The video game industry is more popular than ever in 2023 thanks to reaping the benefits of technology advancements, the gaming dominant demographic player-base coming into greater disposable income, and the rise of new monetization models that incorporate microtransactions.
These threads have come together to make the modern market worth in excess of $300 billion annually, which – for context – makes the sector between half and three times the size of the movie industry, depending on which metric is employed.
This uplift has similarly come to impact a slew of entertainment mediums that, while they share considerable crossover with the games industry, are not in the strictest sense purely ‘video games’. These new modalities on the rise point to interesting and innovative new futures for global entertainment – ones that blur the lines between the real and virtual, the traditional and the future-facing.
VR and AR
Those wholly unaware of the latent potential of these technologies – VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) – could be forgiven for thinking they’re purpose is limited to offer novel next-generation video game experiences.
This is particularly reasonable given that most of the greatest success stories for these technologies thus far can be traced to that industry. To date, the world’s most popular application of AR remains 2016’s viral hit mobile game, Pokémon GO, which used its core mechanics as a means of enabling thousands of gamers to track down, capture and battle Pokémon in the real world around them.
Likewise, the most promising examples of VR are to be found on games consoles, with the recently released PSVR2, a VR headset compatible with the PlayStation 5, stunning players with the world’s first true triple-A VR games, such as Horizon: Call of the Mountain.
But the sky is truly the limit for these technologies, with potential applications ranging from virtual workplace collaboration, to attending digital sports or music events, to shopping in virtual malls. All these use-cases and more have come to be referred to as the metaverse, with Facebook’s parent company even rebranding as Meta in a bid to push the coming of this technology.
Unfortunately, it will still be some time before we get the see the true extent of the metaverse, as the hardware required to access it is still too prohibitively expensive for all but the most eager early-adopters.
Still, the imminent launch of Apple’s own mixed-reality headset, named the Vision Pro, will likely lead to significant advancements in this field. Apple is historically a conservative company with its products – except when it’s not, that is.
The last time Apple was certain that it had a next generation technology to offer that was too convincing to fail, it unveiled the first iPhone – the template upon which the entire modern smartphone industry is based. If Apple can achieve even a fraction of that success with its headset, the metaverse could be closer to realization than one may suppose.
Easily the fastest growing sector on this list today is iGaming. This catch-all term is employed to describe the suite of entertainment forms that run the gamut from digital slots, to online casino games, right through to live sports betting.
This sector has witnessed impressive growth in recent years due to changes in US legislation that have created a more hospitable environment for platforms to propagate in the world’s largest economy. The impact of this is even being felt further afield, with industry-focused recommendation providers such as casinobonusca, which focuses its offers on the neighboring Canadian market, experiencing greater web traffic in the wake of this legislative adjustments.
The sector has also immeasurably benefitted from the growing adoption of the smartphone, which has lowered the barrier to access for casino aficionados eager to engage with digital variants of their favorite titles, forgoing the necessity of seeking out brick-and-mortar establishments.
Interactive TV and podcasts
The notion of a story with forking paths is nothing new, with a whole market for books that incorporate this feature commonly referred to as ‘choose your own adventure’ stories. What is new, however, is the arrival of this mode of story-telling into novel forms of media such as television, and even podcasts.
One of the major stumbling blocks is that this is very labor intensive on the part of the creators, but the recent success of Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ has not only demonstrated that there’s an appetite for interactive ‘gamified’ media, but that the technology and resources required to achieve it are now becoming a reality.