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What Does 5G Really Mean for Cloud Gaming

Here is the bottom-line. If cloud gaming is going to work then there needs to be no latency at all. Without 5G you will click to read the review and there will be a torrent of abuse.  If you are playing in a co-op game you cannot experience buffering. The experience must be instantaneous for all players involved else the whole game will be ruined – for all users. Consequently, the emergence of cloud gaming makes the need for satisfactory bandwidth essential and so the desire for 5G connectivity increases to meet these expectations.


What is cloud gaming?

Cloud gaming imitates the model used by Netflix and other digital media suppliers. Rather than buy an individual games console and game, you subscribe to a gaming service and play these games straight from the cloud. Gone are the days of long, long downloads and cross-platform incompatibility. Now a gamer could be instantly playing a game on a PlayStation controller against someone who is using a keyboard and mouse. Better still, high-quality games could now be available on a mobile phone to be played anywhere where the gamer chooses to pick up the adventure. The game progress will be saved in the server and picked up on whatever device is being used.


The problem

Bandwidth. Bandwidth is the problem. Such a streaming service would require a reliable internet connection with huge data streams. Without this the complex worlds created by gamemakers would simply not work on a streaming model. Therefore, one of two things will happen. One, the games will simplify to an extent that sends our experience back a couple of decades, or two, players will only be able to play in single-player mode to avoid latency issues.


Why? Well, as a Deloitte’s survey revealed, less that half of US consumers are very satisfied with their home-connectivity. You would need 100% of consumers to feel that the home connection was fast and reliable for the success of such a service. Indeed, less that 30% of US homes have high-speed connectivity, which would be a base requirement. Equally, most households have around 11 devices competing for internet bandwidth – not least your Smart TV streaming those videos you love. 60% of downstream internet traffic was from streamed video.


The connectivity needed for cloud gaming will be significantly more demanding than those from streamed video services. So, if you get the donut now while you are looking to watch Netflix, your internet is not going to cope with cloud gaming. You need some numbers? Well, typical video content streamed to your TV requires 1.5 Mbps, if it is a 4K screen this is closer to 25 Mbps. Now a cloud streaming service will need a steady 35 Mbps to render on your 4K TV.


Now, while there is lots you can do to enhance your downstream connectivity, due to the interactivity of gaming you need a lot of upstream performance too. There will definitely be a need for additional edge computing infrastructure to make this work. 


The Solution

5G will offer 4 Gbps of bandwidth over the air and through other dynamically managed connections. Therefore, 5G unleashes the full potential of cloud gaming. Younger respondents to Deloitte’s survey were clear that 5G would revolutionize the way they receive content of all varieties. Many respondents claimed that the possibilities of cloud gaming was the main driver for wanting to adopt 5G.


It will not only revolutionize connectivity into the home. Most smartphone providers now accept that the next gen phones will also be roaming game consoles. Therefore, 5G will bring cable and fiber speed service to this phone-based gaming experience. While gaming is an obvious impetus to tech giants seeking to develop this 5G technology, it will also improve the consumer’s demand for watching and sharing video – as well as accessing the next-generation media experiences that are likely to be data-hungry.

Cloud gaming will destroy your ability to do anything else on your broadband at home, no matter how ultra-fast it claims to be. Imagine every child in your house connecting to Netflix in a separate room… everyone will be waiting for that donut to stop spinning. Well, this will be the reality with just one gamer connected to a cloud service. Consequently, technology in connectivity has to catch up with the tech demands of users. Therefore, 5G is the only answer to allowing cloud gaming services to flourish. It is not just in the home anymore either – that connectivity offered by 5G can take that gaming experience anywhere. Exciting times!

This is a paid guest post.

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