5G is a game-changer (pun intended) for the entire gaming industry. While India is not there yet (5G rollout is expected to happen by the end of 2021 or early 2022), we cater to the global game design industry.
That’s why every game design institute, gaming studio and game artist should pay attention to the explosive impact of 5G on gaming.
What is 5G, And What Will It Do For Gaming?
There are 4 generations of networks that cell phones can use. The first was 1G, and it was an analogue network that allowed us to make just calls. Then came 2G, 2.5G (GPRS), 2.75G (EDGE), 3G and 4G, which were all digital networks. All of them used radio frequencies. The difference was the speed with which they could transfer data.
We now have 5G, which can do more. A lot more.
Instead of the usual Megahertz frequencies, 5G utilises a very high-frequency range, about 30 to 300 GHz. How does that help? It enables every 5G device to access a bandwidth that is not already jam-packed with billions of smartphones, hundreds of satellites and innumerable Wi-Fi networks.
It means a 5G network connection is better. Significantly better.
In one second, with a 5G phone, you can transfer 10 Gigabits or even higher. Want to download a movie? You can do it in less than a second. Even when hundreds of other people are using the same connection!
That’s what 5G brings to the table – lightning-fast speed without any lag, empowering technology to go much further.
3 Things Gamers And Gaming Sector Need To Know About 5G
5G is fast. At peak speed, it’s 20X faster than 4G. If it takes you 10 minutes to download 1 game in 4G, in 5G, you can download 20 games in the same time.
But blazing and reliable speed is just one feature of the technology; there are 3 more that impact gaming:
- 5G has low latency.
Games have latency. When you’re playing, it takes around 20 milliseconds for you to see something on the screen. It takes a few more milliseconds to understand it and then react to it. After that, there is a slight delay before the action you take happens on the screen. This is latency, and it is part and parcel of game design. So, it makes sense if the speed of the connection is fast, latency is lower, and the experience is better.Having 5G technology just ripping the cord of latency problems is so important.
– Mari Takahashi ( AtomicMari )
With 5G, the latency is as less as 5 milliseconds. In the gaming world, the difference of 15 milliseconds is huge. Include all the other activities your mind is diverted with, and those few precious fractions of a second could mean the life or death of your League of Legend character.
- 5G makes VR/AR a reality.
The reason VR and AR gaming has not become mainstream is the computational power it requires. Right now, mobiles don’t have the processing power VR and AR need. So, they reduce the speed of phones to a snail’s pace. With 5G, this will not be an issue because all the computational power will live in a cloud. That means VR headsets will not cords. More than that, game design graphics will be in high resolutions and completely seamless, offering a real and tactical experience to gamers.
- 5G allows game streaming.
Currently, gaming needs commitment. You have to pick a platform and then stick to it. It could be a console, phone, TV, or PC, but you have to complete the game on it once chosen. “The hardware and screens that consumers use are a non-factor. If graphics are rendered on the cloud, consumers can access game content on whichever screen they like…”5G will make gaming platform-agnostic because it allows streaming. Like you can stream any show or TV on Netflix or Amazon Prime, you will be able to stream a game. This has not been possible with 3G or 4G because they had delayed input response. 5G gives higher throughputs because it cloud-based.
What Will Be The Effect Of 5G On Game Design & Development?
Over the past two decades, the video game industry has undergone a sea change. Yet, there is one ceiling it has not been able to shatter. Gamers need the right hardware to enjoy a game.
5G will finally break this status quo. For instance, gamers will not have to worry about the latest release of Fortnite draining the mobile battery in minutes or eating up its power.
Moreover, the choice of games gets limited to the hardware. That’s another challenge 5G solves. Yes, games like Call of Duty offer PC and console cross-play, but not with mobiles. By moving all the processing capabilities on the cloud, 5G enables mobile integration too.
Moving beyond the gaming community that sits on one side of the consoles, let’s see how 5G changes game design and development.
- The challenge of writing code
With 5G making it possible to play the same game on any platform, writing code for them will be a challenge. Each video game will need to be compatible with every device, iOS, Android and the patchy ecosystem. Moreover, people will want games to work for both 5G and 4G. That would require coding that supports both cellular networks.
- Offloading heavy work
Writing code may get complex, but computational work will get easier in game development. Low-latency makes it possible for a developer to hand over the heavy stuff to datacentres that utilise the latest hardware.
- New genres in mobile gaming
Real-time strategy or first-person shooter games on mobiles are pale cousins to PC or console games. 5G will rectify this and open up a lot of doors of opportunity for mobile gaming
- Smoother gaming experience
We’ve already spoken about 5G making it possible to host a game on the cloud, render it on any device and show the visual output on any screen. This blurring of lines between PC, console and mobile will offer a smoother gaming experience.
How? Because the effects of 3D rendering, motion graphics, simulation and others are lessened on the device. By developing games that can be easily switched from one screen to another, game artists deliver a premium experience.
Any may we so bold to say that this capability of 5G will finally lay to rest the perpetual debate of what is best – PC, console or mobile for gaming.
- Content will rule
Since 5G bulldozes through limitations like hardware and screen, the only unique selling point for game developers would be content. The better the game’s content, the more adoption and retention it will have.
How are giants responding to the impact of 5G on gaming?
- Microsoft reacted to 5G by launching its videogame streaming service.
Called Project xCloud, it is right now in beta. Gamers can stream about 50 Xbox games to any Android device using the xCloud.
Currently, Project xCloud is only accessible through mobile, but Microsoft plans to expand to more platforms. The software giant is also working on controllers that work for both tablets and phones, somewhat similar to Switch.
- Google launched Stadia, its cloud gaming service.
Since Google has the weakest connection to gaming, it’s trying to lock in exclusive content. For example, gamers can buy Uplay+ from Ubisoft with Stadia. Besides securing games from 3rd parties, Google is developing its own with Stadia Games and Entertainment.
Some features that Google Stadia will offer are saving your status in a game and permitting other users or viewers to start playing the game at the point another user left it. The cloud service will also be integrated with YouTube. That means a person can transition from watching to playing seamlessly.
Gaming Will Never Be The Same
When it comes to new technologies, gaming is the first sector in the entertainment field to adopt them. And it’s safe to say the effect of 5G on gaming will be explosive, particularly mobile gaming.
Yes, the technical side will be hurdle gaming studios, game developers, and game artists will have to jump over. But those who do will reap a lot of benefits. The financial rewards to those who come up with new titles and genres at a low-cost will be immense.