Entertainment Software

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Definition of Entertainment Software

Entertainment software can be described as specific forms of software that serve an entertaining or amusing purpose. Although entertainment software is often solely associated with video games, music/movie streaming services, or social networking applications, it can be used for educational or informative purposes.

Characteristics of Entertainment Software

  • Its main purpose is to provide entertainment or support a specific hobby.
  • It can have informative or educational value.
  • The most popular formats of entertainment software are gaming software, multimedia software, and simulation software.

Gaming Software

Gaming software generally involves the manipulation of moving figures or characters on an electronic screen. Although usually played through specialized game machines called consoles (Xbox, PlayStation), video games can be played through computers or mobile devices. Depending on the type of game and the version being played, gaming software can be played offline or through computer networks/the Internet. They often involve multiplayer interaction, complex interfaces, and enhanced graphics. Although a large majority of games available through the Internet are free to play/use, most gaming software involves a purchase or multiple micro-transactions. (1)

  • Examples:
    1. Candy Crush—Candy Crush is a free game until you reach level 35. After that you must pay $0.99 to advance to the next level. Although you start off with five lives, you must wait thirty minutes after losing lives to continue playing. You are able to speed up this process by purchasing additional lives at different price levels. (2)
    2. World of Warcraft A type of Massively Multiplayer Online Game, World of Warcraft can be played on a Mac or Windows PC. There is a free trial of the game, but it does not include all the elements of the actual game. There are a number of game versions that you must purchase for $19.99 in order to reach higher levels. Despite needing to purchase multiple expansion packs, World of Warcraft also requires a subscription fee after buying all the required items to play the game. (3)

Multimedia Software

Multimedia software generally involves a combination of sound, video, imagery, text, or similar types of interactive content. Multimedia software also accounts for media players that provide playback options for the interactive content. Multimedia platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube, account for a large portion of the world's Internet traffic. Typically, educational software involves multimedia elements. (4)

  • Examples:
    1. Netflix —An example of a multimedia playback option, Netflix provides streaming services to allow its subscribers to access television series or movies on a variety of supported platforms. Although previously only accessible through the Internet, Netflix now includes an offline playback option. To gain access to any of Netflix's features, you have to purchase a basic subscription package. (5)
    2. iMovie —Only available through Mac and iOS, iMovie is a video editing software application that allows users to create movie files, add music and stylistic elements to imported footage, and splice and edit video content. (6)
    3. Pandora —Pandora Internet Radio is a form of music streaming software that uses algorithms in order to generate personalized radio stations. (7)

Simulation Software

A relatively new type of software, simulation software involves the interplay of advanced graphics and mathematical formulas to virtually simulate real world activities in real-time. One of the more modern formats of simulation software is Virtual Reality (VR), which uses virtual reality headsets and game controllers to generate images and audio to simulate a user's presence in a virtual environment. A large number of technology-centered companies and corporations—including Google, Apple, Amazon, and Samsung—have allocated a large number of employees and resources to the development of VR platforms. (8)

  • Examples:
    1. Oculus Rift
    2. Unity 3D

Acquisition Models

1. Shareware
Includes a fee and can be used on a trial basis before paying a fee. The copyright holder has all of the rights. (9)

  • Examples include:
  1. Trial discs
  2. Free demos
  3. "Lite version" applications

2. Freeware
Freeware can be downloaded and is free of charge. Unlike shareware, it will not ask you for payment to continue utilizing the software, but it usually incorporates advertising to generate some form of revenue. (10)

  • Examples include:
  1. IMVU
  2. Second Life

3. Open Source
Open source software includes a license for programmers to modify, change, or update the source code. (11)

  • Examples include:
  1. Mozilla Firefox
  2. 2048

4. Massively Multiplayer Online Games
Massively Multiplayer Online Games can be played free of charge, but they often include advertising, micro-transactions, or optional memberships. At times, certain games can cause computer problems including viruses, worms, and malware. They also can also have unsecured servers. (12) Generally, there are three popular sub-genres:

1. Role-Playing—Features a strong story line.

  • Examples include:
  1. World of Warcraft
  2. EverQuest

2. First-Person Shooter—Features a weaker story line and some form of combat.

  • Examples include:
  1. Destiny
  2. PlanetSide

3. Strategy—An extremely strategic genre where players are required to use their logic in order to create plans throughout the game.

  • Examples include:
  1. Dawn of Fantasy
  2. DarkSpace

Entertainment Software Association

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) was created to provide interactive entertainment software publishers services such as anti-piracy programs, business/consumer research, government relations, and intellectual property protection efforts. Some of the well-known companies that are members of the ESA are Activision Blizzard Inc., Microsoft, Electronic Arts Inc., Ubisoft, Sony Interactive Entertainment America, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. (13)

Following the creation of the ESA, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was created to assign age and content ratings, advertising guidelines, and online privacy principles for computer and video games. (14)


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