The Battle Lines at E3 Are Cloudy for Mobile Operators

(This article originally appeared on Forbes).  

E3 yet again showcased the latest and greatest in gaming innovations. Thanks to new technologies like cloud gaming, the industry could be worth $300bn by 2025. The gaming behemoths – Google, Sony, Microsoft and many others– are gearing up with new firepower for this cloud-based battle. Mobile operators could get caught in the crossfires and even 5G might prove futile.

Keanu Reeves said it best. His appearance at E3 a few weeks ago for Cyberpunk 2077 really set the scene for the next level of gaming. From blisteringly fast speeds to immersive gameplay and the next generation of graphics – there’s only word for it. As Keanu Reeves said: breathtaking!

Along with the glitzy launches at E3, the event solidified the importance that the cloud and mobile networks will have on the future of gaming. Traditional console adversaries Microsoft and Sony decided to forego the rivalry and agreed instead to develop a partnership in cloud-computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Project xCloud, which will go live in October will use Microsoft’s Azure for video and content-streaming services. Sony, which already runs a cloud-gaming service, has agreed to employ Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

The duo aim to provide an enhanced entertainment experience for their gamers and build better platforms for content creators. This announcement also serves another purpose. It faces a common foe – Google.

The Google in the room

Google transformed search, email, videos and maps – and now it has turned its attention to games. Google’s Stadia will bridge screens and devices and provide players instant access to games, while also integrating YouTube capture, streaming and sharing. The technology behemoth plans to stream games at launch in 4K at 60 frames per second (fps) for both playing games and sharing game streams, with the goal to eventually supporting 8K and 120+ fps.

And more players are entering the fray. Nintendo, Snapchat and even Walmart are just some of the companies exploring the cloud gaming arena. Amazon is also considering a similar approach with Amazon Web Services – leveraging its formidable cloud and data center arm. Think of data centers as the power-ups in the cloud ecosystem that drive the streaming and transfer of gaming traffic.

Next level streaming

Gaming traffic requires data to flow both ways between the user and the data center – at ultra-fast speeds. It is vastly different from music or movie streaming which is almost entirely one directional. Buffering on a Netflix binge is not quite the same life and death situation for a player on Apex Legends if the game starts to lag – even by a millisecond.

And that’s where the battle on the cloud gaming front heats up for mobile operators. The seamless cloud dream envisioned by gaming aficionados is a cross-platform experience where a player can jump-off at one point, hop-on another screen and continue the action, exactly where they left-off  – with the same level of interactivity in real-time.

This article originally appeared on Forbes. Read the rest of the article here.

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