Since the advent of the internet, many of the things we enjoy the most in our leisure time have gone digital. Our newspapers and magazines are now available to consume online, while streaming services like Netflix have helped deliver a new world of entertainment on our laptops, tablets and phones.
In music, physical media has endured purely as a collectible, with most new tracks and albums enjoyed through streaming services like Spotify. Streaming now accounts for the vast majority of listening, although many purists still swear by the classic sound of vinyl.
Sport is online, with more and more competitions providing apps and services delivered over a connection, as opposed to satellite dish or TV signal, and we’ve even seen the emergence of an entirely new industry.
The world of esports, which sees expert computer game players compete against one another, is on track to hit a value of $1.5bn by 2023, while prize money up for grabs is regularly in the six figures, as competitors battle through tournament brackets in search of the crown.
The world of iGaming has also enjoyed a similar transition. And, though trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City are still popular, the online casino industry is booming.
The sector has become that big that websites now help new players navigate the platforms available and hunt out their next casino bonus so they can enjoy the full range of games on offer.
In truth, there are countless other examples of entertainment sectors receiving a digital makeover that has helped deliver them to more people than ever before in an interactive and immersive way – while making big bucks.
It’s the $370 billion collectibles industry that perhaps offers the most intriguing possibilities as we look to the future.
Cryptocurrency, spearheaded by Bitcoin, has been on our radar for several years, but the concept of ‘crypto-collectibles’ is less established.
For generations, keen fans have collected everything from baseball cards to bottle caps and many of the brands behind those lines are experimenting with the idea of adapting the format digitally.
Major League Baseball has released a line of virtual baseball cards, while it’s also possible to collect virtual works of art, generated by artificial intelligence, and even virtual diamonds. Whether or not this concept takes hold like cryptocurrency has, remains to be seen, although Forbes recently estimated that the industry could be worth as much as $200 billion in the years ahead.
Digital collectibles appeal to consumers because they are impossible to steal or counterfeit and technology can be used to make each collectible generated completely unique to the person who created it. Almost anything can be adapted in this way and the items collected can appreciate in value like physical items, dictated by aspects like rarity and historical significance. They can also be swapped, gifted and sold like any ‘real world’ item.
It’s reasonable to expect physical collectibles, like trading cards and souvenirs, to remain desirable, but much like in music, there could be a whole new world of collectibles to be discovered digitally – all from the comfort of our phones, tablets and laptops.