5G is a fundamental technology that is poised to shake up many industries and gaming keeps popping up in the news. Earlier this week Nintendo revealed it’s looking into 5G technology because of it is “capable of transmitting vast amounts of data at once”.
What does this mean to you and I? Well your Switch could soon be powered by 5G enabling a Mario Kart battle with someone in Tokyo through the fastest connectivity and lowest possible latency while you’re sitting on a train.
Who isn’t looking at 5G?
Nintendo isn’t the only one looking to change the way you game, Google’s Stadia which can stream games in 4K at 60fps and support for high-dynamic-range. Instead of gaming on PC or consol you’ll be able to play on one of Google data centers, provided your internet is fast enough, which is where 5G would come in.
Nintendo’s interest in 5G was revealed by Ko Shiota, general manager of platform technology development at a Share holder meeting.
Shiota stated Nintendo was not in the habit of “following trends just because they are popular”, referring specifically to 5G.
“We prefer to consider what experiences said technology can give to our players, how to use it in our games and the result of implementing it,” he said, before adding price was also a factor. No matter how good a technology was, it would be difficult to integrate something into its products if the cost was too high, he cautioned.
Nintendo is in a good position to leverage 5G technology because they’re already established in the handheld and smartphone gaming segments.
Looking at gaming industry, in addition to Google, heavyweights Sony and Microsoft have already started to plan for the shift which would move them away from traditional (expensive) hardware consoles.
Google is the first mover in this space with Stadia launching in November for only $10 a month. They have an initial line up of 30 games and require a compatible device, controller and of course a good internet connection.
Is it the end of the Road for Gaming Consoles?
Google revealed there are currently 200 million people watching gaming-related content YouTube. It makes a lot of sense to develop a platform for people to engage with games themselves. Having said that, Google has a long way to go. The initial launch is only made up of older games and not new blockbuster titles.
Having said that Sony and Microsoft did react to the Google’s announcement by teaming up. The battle between Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation is legendary. The fact that Microsoft and Sony teamed up says a lot about the potential of streaming games.
The rivals are now collaborating on cloud-based gaming platform, tapping into Microsoft Azure’s cloud service to support their respective game and streaming content.
That Google’s announcement was met with competition shows Microsoft and Sony are also betting on streaming. The move clearly acknowledges there is room for gaming platforms beyond their wildly successful consoles.
Is Nintendo late to the game?
What’s interesting about Nintendo is that in Japan they’ve already got cloud based streaming to the Switch where you can play Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. They’ve also got a strong partnership with Ubitus who is a cloud gaming specialist. We should expect to see Nintendo extend this support to other countries.
Nintendo is not all in on cloud gaming. At the share holder meeting president Shuntaro Furukawa dismissed the idea that one day games will be playable through the cloud, but acknowledged the technology is “rapidly improving”.
Even with this perspective 5G is not being ignored. “We have actually been conducting practical research on these technologies from the very beginning,” he said.
And he added that games hosted through cloud will “become more and more numerous”, but believes there will be a place for “fun games played locally on a home console”.
5G is poised to shake things up, but we shouldn’t expect to be throwing away our Xbox or PlayStation anytime soon! 5G is starting to roll out in many countries, but it’s years away from being a global reality! We are glad to see these moves being made now because it will take time for the gaming platforms to mature.
Want to hear more about the future of gaming and your smartphone? Michael Josh and I talk about the future of Smartphone and we dive into Google’s Stadia and dive deeper into the implications of this technology. If you haven’t had the chance to listen to the latest episode of She Said, He Said, what are you waiting for?
Nintendo Shareholder meeting quotes taken from MobileWorldLive.