5G stands to unlock opportunities throughout the Internet of things (IoT), from logistics to heavy industry, robotics to autonomous vehicles. Existing applications of cellular connectivity will find themselves enhanced significantly, while the lifting of traditional barriers to entry—speed, latency, network availability—will open up new applications and revenue streams that simply weren’t possible before.
One area likely to benefit hugely from 5G connectivity is mobile gaming, not only in the multiplayer arena—which has always commanded fast speeds and low latency—but in the emerging cloud gaming market. While the onset of true performance through 5G may take some time, the ultimate aim is high-fidelity 5G cloud gaming on mobile.
A new report, The Evolution of Gaming Through 5G, highlights the impact that 5G is set to have on the future of mobile gaming. This report, by Arm and Newzoo, explores the history of mobile gaming and the impact that the evolution of mobile networks has had. Overall, it paints a picture of cloud gaming as a major touchpoint between consumers and 5G on the mobile platform.
Cloud gaming brings immersive experiences anywhere, anytime, to any screen
Cloud gaming describes the process of rendering a game in the cloud or hosting a game on the cloud and then rendering it on the device, and delivering the visual output to any screen, be it a smartphone, smart TV, or computer. It’s set to level the playing field for gaming experiences, blurring the lines between mobile, console, and PC gaming (and perhaps even calming the long-fought war over which is best).
While outsourcing compute-intensive gaming workloads—3D rendering, physics simulation, motion effects and so on—reduces on-device processing requirements significantly, the amount of data flowing to and from the device increases vastly. As a result, the high speeds and low latency of 5G will be vital if cloud gaming is to deliver the premium mobile experience needed to win consumers over.
How the mobile market is meeting 5G cloud gaming requirements
Yet it’s not as simple as streaming high-end console and PC gaming experiences to a mobile device. A touchscreen is a very different input device to a console controller or traditional mouse and keyboard. Not to mention, a common complaint from mobile gamers is the difficulty of being able to control games through the touchscreen alone. However, the reliance on the mobile touchscreen for gaming could change quickly through the development of new controller hardware. With 5G enabling a true cross-platform gaming experience, more premium titles are being made available on mobile, demanding a more effective control method.
For this reason, mobile game controllers are likely to increase. OEMs are already looking into developing the necessary hardware: Microsoft is experimenting with prototype Xbox controllers for phones and tablets, PS4 has controllers for Android mobile devices and Razer has recently launched its Junglecat controller to support cloud gaming on mobile.
Meanwhile, the device itself may evolve to accommodate a better experience: innovative form factors such as foldable phones may become the devices of choice for tomorrow’s mobile gamers.
Revenue opportunities for MNOs
5G cloud gaming experiences are already forming part of many MNOs’ go-to-market strategies for 5G customer acquisition, with a hope that the more immersive experiences on offer will grow into a both a revenue stream for telcos and key differentiator for consumers. In the US, Hatch and Sprint have already joined forces to showcase cloud gaming as a key reason to move to 5G.
Unlocking future potential
As well as 5G cloud gaming, Seamless XR (Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality) gaming will also be one step closer to reality as the cloud and 5G make XR quicker and smoother for the user. The real-time processing of data-intensive XR will be faster, helping to bring XR-based gaming experiences to the next level in terms of complexity and digital immersion. Users on 5G-ready mobile devices can expect an immersive gameplay experience at a smooth 60 frames per second.
Faster, low-latency, high-bandwidth 5G networks will provide game-changing opportunities for the entire ecosystem and in the next few years I expect to see a whole range of new use cases emerge, from interactive live streaming to immersive entertainment.
Arm is at the center of immersive gaming experiences from the cloud to the edge and endpoint. We are working with partners such as Hatch, Google, Epic and Unity to optimize mobile gaming performance on Arm-based SoCs.
Download the Evolution of Gaming Through 5G report and learn more about 5G’s transformative impact on gaming.