With Microsoft beta testing xCloud and rumors emanating from Sony about the new PS5, the major players in tech are clearly looking towards future-proofing their gaming products and services. Given the hype surrounding 5G and the screaming headlines that it will change the face of gaming forever, it doesn’t take a genius to see why they are working at such a frenzied pace on development.
But how much of that hype is based in fact? Technology is progressing and evolving at a rapid pace, and has done so since the internet hit the mainstream a quarter of a century ago. Will the advent of 5G really make such a big difference?
The question you were afraid to ask
Let’s just say it – what is 5G anyway? All it means is the fifth-generation mobile internet. It will make better use of the radio spectrum to allow more devices to get online and will offer vastly superior download speeds.
Just how superior depends on who you ask, but initially it is likely to be up to 1Gb/s, which is about 10 times faster than 4G. However, testing has suggested that speeds could be as high as 25Gb/s.
It’s not just about speed, though. A key property of 5G is that it presents significantly better stability and reduced latency. In other words, you won’t have that annoying delay or the signal suddenly disappearing when you are in a densely populated area.
Do gamers care?
This all sounds fabulous, but here’s the thing: Mobile gaming is more popular today than it has ever been. In fact, some even predict it could render consoles obsolete sooner rather than later. Whether you’re into battle arenas like Fortnite or online video slot sites like the one here, you’ll have been happily playing using 4G and have had little to complain about.
From that perspective, 5G won’t make such a big difference. A video slot, sports game or online puzzle will work just the same on 5G as it did on 4G. However, what it will do is allow the game developers to become even more ambitious in the gaming experiences they offer.
Better multiplayer action
Gaming has become a far more social activity over recent years, and this is an area in which reduced latency will be truly noticed. It’s one thing playing a game with someone across the world where you each take turns. But with 5G it will be possible to take on friends in virtual sports games like football or tennis as if you were in the same room each holding a handset.
Tomorrow’s 5G games
A couple of years ago, everyone was buying VR headsets, confident that a new era of gaming was upon us. Yet here we are in much the same position as before, playing the same style games and VR remains an interesting idea that might someday take off. 5G could certainly hasten its flight. How big an impact it will be and what form VR or AR will take is impossible to predict, but at last, we will have the necessary infrastructure to make it feasible.