How can telecom operators utilise this ever-growing, rapidly-changing market?
There were 2.69 billion active video gamers worldwide in 2020 , with these numbers set to rise even more as gaming becomes more prevalent in popular culture.
Alongside the overall increase of gaming popularity, mobile gamer numbers grew from 1.2 billion to 1.75 billion over just three months in 2020 . Mobile gaming makes sense for those who already have a smartphone and wish to play games without having to buy a console or gaming PC.
Cloud gaming is becoming more popular, as it allows the ‘streaming’ of games onto devices from remote servers, instead of physical discs and/or installation of software . This opens up the possibility to expand gamer player-bases even further, as expensive high-end gaming hardware becomes less necessary in the digital age.
How does communication technology fit into this?
Cloud gaming requires a stable, high-bandwidth, consistently low-latency broadband connection. Offering end-to-end fibre is just one option, as there is now growing support for 5G data connections. Theoretically, this should be stable and have consistently low latency, however, practically, “an enormous amount of infrastructure investment will be required in order to enable a fully loaded 5G network to perform as well as end-to-end fibre” . Telecoms operators must be prepared to invest in high-quality infrastructure to support the cloud gaming experience .
Mobile gaming, which is constantly growing in popularity, takes the gaming experience anywhere and everywhere. Many mobile games require an internet connection to play, particularly with mass-multiplayer and battle royale games such as the mobile counterparts to Fortnite and PUBG. In 2019 it was reported that 33% of all mobile downloads and 10% of time spent on mobile are now games .
As with cloud gaming, telecoms operators with support for 5G networks can win over gamers with a stable connection featuring lower latency and higher bandwidth. No player wants to be disconnected from the game or experience high latencies (or ‘lag[ging]’) especially in a world with social, interactive, and real-time gaming  where every second counts. When playing against other real people, network stability is the top priority for gamers.
Beyond the casual gamer market, there are huge opportunities with eSports, competitive gaming tournaments. In 2019 alone, the eSports market – although still in its infancy – received $1.1 billion in revenue . Professional eSports gamers are championed by gamers and, before COVID-19, filled stadiums with supportive fans. By “enabling and promoting esports tournaments” , telecoms operators will gain traction in the gaming market and acquire loyal customers.
An ‘edge computing system’ can detect the location of each online player and create an optimally-located server to boost bandwidth and reduce lag for all players . This is a huge game-changer for online multiplayer gaming and eSports, removing the limits of bad connections and ensuring all players have the same/a similar experience. With the advent of edge computing technology and the growth of 5G, telecom operators are “uniquely positioned” to support gamers in online gaming and eSports environments to avoid game lag and unstable connections. .
- Statista. (2021, January 13). Number of video gamers worldwide 2015-2023. https://www.statista.com/statistics/748044/number-video-gamers-world/
- Hreninciuc, I. (2020, November 5). Mobile playtime increases by 62%, with IAP up by around 30% in Q1. GameAnalytics. https://gameanalytics.com/news/covid-impact-mobile-games-q1-2020/
- STL Partners. (2020, November 4). Cloud gaming: What’s the telco play? – STL Partners %. https://stlpartners.com/research/cloud-gaming-whats-the-telco-play/
- González, J. (2020, September 21). Cloud Gaming Experience: Opportunities for Telcos and OTTs? MedUX. https://medux.com/cloud-gaming-experience-opportunities-for-telcos-and-otts/
- The State of Mobile Games in 2019 and Beyond. (2019). App Annie. https://www.appannie.com/en/insights/mobile-gaming/the-state-of-mobile-games-in-2019-and-beyond/
- Game on for Telecoms. (2020, October 29). The Economic Times. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/game-on-for-telecoms/articleshow/78925820.cms?from=mdr
- Why Telcos Must Get in the Game for the Rise of Esports. (2020, January 18). Visual Capitalist. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/telcos-gaming-rise-esports/
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