This category of electronic entertainment is formed around a very specific phenomenon that came into existence several years ago and has been contributing to down-time in classrooms and workplaces ever since. What makes .io games fun and separates them from all the others is their accessibility: ever since most of the modern internet browsers implemented hardware acceleration it has become possible to launch and enjoy completely playable action, arcade and shooting games in regular open tab. The “io” part is just a domain name that the first viral sensation Agar.io used as a web address – since then it has become almost tradition to add this little embellishment to the titles of similar games.
Another distinguishing characteristic has to do with the fact that the concepts and ideas behind these games are usually pretty simple. Hole.io, Little Big Snake, Wormate.io and Wormax.io all use the same premise: control your character from above, consume energy to grow and be able to defend yourself from others. This simplicity is actually a great strength because it makes the rules extremely easy to understand while the multiplayer aspect balances the difficulty level out making things a lot more challenging – when the game is easy for everyone, it’s easy for no one.
The hardware and software limitations that come with the necessity of fast responsive multiplayer on low-end devices force the developers to carefully consider which mechanics to implement and which to leave out, effectively making io games free of any unnecessary elements and awkward game design choices. Some still try to push the limits though, successfully creating real battle royale free-for-alls and sandbox survival simulators.