Mobile gaming saw a dramatic rise during the pandemic-enforced lockdown on the back of India's 560-million internet user base. The industry's next big bet? 5G cloud gaming.
As telecom operators such as Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea gear up to conduct 5G trials across the country, gaming companies are eagerly watching as their next phase of growth is heavily dependent on 5G-based applications.
"There are a couple of ways in which technology is being used to further the cause of gaming. One is to improve engagement. Cloud computing is going to be one big aspect of it," says Bhavin Pandya, Co-founder and CEO, Games 24x7.
"If I were to serve the number of players that I'm serving today, I would need a huge building just to store all those servers," he adds.
One of the biggest ways 5G can disrupt the industry is by enhancing the live streaming of games. "Instead of people having to download the game before they start playing, they can stream the game in real-time. Technology has multiple facets: the first one of the ability to process a lot of data so you can use data science and machine learning to understand the players," says Pandya.
He added that the second aspect of technology is infrastructure. "With the cloud, you can serve many more people than you did before and, with 5G, the internet itself will help us find better and faster ways of engaging," he says.
Industry experts say the introduction of 5G will redefine cloud gaming once it reaches a particular mass and scale. It will enhance the gaming experience and help explore more revenue models like paying more for a better-connected gaming experience.
Cloud has to be looked at from three native technologies that will help it grow faster, Naman Jhawar, Senior Vice-President, Strategy and Operations at Mobile Premier League, says.
"One is the network itself which is 5G; second is the underlying data infrastructure that is blockchain; and the third is Web 3.0, which will help bring more connected business models to the fore," he notes.
This will revolutionise gaming and also create new monetisation models. "We're pretty much ready for it and are constantly improving our infrastructure to provide a very low latency experience to our users globally," he says. The future, he adds, is in decentralised apps and live connected play.
India's mobile gaming market is slated to grow to $6-7 billion by 2025, according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), RedSeer and OnePlus.
"Cloud gaming is one of the latest big trends and, coupled with 5G, it is going to be a big boost for the industry. But I think it will still take time [to penetrate] because gaming can be done on very high-specification smartphones right now. You cannot do it on low RAM and low-screen size smartphones," Mukesh Kumar, Engagement Manager, RedSeer Consulting, says.
"When 5G comes, it will be a while before it becomes mainstream," he adds.
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