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Gaming Express (Dec 11) - Top cloud gaming trends for 2021

HGC Cloud gaming

As the year draws to an end, we look back and see a 2020 that has been a great time for gaming. From 5G deployments to the launch of several cloud gaming solutions, the last 12 months have given us a glimpse of what’s to come in this bludgeoning sector.

Looking at the near future, we can definitely expect to continue to see a lot of change. For example, according to market researcher Newzoo, the PC, console, and video games market is expected to exceed $180 billion by 2021, up from just $137 billion in 2018.

This comes to show the massive shift happening and where we are heading. With that in mind, I decided it would be interesting to see what we can anticipate for 2021 in relation to gaming.

Before we get started, don’t forget to also signup to this webinar – Taking online gaming in Asia to the next level – where I will be joined by AWS and Macroview in discussing the current and future landscape of Asia’s gaming market.

For now, here are my predictions for 2021:

5G will take over

With one billion users expected to be connected to 5G by the end of the year, 2021 is in line with predictions to see 5G adopted at a huge scale across the planet. 5G promises a slicker gaming experience, the end - or close to the end - of lag, the capability to develop more intense and grand graphics, and much more.

Once users experience gaming over 5G networks, they will notice the difference and there will be no going back. This is a tremendous opportunity for telecommunication players, who are in a prime position to rip the benefits from an extremely fast-growing market that is online gaming. This is where HGC can also help, by putting to work its aggregation services, which form the basis of our one-stop shop to support businesses wanting to build and expand their services, anywhere, anytime, with rapidly scalable solutions.

Gaming-as-a-Service becomes the new normal

This year we saw several of the big cloud names launch their own cloud gaming platforms. If 2020 was the year of the cloud penetrating the gaming scene, 2021 will see mass adoption of these services backed up by growing infrastructure deployments – I mean data centres, networks, etc – all across the globe. Users are, more than ever, willing to pay for play, but require flexibility.

This is where Gaming-as-a-Service, or GaaS, comes in, and just like a Netflix or Amazon Prime membership, enables users to take control of their spending. Telcos and cloud operators will be working closer than ever before come next year to ensure benefits such as speed, availability and opportunity to game is experienced by as many people as possible.

Gaming vendors will need to embrace Edge Computing

Having gone over 5G and cloud computing, the next natural step, which I believe will be a key area of development in 2021, is edge computing. Edge brings the computing power closer to the source of the data, close to the user, making their online experience faster and less prone to delays or other unfortunate events.

As gaming companies shift towards the cloud and embrace 5G for their own good, 2021 will be the year where they really need to look at how they can embrace edge computing to best support their networks and continue to deliver services to current and new players.

5G - and we can now also start mentioning 6G - is key to the gaming experience but the true benefits can only be felt if allied to edge computing networks. Gaming platforms, that is tier 1 and tier 2 OTTs, require a diverse high bandwidth transit ecosystem to deliver a high-quality digital experience, no matter where they are in the world.

This is where gaming solution providers, like HGC, are helping leaders evolve, adapt and increase their market share by working in close partnership with content delivery networks (CDNs), cloud service providers, and a wide range of other players including mobile device platforms and others to reach and answer the needs of their fast-expanding community of gamers.

Mobile gaming will expand beyond Asia

Mobile gaming has been big – in fact, extremely BIG – in Asia. Just like online payments, messaging apps, and so on. The Asian continent is known for its ‘mobile-first’ approach. However, one shift we will see, or perhaps not so much of a shift, but a growth is in the numbers of mobile gamers outside of Asia.

With 5G delivering better connectivity, users will be enticed to play more, from anywhere. Add to this the new mobile devices with 5G capabilities and top-notch screens and processors becoming available – talking of, for example, Samsung Galaxy Fold or the iPhone 12 – players are finally owning a new type of device that will challenge home-gaming consoles. Additionally, one of the consequences we have seen from the Covid-19 pandemic is the rise in the usage of cloud services, mobile devices, and indeed gaming platforms.

Nevertheless, truth be told, although I expect mobile gaming to exponentially grow outside of Asia, I don’t expect people in the West to give up on their consoles. Mobile devices will be, instead, used as an extension to play whilst away from the home. As for developing countries and regions, the affordability of mobile devices will continue to feed the growing number of users.

Esports take centre stage

Esports have somewhat grown in their own right, right across the world. From hundreds of thousands of competitors to multi-million Dollar prizes, this sport has in 2019 and 2020 reached new highs with several countries officially recognising it as a sport, especially around South East Asia. Such is the case of the Philippines like I mentioned in one of my previous blogs.

Next year, we are sure to continue to see Esports assume an even more important role in the sporting calendar. With the Olympic Games due to be hosted in Tokyo in 2021 and calls from several national associations to make Esports an Olympic sport, you can expect to hear a lot more about Esports.

A subcategory of Esports that has grown this year and is not expected to decline in he neither future either – if ever - is online casinos. This has been a direct consequence of the Covi-19 pandemic. As people could not go to casinos, gamers turned online to gamble. This is a market in frank expansion.

Extended reality gains new life

Lastly, if we have spoken of 5G, cloud and edge computing, and the release of powerful mobile devices, we must also talk about the extended reality (XR) segment. Virtual, augmented and mixed reality are being widely adopted generally across the globe. However, only now the infrastructure is permitting game developers to launch graphic intensive scenarios that serve the XR segment.

This is an important part of the gaming chest board and one where edge computing will in 2021 prove to be an extremely relevant ally to build service provision on. Bring in the widespread roll out of 5G, and the networks are finally becoming fast enough to deliver on the XR promise. On the other hand, consoles are also becoming more powerful and capable of handling XR devices, which in their turn are becoming cheaper and more accessible to an ever-spreading customer base. So expect this segment to grow exponentially in the next few months.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in the gaming world and 2021 will undoubtedly be an exciting year for all.

Here at HGC, we have built some incredible things to support the growing world of gaming. Our one-stop shop enables you to sit back and let us do the work, from reaching out to CDNs and IPs locally and internationally, to connecting you to the world’s largest cloud operators and networks.

For example, we have developed HGC-IPX which provides an open connectivity platform that allows and empowers OTT players/ACPs to connect to mobile operators or other fixed and cable network operators to exchange IP content and application traffic.

Why does this matter? Because this enables mobile end-users to access content and applications directly without going around the global internet. ​

This is just an example of a vast portfolio we can put to work for you. But let me know what you think it will happen in 2021, and feel free to drop me a message and discuss more about this fascinating market and how HGC is helping companies there reach millions of eyeballs. And don’t forget to register to listen in to my webinar on December 18 about gaming in Asia.

Happy holidays and see you in 2021!

Marcello

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