Business & Economics Technology

Entertainment mediums are looking to Video Games for future growth

There is a subtle but seismic shift happening in the media and entertainment world…

  • Music, Art, Film/TV, Sport, and Celebrity Culture are all increasingly looking to Video games for growth opportunities.
  • On the other side, game developers are branching out of game design and using their cutting edge technology to influence areas of design and engineering.
  • Potential is for Video games to lock-in complete entertainment dominance.
  • Future is bright

The lines between video games and music, film, television, celebrity culture, and sport, are becoming increasingly blurred.

Stormzy’s latest music video, produced entirely within the Watch Dogs game by Ubisoft (see here), is a reminder of the subtle but determined shift in the importance of video games in driving entertainment mediums forward.

No alt text provided for this image

With the rise of multiplayer gaming in the 1990s and 2000s, video games have branched out of being a single player story line experience to become a social experience. Kids born in the 2000s are now conditioned in meeting, socialising, and playing with their friends within a video game. This creates a powerful mindset shift amongst this generation of players of what is acceptable (including socially acceptable) and what is possible within a game.

One area of entertainment branching into video games is celebrity culture. This sub-industry is growing with streamers such as Ninja (15.5m followers), Sodapoppin (2.8m), xQcOW (3.6m), all commanding millions of viewers and regular subscribers to their channels. Some video game streamers such as James Buckley (known as Jay in The Inbetweeners) are from the core celebrity world. Gamers who follow these celebrities are encouraged to emulate them within the games they play, by buying items, such as skins (outfits) that their vitual avatar can wear. Gucci, amongst others, are building their affinity with the video games industry by exploring the potential of placing their branded clothes into games as a new revenue stream.

On top of this, last year Fortnite held a concert where gamers could virtually attend and watch Marshmello run a DJ set (11m people turned up). This is a notable change from the days of GTA fighting over licensing music for their games (players are able to drive around in cars playing music from the car radio), to now Musicians and Artists actively pursuing the opportunity video games present as a place to be recognised and grow their fan base.

Marshmello playing concert in Fortnite

Games such as Roblox are directly bringing their most creative players into the realm of game development itself. Roblox encourages users to create their own mini games within the game, and financially incentivises them to do so. By outsourcing game development to fans the idea is that production becomes democratised, resulting in the creation of games that players actually want to play and lead to greater engagement. Roblox has 115 million players who log in each month, and is expected to pay out $250m to players who have created user generated content in 2020. Again, this is creating a subtle but powerful shift in the creative industry. You now have a generation of young gamers who, plausibly, might find themselves a career in game development, as opposed to directing that creative energy into other entertainment mediums. With a Roblox IPO rumoured for 2021 the details of this could encourage the same rush and enthusiasm in the 2000s around learning web design.

Lastly, sport. David Beckham recently invested in the esports team Guild Esports, which floated on the stock exchange to a small fanfare and the tune of £50m (although there is significant debate over the value of this…). With minimum player salaries, franchise leagues, and professional managers and teams, playing video games competitively is now seen as a credible way for some individuals to make a living. For sports, such as Rugby, esports is also a way of engaging with a younger demographic less interested in the ‘real sports’ of their forebearers.

No alt text provided for this image

While music, film, sport, socialising and celebrity culture are encroaching into video games it is also worth mentioning that video game developers themselves are also increasingly being recognised for the cutting edge technology and creativity they provide other industries. They are becoming leaders in the development of technologies that Hollywood, engineering, architectural and music industries can only look at with envy.

Earlier this summer the software development company Unity IPO’d. Originally launched in 2005 as an Apple OS game developer, the company has since come a long way. It’s tools and products are used not only for games, but for engineering projects, manufacturing, film & cinematics. 8% of their most valuable customers are from these non-gaming sectors, and this number is expected to grow further.

“Industries beyond gaming are increasingly embracing interactive real-time 3D content” Unity Software Inc. S-1.

What does this mean? Unity is starting to use video game creative thought processes to influence non-gaming industries. Again, a subtle but long term development in the clout of gaming.

A more specialised example of this can be seen through Rebellion games’ short film production, which was created using virtual screen production technology (see Percival here). Similar to green screens, the technology allows you to produce any backdrop you would desire for a movie scene. Unlike green screens, the virtual production ‘walls’ emit light, resulting in vastly more powerful and seemless integration of the virtual graphics and the actors themselves.

No alt text provided for this image

Source – watch the full behind the scenes video on YouTube

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Stormzy’s recently produced music video through Ubisoft, is an example of how game developers are becoming experts and leaders in creating realistic virtual humans within games. Activision has already been plaudited with successful review in the realism of the characters in the latest Call of Duty game, and their skills in doing this will only continue to be applicable elsewhere.

Lastly, the ability for video games and ‘gamification’ is also being adapted cross-industry. For companies such as Robinhood it is a powerful way to engage users and encourage them to buy stocks (levelling up as you trade). It can also be helpful in the education industry in encouraging engagement and memory retention, while in the corporate world games can be used to assess an employees ability to take or manage risk.

No alt text provided for this image

To wrap it all up

In the past decade video games have now organised concerts within games, created world wide celebrity gamers with millions of fans and videos, and built franchise sporting leagues allowing video gamers to competitively play against one another for a living. Technology used to create video games is also increasingly being used by Film & TV, as well as engineering and architecture, to create more immersive experiences and products for viewers.

The result is an ultimate entertainment model of which the foundation is Video Games. Other entertainment mediums should be following this subtle shift with intense curiosity, to ensure they are not left behind.Report this