XDGames refers to games that were considered, in the dawn of online games, to be some of the most progressive technologically designed games. This spans a time frame of more than 20 years and of course, since that time, technology and applications have been developed to the point where those creations seem rather archaic. That said those that played, designed and monitored the industry at that time still harken back to that day to discuss the relevance of some of the thought concepts and actual technology that surrounded online gaming when it was regarded as a wave of the future. Many of the games have been revisited and reintroduced in some capacity or even iterated to meet current technological standards and now employ more updated versions that can either thrill original cultish followers or disappoint, depending on whether or not the new adaptations captured the initial essence appropriately or not.
One of the first companies prevalent at that time was Digital Extremes, founded in 1993 by a young James Schmalz. Schmalz introduced a number of products to the market via free or share software starting with a game called Epic Pinball. Most of the lineup at the time mimicked the arcade pinball format and did not adhere to the current standard of realistic environments and such. His introductory offerings following the original included Extreme Pinball and Silverball as well. These startup ventures enabled him to eventually be able to continue to create products for the market and to acquire the necessary funding to make a name for himself in the industry through a partnership venture called Epic Games Unreal.
Schmalz partnered his first company with the growing Epic Games in 1994 and they began to create a differentiated format to the early gaming platforms, extending the lineup to include the “Tournament” games and the “Championship” games that generally solidified the standing of the company in the market. These games went on to become blockbuster franchises and created a great general buzz amongst enthusiasts. Games were still offered via free or shared software and could be ordered for delivery in the form of floppy disc that players could install on their personal computers and play individually. They did not have the interactivity, as current gaming environments do, of online competitions or the like and the veritable discussions were primarily held in gaming forums.
The companies grew their following throughout the 90’s and into the early 2000’s and their partnership flourished throughout these years, depending highly on their earliest franchises and also attempting to move into other territories. The introduction of their game Dark Sector was an exceptional milestone for the group as it was accompanied by their own software property called the Evolution Engine. They were then able to launch an initial public offering and continue in their expansion from simply providing games into providing an operating bridge between applications and networks through their new technological contributions that are utilized globally by a variety of game developers on an assortment of platforms. Digital Extremes continues to operate today under a very different context from which it was originally born and still ranks as one of the known industry studios for interactive development through online, next-gen and mobile platforms.