“There are a lot of people who don’t necessarily call themselves gamers… but they are technically gamers, because they’re gaming on their mobile device, which can be a very easy access point for them to get these games,” said Amir Ghodrati, Director of Market Insights at App Annie, speaking as a panelist on Hope and Hype of Cloud Gaming, a webinar hosted by TVBEurope.
“You don’t necessarily need to buy other hardware or things like that, because they’re already on your phone.”
The Fastest-Growing Video-Gaming Segment
Mobile devices are common access points for users of cloud gaming. There are few barriers to entry for new gamers, as cloud gaming on a mobile device typically doesn’t require any additional hardware.
In fact, mobile cloud gaming is expected to be the fastest-growing segment in an industry Juniper Research predicts it will grow to over $200 billion in 2023, up from $155 billion in 2020. Speaking in a separate interview with 6GWorld, Juniper Research Lead Analyst James Moar said he foresees consoles sticking around in some form, even if the advent of cloud gaming will prompt change.
“There will always be a need for some form of dedicated gaming hardware that will equate to being the console market, even if as we’ve seen with some of the latest developments the console gets more and more away from its roots and towards being a vessel for connectivity for games,” he said. “You’ll see features to facilitate cloud gaming and you won’t necessarily see discrete console games so much, but console gaming as an ecosystem will still be around, I think.”
Moar, who also hosts a podcast on the Elder Scrolls series of games called Written in Uncertainty, nevertheless agrees the key driver for cloud gaming is the lack of a requirement of expensive hardware. He sees 5G providing better speeds at lower cost, which will help the sector in general, including cloud gaming.
With the advent of 5G, cloud gaming on its own amounts to a $150 billion revenue opportunity for telecom operators according to a SapioResearch study. They would be in a position to offer network slices to cloud-gaming vendors, for instance. To name just two examples of possible operator roles, Microsoft just struck a deal with SK Telecom and Verizon is now Twitch’s official 5G network partner. In Ghodrati’s opinion, the growth prospects are due to the mobile aspect.
“A very large portion of that is just because there is so many people that have mobile devices,” he said.
Speaking during the same panel as Ghodrati, Microsoft Industry lead for Media & Telecommunications Stuart Almond echoed the sentiment and called cloud gaming a common “plug.”
“They don’t need necessarily the console, the device. They’re not waiting for a cartridge to turn up at the local shop to actually play the game. The whole way that games can be accessed is a lot more instant and (offers) a lot more choice as well,” he said.
Cloud Gaming’s Call to Improve Latency and Jitter
“Just actually having that demand… is going to change and drive industry towards technology to kind of answer that a lot quicker,” Almond remarked, adding that he sees a transformation already taking place in that regard, pointing to a reduction in latency as removing a difficult hurdle.
Meanwhile Blacknut CEO Olivier Avaro pointed to jitter, or the fluctuation of latency, which he likened to a drummer of a band playing at a different rhythm relative to everyone else, as being the main obstacle between gamers and a truly immersive experience in the future. Laurent Depersin, the Research & Innovation Home Lab Director at InterDigital, agreed on both fronts.
“This will be the challenge for the next generation of cloud gaming,” Depersin said, also looking beyond 5G towards 6G. “We will look at improving the latency and reducing the jitter for cloud gaming… We will reach a motion-to-photon experience, which means we are reducing the latency so much that it is really providing the expected experience that you would have if the game was live and close to you.”
Depersin said the current target is under 50 milliseconds. As an illustration, there could be a lag of about 60 ms for someone in the U.S. playing a game on a German-hosted server. Meanwhile, Depersin relayed how the latency target for 6G is around 100 microseconds, which he said would give the illusion of a live event and lead to greater interactivity.
In fact, an in-webinar poll taken by attendees suggested the main drivers behind the sector’s growth were the proliferation of 5G and enhanced video streaming capabilities. Both options ended up with 30.8% of the vote. Avaro was optimistic about the potential for both from a cloud-gaming standpoint.
“This new way of consumption is going to change the kind of experience we can provide, the same way Netflix changed the way television series are produced, not only how they’re consumed with streaming, but how they’re produced and delivered to the customer,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to what 6G can bring and the kind of new content, the kind of new entertainment experience we can bring to the world.”
With journalism credits spanning several sectors including finance and tech, Ryan joins 6GWorld with wide eyes looking onward. He aims to lend his experience to the site, covering the latest generation of cellular advancements as it unfolds, leading into 6G.