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Internet Game Timeline

The History of Online Gaming 1999 - 2004

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1999
The Dreamcast is released in the US.

On March 1, Sony launches EverQuest, a fully three-dimensional MMORPG. The game is a huge success, and in the following years it sees many expansions and attracts more than half a million subscribers.

In early April Sierra releases Team Fortress Classic, a modification for Half-Life based on the extremely popular Quake Team Fortress mod.

On June 19th, Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess Cliffe release beta 1 of Counter-Strike, another modification for Half-Life. The free mod goes on to set records for the largest service footprint of any game on the Internet, with 35,000 servers generating over 4.5 billion player minutes per month.

Microsoft releases Asheron's Call on November 2nd.

Quake 3 Arena appears on store shelves just in time for the Christmas rush.

Billy Mitchell achieves the highest possible score for Pac-Man when he completes every board and winds up with a score of 3,333,360.

2000
Sony launches the PlayStation 2 in Japan on March 4. In two days, the company sells 1 million consoles, setting a new record. Japanese gamers begin lining up outside stores two days in advance. Unfortunately, demand exceeds supply and not everybody gets a console, including those who preordered.

2001
Sega releases Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast, which makes it the first online RPG for a console. Icons and preselected text translate between languages.

World War II Online goes online in June.

Microsoft gets into the console business in November with the release of the Xbox. Although there was no network available to connect to at the time, the Xbox is equipped with a Network Interface Card which will accommodate a high-speed Internet connection.

Anarchy Online gets off to a rough start with a storm of technical problems, but the game overcomes this and attract a solid player base. It was the first game I know of to use "instancing," where parts of the world are duplicated for exclusive use on demand.

Dark Age of Camelot launches to a warm reception by players and the media. The game grows at a remarkable rate and quickly surpasses Asheron's Call to become one of the three largest MMORPGs in North America.

3DO publishes Jumpgate, an online space simulation game.

Blizzard starts talking about World of Warcraft, a MMORPG based on their popular RTS series.

2002
On September 10, the release of Battlefield 1942 kicks off an extremely successful franchise of multiplayer war-themed shooters.

Electronic Arts and Westwood Studios release Earth & Beyond, a sci-fi MMORPG set in outer space. The title peaks at less than 40,000 subscribers, and approximately two years later, on September 22, 2004, it closes its doors.

Asheron's Call 2 launches on November 22. The game never equals its predecessor in terms of popularity, and roughly three years later Jeffrey Anderson, the CEO of Turbine Entertainment, announces that the game will close by the end of 2005.

The Sims Online goes live in December, adapting the world's best-selling PC game to Internet play. Despite optomistic predictions from analysts, the title doesn't live up to sales expectations.

Between August and December Playstation 2, Xbox, and GameCube all introduce some kind of online capabilities for their consoles.

2003
On June 26, LucasArts and SOE launch Star Wars Galaxies, a MMORPG based on the universe from the "Star Wars" films. Sony also brings EverQuest to the PlayStation 2 as EverQuest Online Adventures, which uses a world separate from that of the PC version.

Project Entropia, a MMORPG developed in Sweden, launches with a secondary market revenue model, where game currency can be bought and sold with real currency.

Square Enix releases the PC version of Final Fantasy XI in the US on October 28. It later becomes available for the PlayStation 2 and allows PC users and console users to participate in the same world. The PS2 version of the game is sold with a harddrive.

Other notable MMORPG releases include Eve Online and Shadowbane, both of which feature open PvP systems.

2004
Halo 2 arrives with unprecedented hysteria and manages to single-handedly quadruple usage of the Xbox Live online service.

NCSoft makes significant strides in the North American MMORPG market with the publication of Lineage 2 and City of Heroes.

Doom 3 and Half-Life 2, which includes a remade retail version of Counter-Strike, hit store shelves.

SOE launches EverQuest 2, the sequel to EverQuest, which still has around 500,000 subscribers at the time.

World of Warcraft in released in North America on November 23, and despite doubling server capacity within weeks of launch, the game has difficulty meeting demand. At the same time, Blizzard's first MMORPG breaks sales, subscriber, and concurrent player records in the US, with similar results upon the game's release in Europe and China the next year.

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