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With 5G, the sky is the limit for Cloud Gaming

FILE PHOTO: Hanging cubes display 5G logos at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo FILE PHOTO: Hanging cubes display 5G logos at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Hanging cubes display 5G logos at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo (REUTERS)

In Cloud Gaming, the game is run on a nearby server at the edge of the cloud rather than in the central data centers and streamed to the player’s device. Delivering a rich, smooth experience, therefore, calls for low latency and high-speed connectivity – both of which are easily achieved with 5G.

Gaming has come a long way since it first became available on PCs and gaming consoles several decades ago. Today, gaming has become quite commonplace on mobile handheld devices. And people are not only entertaining themselves with gaming, they are also watching live streams of games being played by professional players. Gaming has evolved into eSports and many have been able to participate in competitive gaming even while sitting in the comforts of their homes. This trend is going to continue and evolve further.5G and Edge Computing technologies have the potential to do away with the need for a consumer to invest in expensive gaming hardware, These technologies are enabling Cloud Gaming services on smartphones and tablets with experiences that are comparable to those on more expensive, console-like devices. This opens opportunities for reaching out to a very large user segment comprising of casual gamers, professional and competitive gamers, and others. Globally, many 5G service providers have announced mobile cloud gaming services on a subscription basis or as a bundled offering with 5G data plans.

Advanced gaming use cases will enable service providers to cater to a large yet-to-be-addressed business opportunity, leveraging a combination of 5G and AI. Already, many of them are developing original content for their subscribers. It is possible that Cloud Gaming providers could similarly develop games that adapt not only to the specifications of the mobile devices used by gamers but also to the context of the respective environments in which they are located. Such AI-enabled Cloud games can create a highly immersive gaming experience for users.

5G-enabled Cloud Gaming as a means of entertainment and productivity

In Cloud Gaming, the game is run on a nearby server at the edge of the cloud rather than in the central data centers and streamed to the player’s device. Delivering a rich, smooth experience, therefore, calls for low latency and high-speed connectivity – both of which are easily achieved with 5G. Not only that, 5G is ideal for handling the heightened data demand that will arise from the increasing numbers of gamers. Although Cloud Gaming services are presently available only in big cities in some of the countries that have deployed 5G networks, they will become mainstream with the adoption of 5G across the world. Consumers will then be able to access or stream AAA mobile games faster than before and independent of their device platform, either from a Cloud Gaming service provider or directly from the game’s publishers. It will be like the gaming equivalent of a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. As a result, consumers will not need to download every game on the device but still be able to enjoy a wide bouquet of games on any device.

Cloud Gaming will also open new ways for people to engage with games. For instance, players will be able to view and learn through other players’ screens, produce in-game content that can be streamed on multiple platforms, or share their virtual assets. Cloud Gaming can enable multiplayer or collaborative options even for games that are not originally designed as multiplayer games. However, its applications are not limited to gaming alone; Cloud Gaming can also be used to offer other forms of entertainment such as listening to music or watching videos together or to enable productive activities such as screen-sharing for teams working from home.

Enabling service providers and publishers to create greater value

For developers, the ability to create a game once and deploy it across multiple device platforms is possibly the biggest advantage of Cloud Gaming. It lowers development costs by reducing the effort required to code, test, and certify games for multiple device platforms. Cloud Gaming also allows developers to introduce new forms of gameplay and interaction (such as virtual reality and in-game tutorials), or support user-generated content such as levels, characters, or events. Developers can also leverage the power of the Cloud to introduce powerful analytics services or even launch their own GaaS and subscription models.

The rise of Cloud Gaming will see the emergence of new startups offering alternatives to subscription-based gaming models, such as pay-per-play, or micro-transactions for adding extra features to a game. Personalization of the gameplay, recommendations, leverage of user settings across multiple games, etc. will soon become possible. There is no doubt that 5G-based Cloud Gaming can expand the selection of mobile games for users, outside the Android and iOS stores.

5G can thus unlock the full potential of mobile Cloud Gaming for both consumers and businesses. Gamers will benefit from richer gaming experiences, while service providers, game publishers, and developers can explore new business opportunities. Although the mobile Cloud Gaming market is still in its infancy, there are already more than 2.4 billion mobile gamers globally (according to the market data company Statista) and Asia is one of the biggest markets. India, with a third of its population comprising of centennials, and with the launch of 5G eagerly awaited, could well become one of the world leaders in driving the adoption of Cloud Gaming and creating tremendous value for network operators, service providers, publishers, and consumers alike.

This article has been written by Sachin Kalantri, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Qualcomm India.

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