What is the Attention Economy?

Games aren't just competing with other games.

The biggest competitor of Fortnite isn’t PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or Apex Legends. The biggest competitor for Call of Duty isn’t Battlefield. It is surprisingly not even a video game. For those wondering why this is, this is what I will tell you in this short article about the attention economy.

The attention economy is unlike the money economy. If you are doing one activity, such as playing sports, you are most likely not playing video games or watching a movie at the same time, and therefore, at that time, you are one person who is not playing any video game or watching any movie or show or doing anything else. This means that not only are games competing with each other, but they are also competing with things like sports, or even just taking a walk to some extent. All activities are technically competing with each other.

Ever wonder why single player games seem to be in a rush to come out, even when they aren’t really competing for people, due to the fact that single player games don’t need other players to feel alive? It’s because if people play the new multiplayer game coming out at the time then there is a chance those players won’t buy the single player game.

This attention economy is not growing. Due to it not running on money and instead of running on people, the economy of attention is not growing due to low birth rates. This was fine back then when there were fewer activities to do, but now that there is so much to do and many different things to experience, companies and sponsors of all kinds of activities are fighting each other to get the most people to participate in their sponsored activity.

Back to this whole “Apex Legends is going to kill Fortnite!” talk. It is true that Apex is taking popularity from Fortnite, but also true that it is taking popularity from other multiplayer games at the same time since it is not likely you can play two games at once. The truth is, Fortnite is safer than a lot of smaller multiplayer games because it has enough people to stand another large game with a similar amount of people. Respawn’s new game is going to kill many smaller games before it gets to Fortnite if it ever does.

The attention economy can’t really shrink unless there is a population-killing event like the Black Death because the attention economy is tied to human lives. If humanity keeps going at this point, all kinds of activities will have enough participants, and there will be room for interesting, new activities, like augmented reality. As the human population increases, the attention economy grows.

One more thing about the attention economy is that the more capable people around, then the more possibility that they might invent a new activity, which will have people want to participate, which will cause the attention economy to grow.

In the end, all mediums are competing with each other for participants, because someone playing a video game isn’t watching TV and someone watching TV isn’t reading a book. This could be one reason why ads pop up on YouTube for things like movies, video games, and sports channels. Everybody’s competing for attention.