The entertainment industry has been transformed by digital technology, and yet there are still a whole lot of evolutions and adaptations that are happening right now or are just around the corner.
Let’s look at what changes are expected over the course of the next decade, and what this means for consumers.
The console wars will shift to the cloud
Since the first home games consoles were created, the arms race between the competing manufacturers was down to hardware. Today, Sony and Microsoft are still vying for superiority with their latest PlayStation and Xbox iterations, yet the emphasis on raw processing power is not going to be relevant for long.
This is all down to the role that cloud computing is already playing in leveling the playing field when it comes to device capabilities. Today it’s possible to enjoy flagship games on mobile devices through services like Google Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce Now, and there are equivalents on the Xbox Series consoles as well as PS5.
In 10 years it’s hard to imagine that physical consoles will even be necessary, with advances in connectivity meaning built-in apps in smart TVs should be more than enough to get the job done.
Podcasts will disrupt traditional broadcasting
Another industry which is being changed by digital tech is the broadcast sector, and while the focus may usually be on how video streaming has impacted traditional TV, a similar seismic shift has been brought about by the rise and rise of podcasts.
It’s taken a long time for mainstream adoption to gain sufficient momentum to turn podcasting into the behemoth it is right now, and variety is key here. Whether you want to follow the most popular gambling podcast, listen to recordings of radio shows on-demand, or even launch your own show, the choice is yours.
Indeed for a lot of radio stations, the impetus to create podcasts is significant, and audiences are listening live in smaller numbers around the world. In the years to come, it’s hard to imagine that analogue broadcasts will persist, and even digital stations might struggle.
Fragmentation will grow
Monopolies are bad for any industry, and yet there’s a sense that with digital entertainment we are going too far in the opposite direction.
Specifically, subscription-based services are being launched by all and sundry, meaning that viewers who want to see the latest and greatest shows will either need to have a large number of different, distinct accounts with everyone from Netflix and Amazon to Apple and beyond, or miss out.
It seems possible that this level of fragmentation is unsustainable and will reach a tipping point, at which audiences will be too widely dispersed, and broadcasters will need to rethink their strategies and perhaps pool their resources.
Exclusive content may need to be licensable to rivals, rather than forever lingering on a single platform. And investment in ambitious, avant garde fare might be less commonplace as streaming services become more risk-averse in an attempt to achieve profitability, rather than just unbridled growth.
Accessibility will improve
An advantage of digital entertainment platforms is that they can be far more flexible than old-school media formats. This in turn means that larger audiences can be reached, and that more people can be encompassed in the offerings available, not just in terms of the type of content produced, but also its general accessibility.
From subtitling and audio description to signing and even something as simple as color blind settings in games, efforts to cater to everyone are improving. So while the future of entertainment in the digital age may not all be positive, there are definitely upsides.