In the distant past, people entertained themselves by telling stories, singing songs or maybe fighting each other. To look at this in a very reductive way, you could say that little has changed. Instead of listening to storytellers, we watch TV and films; instead of singing songs, we listen to our favorite tunes using our smartphones; and instead of fighting each other, we shoot each other in virtual online arenas. In actuality, entertainment has changed significantly. In recent years, it has been the internet that has been the biggest driver of change in the entertainment industry.
Until very recently, the internet was seen as the death of the music industry. Why was this? Well, the music industry hit its peak in 1998, when CDs dominated sales – the music industry made an absolutely enormous $27.8bn before the decline began. The phrase “Party like it’s 1999” comes to mind. The party stopped once physical music sales declined in the face of cheaper digital pricing and rampant piracy – do you remember file-sharing services such as LimeWire and Napster? Funnily enough, if you make it free for people to download their favorite music instantly (well, as instantly as downloads could be in 1999), then you might see a decline in sales of CDs.
However, it seems that the internet is both responsible for the music industry’s mortal wounding and its resurrection. In 2016, it was reported that the music industry finally grew after roughly 15 years of decline. Thanks to services such as Spotify, you can now listen to as much music as you like for free, either by paying a subscription or being forced to listen to adverts every so often. YouTube sees millions and even billions of people watching the latest music videos – television is no longer the home of music videos. This doesn’t mean that physical sales are in decline – people continue to buy CDs, vinyl and even cassettes.
Before the internet became widespread, video games were enjoyed either alone or with players sitting on the same couch. The popularization of online multiplayer in video games happened in the 1990s, as games such as Doom, Quake and Counter-Strike became genuine phenomena with players all over the world happily shooting each other.
As multiplayer became a real money-maker through the Halo and Call of Duty series, other game publishers and developers started tacking multiplayer modes onto their single-player games. Games with story-driven single-player modes such as BioShock 2 and Spec Ops: The Line were released with half-baked multiplayer modes. This is a trend that has died off a little and now multiplayer and online-only games are in the ascendancy, with games such as Destiny 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegroundsand Fortnite all reaching the heights of success. As well as video gaming, the internet has also changed the way that we play other games. You can now buy lottery tickets online here – see if you can get California Lottery winning numberstoday.
The internet has had other effects on gaming. The free-to-play model is something that cannot work without online because the games make their money from in-game transactions, which you need an internet connection to carry out. Additionally, updates and patches are things that the internet has brought about. Before the internet, when a game was released with a bug, there was no way for the developers to fix it. Now, developers can release patches for players to download to fix any bugs, and the same can be done for any new content that they release.
TV and film
The internet has introduced us to streaming services, allowing us the option of never going outside again. Before, you would have to buy a DVD box set if you wanted to waste an entire afternoon watching TV or films, but now you can simply go to your streaming platform of choice and look through large libraries of films and television. Netflix is starting to take on cinemas by producing films and then releasing them first on the streaming service instead of at cinemas. All of this makes finding and watching films and TV much more convenient for consumers.
The internet has had an enormous impact on so many things, even beyond entertainment – dating, politics, socializing, shopping, job searching and much more are forever changed. Films, TV, music and video games have all gone through upheaval and change thanks to the internet, with some products thriving and others not evolving to keep up.