COVID’s Effect on the Entertainment Industry

Thomas Ou ’24
EE Staff Writer

It seems as if nothing can be saved from the curse that is COVID, and this remains true when it comes to the Entertainment Industry. The  past year has brought about many delays with major movie releases as well as popular television shows. TV shows that used to have live audiences are forced to make do with empty studios or have their production temporarily suspended. Video game releases are being pushed back with major video events such as E3 and the Tokyo Game Show as well as music festivals like the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and most other concerts being canceled. The entertainment industry has taken a big hit as a result of the disease, and only time will tell how the ripple effects of this will alter the future of entertainment.

It’s no surprise that movies are forced to take a production halt due to the risks of filming in a deadly pandemic. A delay within one movie can lead to a production setback for the coming decades as evidenced by the entire Marvel Phase 4 being pushed back a full year. Before the pandemic, there had already been a decline in film attendance and it has now worsened in most major countries, leading to the major studios such as Warner Bros., Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox, Sony, and Universal going from releasing 20-25 major films in the 2000s to around nine in 2019 according to analysts.

The many downsides in this new age of entertainment have only been made worse by COVID. This virus has basically killed off the already-dying movie theaters, giving rise to the many online streaming services. While this could be looked at in a positive light, these numerous streaming services are really getting out of hand and it has no sign of slowing in the near future.

Streaming was created as an alternative to the expensive bundles that contain a bunch of useless shows and channels that come with cable TV plans. But now with the rising prices, each company taking their shows and putting them under only their services, and service-exclusive originals, the services have become the very thing they swore to destroy. Whereas before one could not watch Discovery Channel and NBC Sports without paying the $80 fee for both cables (as well as getting 50+ channels you won’t end up watching), nowadays one can not watch Umbrella Academy, The Handmaid’s Tale, Dickinson, Westworld, and The Mandalorian without paying for five different streaming services monthly (and now getting 500+ shows you won’t end up watching). While the TV industry is able to produce more original content every year, our wallets won’t be able to keep up with all the new services and , in the end, we will end up missing out on many great shows.

In a period where many other industries are suffering from these lackluster sales, the video game industry has actually seen some success. Unlike the film, TV, and music industries, developing a hit video game doesn’t require big studios or big budgets. Some of the best video games such as the witty RPG, with an intricate storyline and enough bad puns and quality music to keep you satisfied for a lifetime; Undertale, the game with such high-quality gameplay and graphics it feels like an AAA studio quality game; Bright Memory; and the game that needs no introduction, Minecraft, were all made by individuals in the basements of their homes.

This allows video games to continue releasing despite the virus, with this new market actually being more beneficial for budding game developers. On the other hand, a downside is the fact that events such as the Game Developers Conference (GDC) have been canceled, leading to novice and aspiring game developers missing out on funding for their games and/or becoming unable to do vital networking for their careers. 

To sum it all up, COVID has not been nice to the filming of movies and TV shows while video games have gotten an increase in sales. People are beginning to rely on streaming services to get their favorite shows, leading to an increase in price and a likelihood of even more streaming services showing up. People are getting more exposed to the entertainment industry, mainly that of video games, with games such as Fall Guys and Among Us becoming extremely popular due to their colorful graphics and an easy-to-learn co-op mode that allows play with friends. The console generation has shifted towards the new PS5 due to the many delays such as Halo Infinite from the Xbox Series X side. The entertainment industry is currently undergoing a great renaissance, and it leaves many to ponder what will come out of it.

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