How 5G is powering video games: the top developments for 2021


From innovative telco-games partnerships to Indian Esports growth, we highlight some of the key 5G developments that will push gaming to new heights this year.


Verizon and Unity partnership enables fusion of 5G, MEC and real-time 3D tech 

Game developers can soon start to benefit from the Verizon and Unity collaboration that will allow for a variety of high-performance 3D apps without having to invest in expensive hardware. The combination of 5G Ultra Wideband, mobile edge computing and real-time 3D applications will be transformative for gaming experiences.

With an increasing demand from gamers for high-speed, AAA titles that push the boundaries, Unity have the missing piece of the puzzle through this partnership, with 5G enabling them to effectively deliver these real-time 3D experiences.

And it will reach beyond game development and play. The faster speeds, higher bandwidth and ultra low-latency will be beneficial for industries like retail, sports and more. Verizon Business CEO, Tami Erwin, said of the innovation:

 “Whether you’re an enterprise reimaging how you do business using predictive real time insights, computer vision, machine learning and artificial intelligence, or a mobile gamer who simply wants to download the hottest new game in seconds and enjoy data intensive, multiplayer games conventionally reserved for consoles, the future is happening right now.”

It’s clear Verizon are on course to make 5G and MEC a disruptive force in a variety of industries this year.

Cellcard set to boost Cambodian Esports as it plans to launch 5G network

Cambodia has historically had one of the least developed digital infrastructures in the Southeast Asia region. And yet, thanks to Cellcard and an investment of over US$300 million in 2018, the country has an established 4G LTE network and not long had its first ever 5G use case. With an Esports division now in place and a 5G service on the horizon, Cellcard are leading the way for Cambodia’s growing gaming community.

In recent years, Cellcard has also sought to transform their business strategy, focusing more on the wants of the Cambodian youth who make up almost 50% of the population. They have cornered this market with the launch of popular mobile-based gaming and Esports services. The Cellcard gaming legacy began in 2017 with the launch of the title, Super Data Race. Then came the platform PlayGame in 2020, supported by PlayGame Unlimited – a data plan made exclusively for gamers. The past year has seen the platform host almost 200 Esports and live-stream events.

The investment in youth has paid off with mobile data traffic on Cellcard’s network increasing by 32%. 2021 will see the start of a nationwide 5G network that hopes to further support the increasing Esports community in Cambodia and across the Southeast Asian region.

EE is UK’s No. 1 network for gaming, as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is introduced to 5G plans

EE has been named the UK’s number one network for gaming according to a recent study by RootMetrics. Throughout 2020, EE recorded the fastest aggregate median download speed of any network, the lowest packet loss and the lowest jitter during UK-wide testing. The news comes as EE switches on 5G in a further 13 UK towns including Middlesbrough, Stockport, Tamworth, and Leamington Spa – Genba’s HQ base and home to the ‘Silicon Spa’ video games hub.

Additionally, network insights from EE show an increase for mobile gaming, with the launch of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in November 2020, causing peak traffic for gaming services. EE are looking to capitalize on this gaming surge with an exclusive Gaming Unleashed bundle, which includes twelve months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for any customer who buys a new Samsung Galaxy 21 5G smartphone on an EE Smart Plan. Commenting on the new offering, EE’s Alistair Wilson said he expects gamers to “experience a new era in mobile gaming”.

As both the 5G network progresses and Xbox honours its commitment of providing day-one access to new titles on Game Pass, 2021 looks to be a promising year for UK cloud gaming.

GeForce Now grows 5G telco partnerships for better gaming experiences

Nvidia has announced the expansion of their range of telco partnerships for its GeForce Now cloud-based game streaming platform. Partners such as Pentanet (Australia), Turkcell (Turkey) and Zain KSA (Saudi Arabia) are being added to the already extensive list of partners GeForce Now has to boast.

The GeForce Now service allows users to play PC games on virtually any connected device, and thanks to the Nvidia GPU-equipped servers, it hopes to deliver the fast and efficient gaming that you would expect from consoles at home. 

So far, Nvidia’s experience with telco partners has seen a 10x increase in real world bandwidth in the GeForce Now service. More interestingly,  it’s meant they can reach for a target latency of 20 msec. For competitive gamers this is literally a game-changer, where milliseconds can be the difference between a loss or a win. 

As these telco partners move towards a 5G core network, the quality of the cloud-based gaming experience across cellular networks and mobile devices will undoubtedly see a significant boost.

India will see its Esports evolve this year with the help of 5G

Indian telco, Reliance Jio, recently announced their plan to design and develop a complete ‘Make in India’ 5G solution – welcome news for India’s mobile gaming industry. The solution will meet the increasing demand for immersive and interactive experiences in gaming, Esports and live streaming, while further propelling India forward as a thriving gaming hub.

Then there’s the announcement from Smartphone chipmaker, Qualcomm, that promises a Qualcomm Conquest Esports tournament this year. It will provide a long-awaited and expansive platform for India’s mobile gamers to battle it out in the BR game, Garena: Free Fire, with a prize of Rs 50,000,000 up for grabs.

Both these announcements and the latest stats suggest that like Cambodia, an Esports surge is on the horizon for India.

Estimates have implied India is one the fastest growing online gaming markets in the world. It currently boasts 400 million gamers, with 75% of the $1.2 billion revenue from its gaming industry coming from skills games.

Additionally, predictions point at PC gaming growing exponentially in India in 2021. Indian gamers characteristically tend to be passionate about social gaming, deeply rewarded by community engagement – both local and online. Naturally, multiplayer and co-op titles lend themselves to this, which has led to Esports titles like CounterStrike:GO and similar become the go-to. For these titles, PC is still the preferred platform.

Add to this the expectation of further investment from Intel into ESL in India, and the rollout of 5G countrywide, and it looks like Indian Esports is set to skyrocket


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