Why online entertainment is thriving during Covid-19
The global pandemic has had a profound effect on the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Apart from the severe economic disruption, it has also posed an unprecedented health threat, with worldwide fatalities from Covid-19 having just past the two million mark. Health systems across the world are struggling to cope under the burden of the sick.
At the same time, people have seen a curtailment of individual and civil liberties, as government lockdowns have forced them to stay at home, restricting their social interactions to those within their support bubbles. Already this isolation is causing mental health problems on a level not previously seen.
However, as with any crisis, the pandemic has also presented an opportunity for some. For example, ecommerce retailers like Amazon have seen record profits as shoppers, denied access to bricks and mortar shops, have been forced to go online instead.
They are by no means the only business to thrive. The casino online industry - some of the prominent players are listed here – enjoyed both an increase in profits and soaring customer numbers during lockdown.
The reasons for this are myriad and interlinked. First, people are bored. Forced to endure hours staring at four walls, there are only so many box sets that they can watch. They are looking for entertainment and thrills and casino games helps fulfil this need.
At the same time, human beings are social creatures, and they are not comfortable with just themselves for company every day. Online gaming provides at least some form of interaction with others.
At the same time the global video games market has expended dramatically, whilst esports has flourished to cater for either the temporary suspension of professional sports or their reintroduction but with stadiums closed to fans.
Esports have increasingly begun to organise along professional lines, and, with their appeal to a younger demographic, have opened up new market openings for broadcasters, leagues, and professional athletes, as well as sponsors.
The gaming industry has responded to this burgeoning market by trying to increase user engagement, exploiting monetisation opportunities where possible. That has seen the proliferation of expansion packs, loot boxes, tools and characters and new features, all of which can be unlocked in exchange for payment.
Denied their usual avenues of retail spend, consumers are now happy to pay this extra now like never before.
And, as mainstream advertising has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have begun to switch the focus of their attention to these new channels,, aware that is where their potential audience is now to be found.
Some gams have started to cross over into other sectors of the entertainment industry. The most obvious example of this is the online video game Fortnite, which has impinged on music, sports, and television. It hosted last year a live rap event t,hat attracted almost 30 million viewers worldwide, has featured content from leading movie directors and has showcased new albums by major artists.
Many experts predict that the trend to online entertainment is irreversible and that, even when things get back to “normal”, many people will prefer the new-found enjoyment of being able to access the latest games, shows or content without leaving home.
There will always be those who prefer live entertainment , who will want to watch a gig, the theatre, or a movie, or enjoy a sports event with thousands of other fans. However, perhaps their numbers will not as many as before the pandemic.