China's cloud gaming industry is on a fast track with the country's fast deployment of the 5G network.
As China rapidly deploys 5G services nationwide, its cloud gaming market is projected to quadruple in size by 2022, according to a report by research firm CNG.
In its 2020 Cloud Game Industry Survey Report, the Beijing-based firm said it expects the country's cloud gaming market to be worth 1 billion yuan, or 141 million dollars in 2020, and at least 4 billion yuan by 2022.
"Based on what we can see from financial and material investments in various fields, the next three to five years will be a period of rapid growth for cloud gaming," CNG said in the report.
Playing video games has never been so easy. With cloud gaming, all players need is a stable internet connection, and their device, being a mobile phone, a game console, or a PC, can be very basic. No downloading is needed.
This is because cloud games are processed on remote servers, and the video feed is transmitted to players' screens. It all happens so fast that you feel it's real-time.
"There've been two major breakthroughs for cloud gaming. One, servers can process games with faster speed. Two, transmission speed has been boosted with the deployment of 5G," said gaming industry observer Ye Zhuang, a distinguished associate professor of Beijing Jiaotong University.
The cloud gaming concept has been around for years, but the more recent growth of cloud data centers and the roll-out of 5G – with peak data transmission rates up to 100 times faster than 4G – have opened up new possibilities by reducing network latency, one of the format's biggest problems.
"With 5G, players will be able to stream games instead of downloading them and constantly upgrade their hardware to meet up with game setting requirements. They will have more game choices," said Yun Jie, marketing director of Tencent Interactive Entertainment Group.
Chinese Gaming giant Tencent has made cloud games available on a test base since last year. But experts say currently cloud gaming is just a platform where game developers release available titles so that players don't need to download them. Cloud games can certainly do more than that.
"For the next stage, we will need to enhance our cloud gaming engine to develop original cloud games to stimulate the market and attract more players," added Yun.
Nevertheless, though cloud gaming is still in its early stage, and there hasn't emerged a killer game, all industry players believe it will be the next big thing for the gaming industry, as big as the leap from single player gaming to internet multi-player gaming.
"In the near future, 5G will greatly improve the experience of cloud gaming. Game developers will have a golden opportunity to expand their customer base," said Yang Zitao, esports director of ECOSPORTS. "And of course, they have to come up with attractive games."
Cloud gaming reduces costs on upgrading processor and graphics cards, and that's great news for casual players, which is a bigger market than hardcore players and the next growth engine for gaming companies. With the fast deployment of 5G, gaming on the go for everyone will be a norm.