Popular games that went from physical to online

Although humans have been playing games with and against each other as a way to pass the time for thousands of years, it is only in the last century that the gaming industry emerged as a significant part of the entertainment sector. And this change has continued as we have moved from in-person to online delivery methods.

According to recent estimates, the global digital media market has continued to experience significant growth. Perhaps surprisingly, gaming now accounts for the largest share of revenue within the sector as a whole.

In 2020 alone, the global online gaming market generated a whopping $21bn dollars in revenue, which continued to rise in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of 2022, these revenues had stretched to $23.56bn and are expected to swell to $33bn by 2027!

These figures speak to the popularity of gaming as a pastime, and with an estimated one billion gamers spread across the world, it is very likely that you are either a gamer or are surrounded by them!

With gaming now more popular than ever, however, what are the most popular games currently being played? And how have our tastes changed as we have switched from physical and in-person games to digital and online challenges?

With these questions in mind, let’s take a look at the most popular games that have switched from being played primarily in-person to online!

Online casino games

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you will not have been able to miss the rise of online casino games. In many respects, the online casino sector perfectly represents how the gaming sector has helped to shift various games from being predominantly physical and in-person to being based online.

In the space of a few decades, the casino gaming sector has completely shifted from generating the majority of its revenue at physical establishments to being driven primarily by online engagements.

According to recent industry reporting, the global online gambling market was worth an estimated $63.5bn in 2022 alone, and is expected to rise to $75bn by 2031. This figure gives us a sense of not just how popular these games have become but also how profound the shift has been across the industry as a whole.

At the core of what has driven this shift is the ready availability of fun and exciting casino games that have been perfectly adapted to the online environment!

Online slots are a good example of this and have taken on a whole new lease of life at online casinos. This is particularly interesting, as much of what made slot machines so fun to play in person was the physicality of them.

Despite this, online slots such as Sweet Bonanza are now some of the most popular games played at online casinos. And each year, online casino games developers have found new and exciting ways to push the envelope with this classic casino game!

Other physical casino games have proved similarly popular in an online environment, with poker and blackjack being particularly good examples.


As a board game that has been played for hundreds of years, chess is about as low-tech as it comes. Despite this, chess has found a whole new audience in the age of online games.

Popular television shows such as The Queen’s Gambit and the rise of streaming platforms like Twitch have contributed to the resurgence of chess in recent years. And to cite a good example of just how popular chess has become among a new generation of online gamers, websites such as Chess.com are now posting active daily player statistics of around 12 million per day – up from two million just a few years ago.

Chess is a good example of how classic ‘physical’ games have adapted to the online age by keeping the core components of what makes them engaging while also finding ways to innovate where possible.

This has been done through the use of online leader boards and forums to build up a dedicated community of players, as well as through technological innovations that allow players from across the world to play against each other.
Online chess is also unique in that it offers a much slower pace of play when compared to other popular online games, which very much works to its advantage. In a world of extreme excitement, chess offers players a chance to slow things down and stimulate their brain in a much more focused way.

Nakoa Davis