Entertainment in the Digital Age: Trends or Innovation?

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As technology advances, so do the myriad ways people look to relax and have fun. From a business perspective, companies look to innovate new ways of accessing and experiencing classic pastimes; Twitch and Netflix are prime examples of this for the headway each has made in terms of video streaming.

However, from a consumer’s perspective, a new trend in entertainment should be accessible and affordable. Even more importantly, it should deliver an unbeatable experience. If it doesn’t, it’s likely to be a flashy trend without future credibility—just look at recent projects like Quibi or pushes for 3-D at-home entertainment in the early 2000s.

When assessing the current digital entertainment landscape, which modern projects are likely to stick around for the foreseeable future, and which will see their heyday end soon?

Online Casinos: Innovation

Casino gaming isn’t new—in fact, some of the first websites to launch in the mid-90s were online casinos. Clearly, there’s a winning formula: demand and convenience. In particular, the measure of convenience can’t be understated when discussing online casinos—but the craze doesn’t seem to be based solely on the comforts of playing from home. 

When it comes to trying a new game, such as blackjack, for example, there’s often a range of different variants available for online gamers. Not only is there increased variation, but gamers can try something new with less social risk at home.

While a live gaming experience at a brick-and-mortar casino delivers on excitement and ambiance, the at-home counterpart lets people do things on their time and at their pace. And with a worth of $265 billion in 2019, according to Statista, this innovation has staying power.

NFTs: Trend

From the NBA’s Top Shot to CryptoKitties, the meteoric rise of NFTs in 2020 and 2021 has left many investors scrambling to find a way to back blockchain collectibles. Historically, collectibles have been a hit-or-miss industry; while things like rare art, coins, and even strategy card games have increased in value over time, things like Beanie Babies and 80s movie posters have flopped.

In the end, only demand gives value to a collectible. Looking ahead, the general trend to buy and trade NFTs isn’t likely to remain relevant for many casual consumers. Instead, some experts believe digital collectibles will mirror trends for physical collectibles. In other words, digital multi-media art will retain value according to rarity, while ‘created’ markets like CryptoKitties will devalue according to interest.

However, with trading value hitting $10.7 billion in 2021, according to CNBC, NFTs are likely to continue growing over the next few years before the market changes.

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VR Entertainment: Innovation (Under Construction)

Similar to the push for 3D-capable TVs, the hype surrounding VR in recent years has been unparalleled. While cryptocurrency has been slated to revolutionize finance, VR (and AR) is viewed as the future of digital entertainment.

However, much like with crypto, there have been a few serious roadblocks. First and foremost, VR equipment is incredibly pricey, difficult to set up, and doesn’t have many applications yet. For example, Meta’s new haptic gloves won’t be likely to end up in a standard household anytime soon given the price and peripheral requirements. 

Other companies have sought to innovate in VR. This includes the NBA’s League Pass, which includes a VR setting that allows fans to sit courtside for certain live broadcasts. However, the project hit early issues related to glitching, which hasn’t helped warm viewers to the technology. 

At the moment, the studios creating VR headsets are spearheading the content their users will want to view. For the most part, companies like Netflix don’t have VR-capable studios to create compatible projects. Meanwhile, viewers aren’t demanding VR because they don’t have access to the technology and equipment needed to run quality VR experiences. 

However, that doesn’t mean VR was an over-hyped trend with no future. Instead, it’s an innovation that’s still under construction. With adequate funding from entertainment giants, from Netflix to Paramount+, VR viewing options will expand, which will auger further interest from viewers.