Back in 2017, certain cell service carriers began rolling out the latest network for their mobile carriers: 5G. The 5G network provided an initial replacement for broadband home internet, but eventually became a standard feature on most devices by the latter half of 2019. Today, it’s also a type of home internet.
Since then, the expanded 5G network has revolutionized gaming. Back in the 1970s and 80s, arcade games slowly gave way to at-home consoles and PC titles. For both console and PC gamers, there was a huge emphasis on connecting to other players around the world. For some early games, like World of Warcraft and the Final Fantasy franchise, online multiplayer modes were at the heart of the game.
Since then, dozens of top casual and competitive video games now include MMO (massively multiplayer online) features. In fact, according to App Annie, two-thirds of the top 50 games available in the Apple Arcade store now include social features. Aside from social features, what has 5G changed within the gaming industry? And how will it continue to evolve in the decade to come?
Mobile Gaming is Truly Mobile
Mobile gaming has taken off in recent years. Recent reports released from Newzoo hint that future gaming markets will focus on mobile titles, especially for older generations. But mobile gaming is only as strong as the network it’s connected to. Even for casual games, a slowed connection can pose a problem.
But the 5G network is more reliable than its predecessors. This means that gamers of all stripes can play remotely. For example, the best online casinos that payout offer mobile apps that make it easier to game while on the go. Whether looking to play slots or wanting to join a game of blackjack, players need a responsive and quick connection—which 5G networks provide.
Elevated Social Features
The first 5G networks helped bridge connectivity issues that prevented MMO games from taking off. The latest rollout of 5G networks has helped bring MMO features not to consoles or PCs, but straight to mobile devices. PUBG: Mobile, for example, now has over 500 million downloads. 5G networks bring together 100 players in each game, who battle it out on a remote island.
A Boost for AR & VR
As exemplified above, 5G has provided critical infrastructure for the development of mobile gaming. But it’s not just smartphone-based gamers who have benefitted from 5G. Similar to mobile games and MMO features, AR and VR titles rely on quite a bit of bandwidth to function seamlessly.
This means that AR and VR gamers need access to incredibly fast connections. And many, including top PC gamers, still rely on a physical ethernet cable to make sure nothing compromises their internet speed. But 5G has changed this, providing gamers with a stronger wireless connection and a better online gaming experience.
5G, 6G, & the Future of eSports
While experiencing a bit of lag while playing VR at home is frustrating for gamers—and especially those with plans to go pro—it’s been a major barrier in eSports. For an arena to host a live eSports competition, the organizers must be able to guarantee a seamless internet connection to make sure no teams are at a disadvantage.
5G networks make it much easier for techies to ensure all competitors have a strong connection. But already, some analysts in the eSports industry are setting their sights on a 6G rollout. Compared to 5G, 6G networks will provide a one-microsecond latency while also hosting at a higher capacity. In other words, it will be faster and able to provide a connection for even more gamers… but given it’s still in development, 6G won’t roll out anytime soon.