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You’ve likely noticed the rise of in-browser games using the “.io” domain.,,, the list goes on and on. But what the heck do these punchy little URLs mean, and why are so many sites, browser games especially, using the .io TLD?

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There are over 1500 possible domain extensions. These short, two letter TLDs are intended to represent website or domain hosted in a specific country. In the age of global internet usage, however, bazillions of websites need to stand out.

Some more prolific region-based websites will use common TLDs for their country, such as .uk or .au. Some of these extensions, generally those representing larger countries actually require proof of residency from the domain’s owner. Most of the smaller ones don’t, like .io.

The history of the .io domain extension

The domain extension .io is intended to represent domains and websites registered or established in the British Indian Ocean Territory. The archipelago of 55 islands nestled in the Indian Ocean. Only one of these islands is actually inhabited, Diego Garcia, with a population of roughly 4200 residents, and almost all of them work in military for the United States and United Kingdom.

As you can probably tell, the .io domain extension does not have any sort of geographically limiting requirements, and it has been generally adopted by technology based-companies. “IO” (or “I/O”) is a common acronym for “input/output,” an obviously common term regularly used in computing and technology. For example, you’ve likely heard of your keyboard being referred to as an “I/O device.”

Because of this, the .io domain is appealing to web developers, technology-based companies, and any other wireheads. Including developers of browser-based games.

Many developers (and certainly users) consider usage of anything other than one of the generic top-level domains (gTLDs) undesirable, more scrutiny is given to domains outside of the conventional, considered spammy. Due to .io’s general use in technology, there hasn’t been nearly as much caution regarding .io.

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