Cohen discusses technological trends and how changes in the cost of production and distribution are playing out in the areas of music, film and computer gaming. He analyzes how the respective business models of those industries leave them with different possibilities to adapt to the new environment.
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|While we're studying trends
|there are a lot of trends to look at.
|Currently the cost of disc drives is plummeting
|and has been plummeting at a truly ludicrous rate.
|However the speed of internet connections hasn't been growing anywhere near as fast.
|To the point where drives have been getting cheaper
|but not bigger as fast as you might expect
|simply because people can't fill them.
|They can't download enough stuff to fill them.
|At some point you can download anything instantly.
|However, for starters you can move up to HD quality video
|for everything that you watch
|which people are definitely going to want to do.
|And that gets you a couple more years of net connections
|not being anywhere near fast enough.
|And you can possibly go up higher than that.
|There are a number of other trends going on.
|The costs of production of all kinds of things are definitely going down
|The costs of production of audio have already pretty much bottomed-out,
|in that the equipment costs so little it's ridiculous
|And mostly when you're recording something your primary concern
|is getting a decent sound-proof room
|and most people have one of those in their house already
|and the toilet doesn't really distort the sound too much.
|So the recording industry is having this problem now
|that new artists know that they don't want to get signed.
|And they've read the various essays talking
|about what an incredibly bad deal getting signed can really wind up being.
|And they have their music themselves and they're distributing it online
|which is pretty good for them, not so good for the people who are traditionally resellers.
|They have a problem.
|So, in the case of... now that doesn't mean that music isn't getting produced --
|quite the contrary, tonnes of music is getting produced
|and lots of people who would otherwise have trouble reaching an audience
|via their music can because in the past you were completely beholden
|to what you could possibly get played on the radio
|and now you can just
|put your stuff online and lots and lots
|of bands are getting followings that way, however
|the traditional industry of how music is distributed
|is having to reorganize.
|Now in the case of video, costs are definitely going down
|not as much as in the case of audio
|but things are shuffling around in interesting ways.
|Right now reality television is getting very popular.
|I personally am rather fond of just about the trashiest
|reality television you could possibly find
|Now this sort of seems like it's a great innovation in narrative form,
|which, it more or less is.
|However there is something else going on here
|which is that the cost of film is getting very very cheap.
|So in the past, film was so incredibly expensive, inherently
|that you would never dream of having people literally goof off
|in front of it in the hopes that they did something interesting.
|And now it's gotten so cheap
|that you can do exactually that.
|And all of a sudden the big problem is editing this mass of garbage
|down into something compelling.
|So that hasn't actually made overall costs of production
|that much cheaper
|but it's definitely shuffled things around quite a bit
|We've also seen some other interesting trends
|that product placement is getting much much more prominent
|than it has been in the past
|It's not at the point yet of... with some exceptions
|but for the most part it's not at the point of literally
|making something just for the product placement,
|but it might very well get there.
|It sure looks like it's close with some of the things I've seen lately.
|Now, in the case of games that's very interesting
|because games basically has it all figured out.
|In games whatever client software runs, by and large
|you can just download and run.
|The problem is, for a consumer, software doesn't do much unless it's talking
|to the central service.
|If it's not connected to the service it's not much of a game.
|There's no interaction with other people.
|There's no getting critical information about what is happening to you
|as you're playing. You basically can't play, and the whole entire games industry
|was traditionally based off of people writing all this stuff
|and having a few really big hits and most of them are failures.
|And it's mostly continued to be the very same thing.
|It's run off of a few really big hits.
|And most of them are failures
|and the main shift has been there's an online play component
|which has been very compelling
|Users love it, it adds a whole new dimension to the experience
|but it also makes it straight forward to have scarcity in it.
|It makes it easy to charge people to play the game.
|And interestingly the thing that people are afraid of happening
|to video has had the exact opposite thing happen in games
|in that people are worried about not being able to get together the money
|to have the sorts of productions we've had in the past for video.
|Now it's not like that's unprecedented.
|Live performances had budgets in the past which
|just will never happen again.
|But if games are any indication the exact opposite thing might happen
|and there are games that cost over a hundred million dollars now
|which is phenomenal, it's just astounding.
|In the past when I was a kid a game was two people
|for 6 months. And they make a game.
|The change is not necessarily all good
|Games look a lot better, they look a lot more polished, they have a lot more
|production values but the amount of innovation in game engines has just plummeted,
|there's very very little left because if you're going to
|spend tens of millions of dollars making a game
|you're not going to use some experimental game engine
|which might or might not work
|you're going to use something which you know works.
|And with a few notable exceptions that's by and large what everybody does.