event attracts 10,000 attendees and introduces commercialized, competitive gaming.

  • 1980: Pac-Man hits arcades
  • 1984: Tetris releases on PCs
  • 1986: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Launches in the U.S.

    The console brings gaming to the mainstream and shows its long-term viability.

  • 1989: Game Boy launches
  • 1989: “The Wizard” Opens in Theaters

    The Fred Savage film shows kids competing for an at-the-time outrageous $50K prize. Foreshadowing an explosion in competitive gaming and spectatorship, the movie began an integrated marketing campaign for Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3.


  • 1991: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) launches in U.S.
  • 1992: Street Fighter II releases
  • 1994: Sony Launches PlayStation

    This gaming newcomer breaks records by selling 102M units.

  • 1997: Snake becomes first mobile game
  • 1997: First Quake Tournament awards $5,000 before 200 spectators
  • 1997: Take-Two Interactive goes public
  • 1999: NVIDIA Introduces GeForce 256

    The world’s first “Graphics Processing Unit” (GPU), dramatically increases gaming speeds.


  • 2000: Counter-Strike Releases

    The first-person shooter game moves competitive gaming away from high-score chasing to fast-paced, online team competition.

  • 2002: Major League Gaming forms
  • 2003: Defense of the Ancients (DotA) releases
  • 2004: Handheld Nintendo DS sells 154M units
  • 2005: Xbox Live Marketplace Launches

    The eStore service allows the digital purchase of games and their expansions, and introduces the lucrative concept of the “micro-transaction.”

  • 2007: iPhone Is Introduced, Changes Everything

    The device revolutionizes mobile gaming technology and sets the stage for modern mobile gaming.

  • 2007: Las Vegas Halo 2 Championship awards $100K
  • 2009: In-app Purchases Are Introduced on iOS

    “Micro-transactions” and “loot crates” revolutionize the gaming monetization model and lay the foundation of mobile gaming as we know it.


  • 2011: Goes Live

    The streaming service (originally dubbed takes gaming spectatorship to the masses, allowing professional and casual players a way to broadcast their skills.

  • 2011: League of Legends Tournament Boasts 1.6M Viewers and $100K Prize

    eSports goes pro, and the best players treat gaming like a full-time job.

  • 2012: StarCraft II World Championship Series begins
  • 2013: VR game developer Survios is founded
  • 2013: Grand Theft Auto V sells 100M copies, earns fastest $1B in entertainment
  • 2016: Pokémon GO Is Downloaded 130M Times

    Gaming gets off the couch with the first mainstream “augmented reality” game, where players train and battle in parks, malls, and coffee shops around the world.

  • 2017: Fortnite Launches

    Gamers embrace the first cross-platform, competitive game ever on mobile, consoles (PS4, Xbox, Switch) and PC.

  • 2018: Overwatch League Forms

    Sponsored teams, big personalities, live commentary, and constantly evolving gameplay put eSports on the same level as traditional professional sports.

  • 2018: Fortnite Awards $100M for 2018/19 Season

    The phenomenon incorporates true cross-platform play and dominates entertainment for an entire generation, from gameplay and spectatorship to revenue.

Prepare for the Next Generation of Gaming with Treasure Data

As 5G, AR/VR, and continued growth in players and spectators shape the next generation of gaming, Treasure Data is set to help businesses capitalize on whatever comes next through a sophisticated focus on customer data.

For more about the future of gaming, read 6 Gaming Trends to Watch Now: Get Ready for a Revolution. To see how Treasure Data can help your company boost sales and customer lifetime value, request a demo.


Erik Archer Smith
Erik Archer Smith
Erik Archer Smith was a data-driven marketing and sales professional at Treasure Data with 10+ years experience helping companies scale during phases of hyper-growth. Erik got involved with tech early and built the first social media site in Japan using open source technology in the early 2000s. When not working, he enjoys spending time at the beach with his wife and dog, and obsessing over character-build stats in whatever RPG currently has him hooked.
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