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Gaming Express -Latency means game over – Do you want to play that game?

HGC Gaming insight

From the first time the world saw cloud gaming in action just over 20 years ago, to today’s ultra-realistic – and extremely cloud-dependent – gaming sets, the industry has changed. But one issue has dragged along the years: latency. And with that, gamer’s frustration and high levels of anxiety.

Although you could argue that today’s networks power play and stamina would be enough to support the gaming world needs of before, the industry is on a constant race to catch up with the rapid advancements and production of video games.

For most of gaming’s history, the systems relied on pure hardware; hardware capable of enduring even the most ardent player’s insatiable desires for victory, and consequently, hours upon hours of play time. But they too, suffered with the issue of latency.

However, that whole hardware idea goes – almost - out of the window when we talk about cloud. And yes, you still need some hardware today, but in this “consoleless” age, it is just as much about those devices you need around you, as it is about cloud networks, edge ecosystems and fast, reliable networks to make it all work.

Let me put it this way: in that gaming hardware period, you would have to cash out hundreds, if not thousands of Dollars to play; now, cloud computing has opened gaming to everyone who simply owns a portable device. The scope of the market went from just a few hundreds of millions who purchased the necessary equipment, to billions of people simply because they own a mobile device.

The gargantous Netflix moment of gaming has arrived with the likes of Google’s Stadia, Microsoft’s xCloud, Amazon’s Luna to name but a few. Cloud has enabled this explosion of streaming services, and the average portable device user will be more likely to jump into gaming using a streaming platform, rather than forking out a lot of money on a piece of gaming gear.

You can then ask: so, are we going to see the console disappear? I do not believe we will. What will happen here is what often we end up concluding when it comes to things like driverless cars in the future for example. The majority of us will not need to drive and will not want to do so, but there will still be “drivable” vehicles out there for the afficionados. The same will happen with that gaming hardware.

Meanwhile, it is totally unquestionable that cloud has taken over the today’s $159 billion gaming industry and will be serving all users, no matter what devices they use to access their gaming service of choice.

Nevertheless, success is totally dependent on how well networks perform and how much they bring down latency and avoid any lag too. Out of curiosity, in the gaming world, anything below the 100ms is considered acceptable as latency, with 20ms to 40ms seen as optimal.

However, as games become more realistic and things such as virtual and augmented reality pick up, consumers will eventually demand way lower times. I would even argue that in the near future – five to ten years’ time possibly – players will demand latency periods as low the ones needed in the financial sector in 2020 for instance. Nonetheless, ultimately, we will want everything to be 0ms, real time.

On the network front, gaming will undoubtably impact telecoms operators and the whole ecosystem around them in the near future. The insatiable thirst for faster, unbreakable cloud connectivity could in fact break the connectivity providers themselves if their networks are not robust enough for the sheer volume of demand that is already surfacing but will explode.

I have seen first-hand, for instance, the impact of covid-19 and the shift that came with it as people spend more time at home. And if you are at home, you will find ways of keeping yourself busy, for millions, that means trying gaming for the first time, or just growing their gaming consumption.

In my view, gaming will be one of the biggest drivers for network usage surges across the globe in the next decade. Perhaps even the biggest topping other big beasts of consumption such as the wider entertainment industry, be it music, video or online shopping.

Having the right network architecture providing a seamless experience to support this growth and tackle any latency issues, is the key ingredient to avoid game over.

5G and even 6G which could be available by the end of the decade, are key to pull it all together, allied to edge computing networks. Gaming platforms, 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 the market 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.

For example, at HGC, we have 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. ​

There’s more to it of course, our portfolio is much larger than one product, but if you are a gaming platform interested in learning more about how to reduce latency and lag, I will be happy to have a chat to see how we can best help you.

If you wish to explore how HGC and we can help you expand your capabilities to handle the growing needs of cloud-based gaming, feel free to drop me a direct email on marcello.brescia@hgc.com.hk or connect me via LinkedIn.

In the meantime, let me know in the comments what cloud gaming platforms you enjoy the most and what games you play often.

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