Change is coming. And it’s closer than you think.

People expect content that is accessible in multiple formats. Studios and content providers are fast waking up to the need to deliver synergistic content across multiple channels. We live in a world of collective virtual spaces. We interact with each other through digital platforms as easily as we do physically. Covid 19 has accelerated adoption of digital interaction as the new normal. Technology such as VR, AR and mixed reality are a growing presence in our daily lives. 

We are on the road to large scale adoption. VR and AR have made significant (multi billion dollar) inroads into the consumer market and all forecasts indicate massive growth as the technology develops and more user friendly wearables become available. These technologies are huge disruptors of the consumer and entertainment world. 

The smartphone was the first step to an even more seismic change. Soon our physical world will be enhanced with an always on digital overlay. This digital overlay is often referred to as XR or Extended Reality and is the sum of all the virtual worlds, whether screens, online, mobile, VR, AR, mixed reality working together as one ecosystem. Enabling shared coexisting physical and digital worlds through the use of fast developing networks, hardware, software and the internet. 

In his novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson coined the Metaverse. It’s since become the shorthand description of where we’re heading. A collective 3D virtual shared world, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space. If you’ve read Snow Crash or watched Ready Player One, they are the ultimate geek extrapolation of where this is heading (though hopefully without the dystopian bits).

I’ve spent the better part of a decade dreaming about and creating content for this fast emerging multi platform future. I was fortunate enough to head up the content studio at Magic Leap, a truly groundbreaking multi billion dollar tech company at the forefront of wearable technology. We worked with the media and entertainment world to develop strategies to enable and expand the possibilities of creative XR. Diving into how it will dramatically impact every aspect of our media and entertainment consumption. Everything from publishing, location based, film, theatre and more. We explored the impact of how people will consume and interact with their Entertainment. 

We no longer passively ingest content, it’s part of our daily lives. Our relationship with our phones and the impact of streaming has changed our expectations. The new norm is being always on, with access to our content no matter where we are. And we’re increasingly interacting with that content. This shift is just the beginning of a revolution for entertainment.

For most of my working life, developing characters and stories for different platforms, this IP lived within its own realm whether online, TV, film or comic books. The IP could be adapted for the different mediums but it didn’t live persistently across all mediums, able to move seamlessly from one to another. Soon it will. Content will be always on, living in real time and waiting for you to engage with it. 

Running a content studio that worked hand in glove with technology development offers a unique perspective and view of the developing landscape. Our remit was to grow the medium while challenging the hardware and software to be able to meet the needs of the consumer. We built multi award experiences that enabled us to develop the collaborative tools, pipelines and methodologies that will have a lasting influence on an emerging medium. It’s not easy. But it is exciting and game changing and the winners will win huge.

Compelling content engages the audience and offers opportunities for monetization and exploitation. But the rules of engagement will soon be radically different. We’re looking at a massively expanded playing field, applying cross platform synergy to grab hold and maintain the attention and loyalty of audiences. The next few years will bring together interactive open ended storytelling, continual user engagement and an emerging XR world, leading to new and untapped revenue streams. Winners in this new paradigm will learn quickly and understand how to leverage the changing face of entertainment, experience interaction and content delivery. Forward thinking content providers will embrace immersive technology to grow and win the global audience.

In 1928, Walt Disney saw an opportunity to revolutionize animation. And being a visionary, didn’t stop there. Breaking out of the boundaries of animation, he expanded the IP and brand so it would live far beyond the scope of the source material. He used synergy to create a hugely successful trans-media world long before the term was coined.

George Lucas had a vision for Star Wars that far exceeded the limitations of a movie. He created a universe to play in and a template for world building and exploitation that has become the playbook for every franchise and budding franchise since.

They both proactively reacted to the changing times they were working in. The next Disney or Lucas is about to emerge and it’s more than likely we haven’t heard of them yet.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting up further thoughts about navigating the changing landscape, commercial opportunities, creative development and the new content delivery pipeline. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you want to discuss further.

rt writing!