The times, they are a-changing. Obviously, the havoc that’s been wreaked by COVID-19 has changed how we do many things over the past few months, consuming entertainment chief among them. Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney thinks that’s only the beginning, and that we’re going to see greater shifts in the long term, as he discussed in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz.
Mahoney thinks that “there’s going to be a new generation of major entertainment companies” that emerge out of the COVID mess. As he put it: “Think about it: On January 1, who was the king of all media? It was clearly Disney. And Disney’s business across the board has just been decimated by this transition to virtual that is required by COVID.” As a result, Mahoney thinks will be new or undervalued IPs looking to fill that gap, and he wants Nexon to pick up portions of that potential “new class of winners.”
It’s as old an investment strategy as there is — buying low to (potentially) sell high. And, temporary as COVID will be, it’s probably pushed a number of companies to their financial limits, so they’d welcome the investment of cash to stay afloat. And Nexon has cash: “up to $1.5 billion,” Mahoney said, of which half has already been spent. He isn’t ready yet to announce what those companies are, but he used the example of Marvel being bought by Disney and the subsequent leveraging of its IPs into an entertainment superpower.
Mahoney does think that “linear” entertainment, such as watching sports or movies at a set time from start to finish, is on its way out. He thinks that people will consume entertainment “in a much more interactive way” in the future, that a “generational shift” is underway in both how we enjoy and write about entertainment. “My kids have no interest in sitting back and going to a movie theater for two hours,” he said. “It’s just not a part of their entertainment life.”
None of these are exactly earth-shattering revelations. Those of us embedded in virtual worlds, who spend hours per day on our phones and have cast away cable for streaming services, think of it as just part of our regular lives now. That said, a significant percentage of the population, especially the older generation, still consumes entertainment in the traditional manner. Entertainment companies recognize that and still devote a large portion of their resources into courting them. That might be changing, especially now that COVID has forced even the most stodgy of individuals to rethink their preferences, so it will be interesting to see what companies — Nexon and others — benefit the most from the change.