The first mobile phone appeared back in the 1980s, which many people associate with Zach Morris from Saved By The Bell. Since then, we have experienced countless mobile phone fads like the Nokia 3210, which spawned the chocolate bar; the Motorola RAZR and the thin flip; and the T-Mobile Sidekick, which introduced the slide-out keyboard.
Along with every hardware fad has been technological advancements driving increased bandwidth and data capabilities, enabling additional applications to complement traditional voice services. Second-generation (2G) notably brought the rise of SMS, while 3G and 4G offered data capabilities that turned mobile phones into pocket computers. All of these advancements were evolutionary, but 5G will be revolutionary.
Sure, 5G is expected to be 20 times faster than 4G, but this technology is destined for more than just lower latency and higher download speeds. In fact, some telecom experts think the technology could spark the fourth industrial revolution. When it comes to business, 5G has the power to enable smart factories, farms, and even cities that supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently.
From a consumer standpoint, 5G makes things like 3D video and Ultra-HD streaming a reality across devices. And with 81% of mobile audiences watching more live streaming video year-over-year, 5G will play an important role in the future of creating better user experiences. This paired with the fact that 48% of viewers are more likely to start their viewing with OTT, the streaming model popularized by Netflix will be adopted by additional industries that have been traditionally riddled by bandwidth problems…like cloud-based gaming.
Netflix of Gaming 1.0
So, 5G applications are obviously endless; but what industries stand to benefit the most? Well, with the recent explosion of gaming, it’s hard not to talk about how this could apply to the booming esports industry, which is expected to be a $1.65 billion market by 2020.
Although social media juggernauts like Facebook have already poured more than $1 billion into their live streaming efforts and launched platforms like IGTV, the only vertical that has really accrued a solid, consistent viewership is esports.
When it comes to live streaming content, many people might say that Amazon-owned Twitch has already claimed the crown as the Netflix of Gaming. And in a way they have. Twitch has more than 15 million daily active users, with 2-3 million monthly active broadcasters and more than 355 billion minutes watched. Although competitor Mixer is growing quickly, the company only has a fraction of the audience size.
More than 1.87 billion people streamed digital video via a mobile phone in 2018, and gamers around the world flock to Twitch every day to watch their favorite creators, play their favorite video games, in an on-demand fashion. Currently, Twitch is most certainly the undisputed champion of streaming in the gaming industry. But 5G is going to bring an entirely new meaning to the Netflix of Gaming.
It’s Game(ing) Time For 5G
One of the biggest pain-points for some gamers is the expensive, clunky hardware that is in need of replacement every few years. And although a pipedream has always been to move video games to the cloud, issues like high latency are a recurring problem, historically leading to second-class experiences when compared to traditional non-cloud-based consoles. But 5G has the ability to remove consoles from the equation.
In fact, it might not only change the game, 5G could revolutionize it. According to a recent CNBC interview with analyst Kazunori Ito, “5G will aim to reduce latency to 0.5 milliseconds, putting it way ahead of the 10 milliseconds supported by the current 4G standard.”
The technology also stands to solve a variety of other problems in addition to latency concerns. For example; streaming old games onto new devices, enhance mobile gaming with additional “console” titles, augmented and virtual reality, as well as game creation without varying specs.
All these factors would undoubtedly lead to a better, more seamless gaming experience. For this massive improvement and disruption to the gaming industry, companies could also charge premium subscription based fees upwards of $40-50 per month. And with Fortnite showing the extent of the possibilities when it comes to additional brand dollars through a recent concert collaboration with DJ Marshmello inside the metaverse, it’s no wonder powerhouses like Amazon, Verizon, Google and Apple are all going after the crown of offering a best-in-class entertainment and gaming experience.
The numbers don’t lie; esports is destined for greatness. And when we witness a legacy brand like GameStop watch their stock plummet after posting a loss of $488.6m in Q4, the industry is in clear need of disruption. The Netflix model has resulted in great success, leading to a larger market capitalization than Disney and Comcast. Gaming consoles have always provided a solid infrastructure for the industry, but with 5G technology finally enabling cloud gaming in the near-future, why not take a chance on a proven, successful streaming model to drive wider adoption?