Just as streaming services have disrupted the film and television industry, the gaming industry is set to follow suit with cloud gaming, where streaming becomes the alternative to owning physical copies or digital downloads of your favorite titles. For publishers, streaming offers a way to monetize back catalogs and introduce old titles to a new generation.
The Edison report warns that “internet infrastructure in many core jurisdictions will need to improve markedly for streaming to become mass-market; latency and lag are currently prohibitive and are likely to remain so for years to come.”
Competition is heating up as major publishers, console manufacturers and cloud service providers all scramble for a bite of the pie. Google is set to launch Stadia on November 19th (it was developed as Project Stream). Microsoft is working on Project xCloud, building off its existing Azure cloud services. Electronic Arts is working on Project Atlas which was announced shortly after it acquired GameFly’s cloud gaming technology and personnel. Sony and Nvidia are ahead of the pack, having established their own streaming services—PlayStation Now and GeForce Now, respectively—several years earlier. Nintendo has experimented with cloud gaming through Switch in Japan. All evidence points to Amazon developing their own cloud gaming giant. And if you are not one for brand restricted services, Shadow has you sorted with its multi-platform support and full Windows 10 capability.
One country that is equipping itself to deliver cloud gaming at blazing speeds to its gamers is China. With the Chinese government’s decision to accelerate the commercial rollout of 5G, $184 billion is forecasted to be invested in China by 2025, against a total of $370 billion across Asia. 5G mobile connections in China is expected to account for a third of global figures by 2025. Joining in on the ride, for example, is China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator. It has already announced plans to deploy over 50,000 5G base stations across over 50 commercial cities in China by the end of 2019 with expansion continuing in 2020 to reach over 200 prefecture-level cities. In addition, they are expected to invest $440 million in developing original 5G content, including high-definition video and games. The importance of owning original content has already been demonstrated in the neighbouring film and television industry with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
Another factor that makes Chinese gamers the perfect audience for cloud gaming is a cultural one: they like playing big PC games on smartphones. Mobile clones have been developed for League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Diablo and PUBG. Cloud gaming will unlock large libraries of PC titles that Chinese gamers are thirsty to access from their pockets.
With technological and cultural desires aligned in China, cloud gaming is set to be the next big thing for the industry and developers must take note.
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