Every year, entertainment evolves in creative new directions. While technology tends to drive most of these changes, they’re not always easy to predict. Twenty years ago, most people were expecting VR to take off—without any idea that video game streaming would instead evolve and gain popularity at such a meteoric rate.
In 2023, most entertainment trends have focused on both of these types of tech. First and foremost, VR is becoming more accessible for many households. Meanwhile, streaming is starting to expand beyond the realm of video gaming. The goal is for companies to create a wholly immersive and personalized experience for consumers.
But which trends are taking off this year? And what new types of entertainment can audiences expect in the coming years? Let’s explore.
Live Streaming Improves the Virtual Casino Experience
In terms of casino gaming, one of the latest developments relies on live-streaming technology. The idea is to bridge the convenience and accessibility of playing online slots in platforms such as PokerStars with the all-out entertainment of a brick-and-mortar establishment. The result is a ‘live’ experience, which involves streaming a real-life dealer straight to a player’s mobile device.
Not only does this add a social element to virtual casinos, but it also enlivens the action with a new format—one that’s highly engaging and totally immersive. This calls back to one of the greatest benefits of live streaming technology: it allows remote consumers to feel like they’re part of an experience, no matter how far away they might be.
Streaming Improves the Live Event Experience
In fact, live dealer games at casinos might even be considered a type of ‘hybrid event’. These events have really grown since 2020, presenting a totally new type of live event experience. They often involve both physical attendees and remote viewers—but viewers can do more than just watch.
Hybrid events enable remote viewers to get involved in the action. At a concert, for example, they might have the option of throwing a virtual object on the stage, like a bouquet of flowers. They’ll also be able to see concert-goers around them, who are captured live, and occupy a certain virtual ‘seat’.
VR Improves with Wearable Sensors
One of the primary reasons why VR headsets failed to take off in the early 2000s and even the 2010s was the risk of bugs. Simply put, the technology proved harder to master than many developers imagined. Specifically, they struggled to create a seamless controller experience. While headsets were simple to create, pairing them with hand controllers has only recently become viable.
However, in 2023, one growing trend is the release of foot controllers. These add yet another layer of immersion for VR gamers. Specifically, these controllers, worn around the ankles, simplify the process of moving in VR games.
Rise of the VR Arcade
As we’ve already outlined, VR technology wasn’t nearly as accessible as many thought it would be. Along with gameplay difficulties, gamers also found that VR headsets were simply too pricey. In fact, this remains one of the primary obstacles for many gamers. Though the average price of headsets has dropped, many have already invested quite a bit into their PCs or consoles.
In other words, it doesn’t make sense to buy another system. That’s why VR arcades have started to take off. They allow both hardcore and casual gamers to sample the experience and try out games. Many arcades are also equipped for multiplayer, which means groups can compete in arcades against one another.
Streaming, Gaming & Content Meet
Clearly, entertainment trends are zeroed in on OTT streaming and gaming—and this fad won’t be letting up any time soon. Recently, Amazon acquired MGM Studios, which will allow the streaming giant to add hundreds of hits to its catalog. It’s also zeroed in on gaming with its Prime Gaming expansion.
Similarly, original streaming sites like Netflix and HBO Max are also moving toward gaming. In the last few years, these companies have produced multiple gaming-to-tv hits, including The Last of Us (HBO) and The Witcher and League of Legends (Netflix).
Game Streaming Services
This brings us to another growing trend: the concept of streaming games rather than owning or downloading them. This idea draws on the formula and setup of streaming sites like Netflix and HBO Max, but would include a roster of games. Instead of downloading or owning these games, players would simply pull up a title and dive in.
In the section above, we mentioned Prime Gaming. Prime Gaming is Amazon’s foray into the video game industry. It allows players to download titles that Amazon has the rights to, exactly like a video streaming platform. However, Amazon was first attempting to launch Stadia.
Stadia was a game streaming platform. This works a bit differently than the current Prime Gaming setup because Stadia didn’t require any downloads. However, this type of technology is hugely complex and demands strong broadband. While it hasn’t taken off in 2023, it will likely be a huge focus in 2024 and beyond.
Looking Back on 2022: Blockchain & Gaming
So far, we’ve outlined quite a few possibilities for tech and entertainment. Most have been focused on live streaming, including casino slot games and game-streaming projects like the former Stadia. There’s also a strong emphasis on VR, including in-person VR arcades and improved VR mechanics.
But what about all the huge buzzwords from 2022, including crypto, NFTs, and blockchain? How have these panned out—or did they fall off the map in terms of tech-based entertainment?
Thanks to major fluctuations in 2023, crypto markets aren’t quite as stable as they once were. However, there’s still the possibility of bridging blockchain and gaming. One way is through in-game markets, including complex markets like in RuneScape along with in-game currencies like in The Witcher 3.
Because players are already using tokens, adapting markets toward crypto would be within reach should blockchain be adopted. Though this isn’t quite within the realm of possibility, as blockchain hasn’t taken off, it may be in the coming years. In other words, could gaming developers be some of the first groups to adopt blockchain meaningfully?