Entertainment in Metaverses

Entertainment is a sprawling industry that covers a wide range of sectors. Overall, the industry’s offering could be divided into two broad categories: content and experiences. The content side of the business, regardless of format, has been shifting towards digital channels for two decades, whereas the experiences are only starting to shift from offline, out-of-home channels to virtual spaces.

The additive value the metaverse can create for entertainment brands essentially boils down to three main functions: immersive storytelling, world-building, and unlocking fan creativity. Each of these three features complements the franchise-building process and enhances audience engagement, two top priorities for any modern entertainment brand.

Immersive Storytelling

Storytelling forms the basis for the content business, regardless of its format or distribution channel. Metaverses supercharge the storytelling capability with deep immersion and interactivity, gamifying the narratives to aid the suspension of disbelief and build affinity. Instead of passively consuming a piece of content, viewers are to become spectators or even active participants in the narrative, leading to a heightened sense of agency and emotional investment. The line between entertainment content and experience would be a rather blurred one in metaverses.

Interactive content is nothing new at this point. From Netflix’s intriguing attempts at creating choose-your-own-adventure episodes, to HBO’s more elaborate attempt at non-linear content with Mosaic, content creators have been experimenting with new formats to boost viewer engagement. However, 2D interactive content lacks the kind of immersion that a 3D interactive experience can offer. Today, video games often produce some of the most engrossing fictional narratives that the entertainment industry has to offer, and the rise of metaverse will make that more evident, forcing content creators to contend with the power of immersive storytelling.

Virtual reality content has been applauded by many for the total immersion it enables, and there is a far-off version of the metaverse that will be accessible via VR. However, the reach of VR content will remain limited until VR hardware adoption picks up. So the discussion around the metaverse tends to concentrate on gaming environments for now.

Richard Yao

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