Visual novels that once only used to cater to small and niche audiences in Japan (1). However, they are now entering the mainstream. Their popularity is surging rapidly, with subreddit subscribers getting nearly doubled in the past eight months, surging to 185,000 plus members (2).
Visual novels are struggling the border between a game and a story. Here the readers can make choices but in an interactive and video game format. They were traditionally released in Japanese, and it featured anime art. However, they are now branching out to include multiple generous levels of immersion and illustration style (3). Since the development of a visual novel is fast, simple, and needs lower cost, one can also create his own.
Let’s talk about online chess. It is one of Twitch’s fastest-growing categories, with more than 15 million hours watched last year. Some YouTube channels have witnessed weekly views increase by 40,000 (4).
According to Jungle Scout, offline chess is also growing with soaring increases in Amazon searches for chess board sets, with a 210% increase with 6200 searches. In the last month, chess set for adults also increased by 154% with 189,000 searches.
According to Google trends (5), there was the biggest peak in chess interest in chess over the past five when Netflix embraced chess: The Queen’s Gambit ranked as the number one most popular show since its release with 100% rotten tomatoes.
“Chess.com has been streaming on Twitch since 2016, and in May of 2020, we had about 175,000 followers. As of September, we had over 350,000, which is an increase of 100% within only a few months.” – Nick Barton, the director of business development at Chess.com (6).
There is also a surge in coffee and tea mug popularity, with a subreddit dedicated to mug lovers soaring from 25000 members to 70000 members over the last three months (7).
The Rise of Visual Novels
Visual novels, many times abbreviated as VNs, a genre of gaming that heavily focuses on text-based storytelling, originated from Japan. One can also think of it as a multimedia novel with a lot of text, like an ebook with visual and audio material and gameplay mechanics on top.
While they are reasonably popular in Japan, visual novels have started a lot of attention in the mainstream.
However, whether they are game or not is a tough question to answer. At the core, visual novels are interactive digital fiction. Visual novels contain branching narrative where people make key decisions at certain points that will affect what happens further. It also includes the ultimate ending.
While some visual novels only have a few major branchers, others could have hundreds of choices and dozens of endings. Regardless, a pure visual novel does not have game mechanics; they have the total of your narrative choices where you can affect its course and outcome.
In a way, visual novels are like game stories if they have some game mechanics added. And it happens often. It is not a game but then not a book, but they still have a unique charm. Today, there are plenty of visual novels from all across the world. They once started as a Japanese phenomenon, but now they are global (8).
They are most available for computers though handhelds and consoles have seen more than a few major releases. Yet, in the past few years, something surprising has been happening.
They have started infiltrating the North American gaming scenes. It is available in a sizeable assortment of visual novels appropriate for audiences of all ages. These days, independent developers try to combine visual novels with other game genres to lure in more people who normally would not be interested.
Entrepreneurs could offer customized visual novels on the client’s favorite characters or personal stories. They can also look into the children’s market, which is untapped by VNs. Here stories could revolve around making moral choices since it would receive growing positive interest.
Such moral dilemma stories could be a great way to entertain, educate, and inspire people at the same time.
There is also an opportunity to offer better translations for traditional Japanese VNs.
Chess is Soaring
The game of kings is more trending than ever, with more than 600 million players worldwide. Tens of thousands of viewers are tuning in to watch people play chess on Twitch’s live streaming website. It is an American chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, and several celebrities of the video game world are leading the masses towards the ancient game.
The renaissance in chess is happening because of the live-streaming technology video game culture and the grandmaster’s exceptional skills as a chess player and an entertainer.
Since 2015, chess viewership has witnessed an exponential growth on Twitch. Previously, there were merely 59 people watching chess streams at any given time. Now there are at least 4,000 people. In 2020 alone, viewers have spent more than 38 million hours of chess.
“Nothing compares with the rise it experienced in recent months when some of the top streamers, such as xQc, Reckful, and LIRIK, streamed it. While the chess community has achieved a lot of success on its own, this latest move illustrates the power of influencers to broaden the appeal of a brand.”
– Doron Nir, the CEO of Stream Elements (9).
There is no denying that this ancient game has found a new, receptive, and passionate audience.
Hikaru Nakamaru (10) is a five-times US chess champion and the youngest American to achieve the grandmaster title. He has more than 1 million viewers an hour on Twitch.
He has been a big part of the growth. Hikaru is the top-ranked blitz player globally and fourth-ranked in rapid chess, as per the FIDE rankings, making him one of the best chess players on the planet.
He also recently signed with a major esports league. It is a sign that the game is close to the same level as any other esports (11).
The biennial Chess Olympiad, an Olympics for chess, could see an additional brand sponsorship and live stream commentators. It could be a step beyond the streamers on YouTubes they had as judges online this year.
While picking up a chess streamer may sound like a surprise to people who are used to watching Call of Duty and Fortnite on Twitch. It has been one of its fastest-growing categories for more than the last several months. During the COVID-19 pandemic, chess has gained a major following with higher than usual YouTube views and frequent visits to the top 20 most games on Twitch.
Beyond streaming, entrepreneurs could also create a TL; DR course for chess. It is worth highlighting that the beginner’s guide on Chess.com gets more than 19,400 visits every month, according to Keywords Everywhere. They could also offer bonus lectures with popular grandmaster in true MasterClass style.
There other international chess champions who see opportunities in sports betting as well. One can take this opportunity to capitalize on the rapidly growing sports gambling sector (12).
Surging Volume of Mug Lovers
People love having tea and coffee, and now their love is also moving towards mugs. There are a variety of funky and stylish mugs in the market. They come with different artistic designs and messages, and people do not waste any seconds buying them.
If you are not sipping your morning coffee or tea from a handcrafted creation or a trendy store, then you need to step up your mug game. People who drink tea or coffee regularly then you can never have too many mugs.
While a dirty coffee mug won’t stop people from gulping their daily jolt of coffee, people have started to believe that it is better to start each day fresh, giving rise to practical yet stylish mugs people can’t stop getting over.
One can start capitalizing on the trend using different strategies. Entrepreneurs could create and sell customized or commissioned mugs. According to Keywords Everywhere, monthly search volumes regarding mugs are high, with Personalized mugs getting 110,000 searches and customized mugs with 33,100 searches.
Along with spending money on finding the best coffee beans and brewing kit, coffee drinkers are no longer neglecting their mugs. There are different types of mugs available in the market. It includes ceramic mugs, glass mugs, plastic mugs, porcelain mugs, and stone mugs.
Apart from these, there may be an opportunity to craft handmade gems that tie with recent cottagecore and bohemian decor trends. Entrepreneurs could also offer mug fans the choice to craft their unique creations. Notably, searches for ‘pottery classes near me’ have surged 480% since March and now is sitting at 49,500 a month, as per Keywords Everywhere.
On the subreddit (13), there is also a flood of interesting thrift-store finds. One can also snap up cheap and unique deals at secondhand stores and resell them. One could also offer an online marketplace for fans to sell or swap their thrift mugs.
Smart entrepreneurs are always searching for an edge. They want to know the latest trends and how they can use them to build and grow a business (14). For every trend that enhances a future star, any number that’s ignored, leaving potential consumers looking for solutions and opportunities for established firms to fulfill their requirements.
Nevertheless, the timely identification of these trends (15) and using correct ways to capitalize on them can take you a long way.