The Internet is everywhere – from phones, tablets, smart TVs, gaming consoles, and streaming services. The borders are dissolving.
Game consoles have been around since the ’70s, but it’s only in the past few years that they’ve advanced to become media consoles that specialise in gaming and provide a host of other entertainment and informational features.
Microsoft has pushed this the furthest with the Xbox. The Xbox features a slew of TV controls, content partnerships with ESPN, social features, and other home entertainment functions.
Sony, launching its PlayStation TV efforts stateside, announced its exclusive science fiction video series, Powers, at this year’s E3 conference. Sony’s PS4 also offers a range of entertainment apps that stream digital content. The PlayStation Vita, a handheld gaming platform, provides media streaming and Internet access, as well.
Nintendo WiiU also provides streaming media and social integration.
And then there are streaming/digital platforms. To name a few:
They, too, bring digital media services to the video screen. Much of the fare the consoles and streaming platforms provide is similar in theme (video, music, social connectivity) – and provider (Hulu, Netflix, Crackle, ESPN, NFL, Pandora, Spotify, etc.).
None of this is new.
Sony, Microsoft, Roku, Apple, etc. have provided these services for the past few years. In fact, the growth of the gaming industry continues to expand off the platforms (social and mobile games, Buzzfeed quizzes, gamification of news, etc.) and incite new forms of content – like Twitch.tv (launched in 2011) and Machinima.
Twitch.tv is an interesting example of the blurred lines. As a hugely popular video community, Twitch is essentially TV for gaming enthusiasts. It provides channels of content where people can watch other people play games and interact with them and other viewers. Twitch is so popular that Google is in talks to purchase it for more than $1 billion.
Gaming and the Internet also lead to new art forms, such as Machinima (Machine + Cinema), in which people re-purpose video game play to make movie-like productions. Check out Machinima.com or search YouTube, if you’d like examples. (Lest you sneer at gaming as an art form, check out the Smithsonian’s Art of Video Games.)
So, how does this pertain to creators of content?
Game platforms and streaming services are the initial strikes for the ubiquitous Internet. The access to, and presentation of, Internet-based media will shortly become as fundamental to connected devices as electricity. And not just by the nature of being networked.
If any media or information can be consumed on a platform, it will be consumed on that platform. Expect each platform to compete to capture and lock-in the consumer.
To compete, content creators must therefore pay attention to the opportunities and threats presented by new and evolving platforms/content and the communities around them. They must adapt publication systems to deliver across a widening range of outputs, and identify areas where their content can enhance the many fragmented, but focused, communities of interest.