Many have advocated the advent of 5G as a game changer for the mobile gaming industry since its rollout began to replace 4G a few years ago.
The possibilities have increased significantly for mobile gaming developers with speeds almost 20 times faster than 4G can offer, allowing larger data chunks to be developed into content.
The question remains whether 5G will produce significant changes in the mobile gaming world, and if so, what will that mean for the mobile gamer?
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of cell phone networks. Initially, 1G allowed us to make telephone calls. However, each other network’s development was digital, allowing broader functionality on our cell phones. The primary difference between each network was the speed at which they transferred data.
5G uses a very high-frequency range, approximately 30 to 300 GHz. This enables 5G-ready devices to access contents that are not competing for space with billions of other network users or Wi-Fi networks. In short, 5G is significantly better for users than 4G.
Major improvements from between 4G and 5G include:
- Improved latency from 10ms to less than 1ms
- Improved peak data rate from 1 GB/second to 20 GB/second
- Increased mobility from 350 km/hour to 500 km/hour
- Improved connection density from 100,000 connections/km² to 1,000,000 connections/km²
What does this Mean for Gamers?
The difference between 4G and 5G is clear to see. 5G is fast.
If it takes 5 minutes to download a game using a 4G network, you can use 20 games at the same time using 5G. However, faster download speeds are just the tip of the iceberg, other benefits of using 5G for gaming include:
Latency is the amount of time it takes for an action you take to register within the game. For example, it takes approximately 20ms to write what’s happening on the screen and then a few more milliseconds for your brain to process and react. Once you’ve taken action, it takes a bit longer for that to happen on the screen.
All games have latency. However, that is largely down to the network you’re using. The faster the network, the lower the latency, thus improving the user experience.
In gaming, milliseconds count. As few as 15 milliseconds can mean the difference between virtual life and death for your character in Roblox.
5G Makes Game Streaming Possible
Up until now, gaming has been a high-level commitment. Gamers have had to commit to a single console, phone, or PC platform and stick to it.
5G will make it possible for game streaming and for games to become multi-platform experiences. In the same way, you can stream your favorite shows through your Smart-TV, PC, or mobile device, 5G will have the same effect on gaming.
You’ll be able to pick up wherever you left off, regardless of whether you’re on your iPad or 50-inch gaming screen at home.
VR and AR are a Reality with 5G
Current cell phones using 4G networks do not have the processing power to allow adequate virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) gaming. Unlike consoles, which have significantly greater computing power, this technology on 4G reduces the gaming experience to a laggy, soporific experience.
5G’s processing power will live in the online cloud, meaning VR headsets won’t need cords attached to the mobile. In addition, gaming studios can design their graphics in high resolution offering a seamless experience to gamers.
How will Designers Harness 5G?
5G opens up a vast world of opportunities for mobile game designers. Previously they’ve been handicapped by hardware constraints. However, those restrictions are lifted with 5G games hosted on the cloud.
Other benefits of 5G for game designers include:
While it’s been possible for people on different platforms to integrate and play the same game, that integration hasn’t been possible for mobile gamers. For example, friends could play Fortnite with one on a PC and the other on an X-box. 5G will allow mobile gamers to integrate into these games as well.
New Genres in Mobile Gaming
5G will revolutionize the level of content available to mobile gamers. Mobile versions of big-budget blockbusters such as Call of Duty have always paled against console or PC cousins. The advances in technology and possibilities provided by 5G will offer mobile gamers access to games with more depth than ever before.
Smoother In-Game Experience
With 5G games being hosted on the cloud rather than having to be downloaded onto devices, game rendering, moving graphics, simulation, and 3D effects will be significantly improved.
Not only will this improve the in-game experience for gamers, but it will also significantly narrow, if not eradicate, the gap between gaming on mobiles and other platforms that currently exist.
How are Gaming Providers Already Using 5G?
As you’d expect, the tech giants are investing heavily in developing the 5G gaming experience to get ahead of the market.
Microsoft Project xCloud
Already in beta mode, Microsoft’s video game streaming service Project xCloud allows gamers to stream dozens of Xbox games to any Android device via the xCloud.
This includes blockbuster games such as Gears of War 5, which pushes the capabilities of the Xbox to the limit.
Although currently only available through mobile, Microsoft plans to expand to other platforms.
Google’s attempts at breaking into the gaming world until now have been abortive. However, that could all change with its cloud gaming service, Stadia.
As well as locking in exclusive rights for games from 3rd party studios, it is developing its own games with Stadia Games.
Features users of Stadia will be able to use include saving your game and allowing other users to start playing from that point and integrating with YouTube.
Will 5G Change Mobile Gaming?
The potential for 5G to revolutionize the mobile gaming experience is enormous. While there will be technical hurdles to overcome, developers that show determination and innovation could be handsomely rewarded.
Gamers can play high-quality games wherever they are, meaning a whole new market is available for those companies leading the charge. The key will be for them to offer console or PC-quality gaming experiences on the mobile at low prices.