With much faster speeds than fourth-generation technology, 5G can make a critical difference in the realism of game scenes and the action. Fast networks are needed to transfer the huge amounts of data that allow players to respond to one another’s actions and keep simulated environments realistic-looking.
With faster connections, there will be potential to involve more players from different venues in a single esports competition. 5G frees competitors to move around more, without wires or the burden of a heavy backpack containing computer power. The technology is revolutionizing the industry as mobile and cloud-based gaming is set to take precedence, powered by 5G connections and higher bandwidth.
When virtual reality is used in esports, the action is more like a traditional sporting match, in that players are physically active, roaming around a stage in a real arena, ducking down and emerging to shoot enemies. Mobile sensors in the play guns, gloves and headsets track the players’ actions – their movements and shooting – and that data is transmitted and processed into the virtual environment. The contestants see that world in their headsets. So does the audience. Spectators at the actual event can both watch the contestants as they move about the stage and follow the battle occurring in the virtual environment shown on giant screens. Online viewers can also watch the virtual action. The new ability to see the players actually moving around and testing their physical abilities provides an extra thrill.
The market for dedicated cloud-gaming services is estimated to be a $6,3 billion opportunity by 2024, growing from $640 million in 2020, according to New York-based research firm ABI Research. ABI estimates the Asia-Pacific region would account for 45% of the market, followed by North America with 26%.
Within Asia, China is at the forefront of both esports and 5G. The leading esports platform is operated by Wuhan-based DouYu International Holdings Ltd., a publicly listed company backed by Chinese internet heavyweight Tencent Holdings Ltd. VR videogame tournaments are scheduled this summer in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
Arenas for esports are even part of the economic development plan in Beijing’s Haidian district, the country’s closest equivalent to Silicon Valley and home to several of China’s leading universities. The district government’s plan calls for roughly $1,55 million in subsidies for companies hosting local esports events using 5G, virtual reality or other technologies.