The gaming market is on a winning streak, with global revenue set to expand to $162 billion in 2021, up from $121 billion in 2019. Now with the arrival of 5G, the business is experiencing growth in areas including cloud gaming and esports, attracting intense interest from telcos.
Never before has gaming been so relevant to so many technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) players.
The second coming of cloud gaming—heralded by the launch of Google Stadia, Microsoft’s ongoing xCloud trials and Sony’s renewed focus on PS Now—potentially could turn almost any device capable of video streaming into a gaming platform. This phenomenon is expanding the video-game conversation beyond the traditional market incumbents to include makers of other kinds of devices.
Partnerships between cloud gaming technology providers and network operators have emerged as a mutually beneficial affair, more of which will be evident at MWC20. Cloud gaming is predominantly delivered as a premium, subscription-based service, making it suitable for bundling. Gamers are also an attractive demographic for 5G network providers, as they tend to be early adopters of technology and among the highest-spending digital consumers.
Esports are another natural fit for telcos, which believe that 5G’s advent makes mobile esports a far more viable proposition. A battle is on to become the leader of the mobile esports experience, and MWC20 should give us a clearer idea of which telcos are in the hunt.
However, for cloud gaming, network operators should set realistic expectations, as its impact will only be truly felt in the longer term. Uptake will be gradual, particularly as cloud gaming is still being worked out in terms of technology, content availability and business model. Cloud gaming will represent only 5 percent of total gaming revenue in 2024.
The focus at MWC20 will be around planning for the future; investments still need to be made and partnerships still need to be struck before cloud gaming really starts to take off.