In an industry that is driven by new and exciting technological developments, there is inevitably quite a lot of buzz when it comes to predicting the direction the industry looks set to take in the near future. While this is true of each year that passes, it seemed particularly true this year, with the dual release of the next generation of gaming consoles by Microsoft and Sony happening in 2020. Although the releases of the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles were not without their share of hitches – most notably the widespread shortages of both – their release has done a lot to get us thinking about the future of the gaming industry.

Interestingly, however, neither console seemed to bring about any massive, paradigm-shifting changes in how we game, with both console manufacturers essentially opting to update the hardware and processing power of the previous generation of devices. The latest Xbox and PlayStation consoles are, in this sense, not so much a peek into the future but a better look at the present state of the industry.

But beyond these beefed-up games consoles, what new technologies look set to redefine what it means to play games?

Cloud gaming

While this latest generation of games consoles has focused on putting large, highly expensive gaming systems into your living room – quite often taking up all available space there, given their size – a development that looks set to revolutionize the games industry might not even require any additional hardware. Although cloud-based gaming systems have been on the market for quite some time, their release was, to a certain extent, premature. In fact, only now are mobile internet speeds getting to a point where cloud-based gaming is becoming a feasible and importantly, desirable, reality.

Cloud-based gaming is potentially revolutionary because it does away with the need for bulky, expensive hardware, which ultimately means that the barrier to entry is significantly lowered. With cloud-based gaming systems, all you will need to get started with gaming is a controller, a solid internet connection and a subscription. For this reason, cloud-based gaming could be just the development that we need to draw in a new generation of more casual gamers.

5G – mobile internet hits warp speed

The development of 5G mobile internet technology is solidly linked to the development of cloud-based gaming. In 2020, 5G internet featured quite heavily in the news, although not often in a positive light. With much skepticism from certain nations regarding the involvement of the Chinese government in the development of 5G mobile internet infrastructure, there is a lot of pent-up fear and anxiety about this potentially revolutionary new technology. Although the progression from 4G to 5G might not sound like a huge leap on paper, the actual speed increases are pretty staggering.

Currently, the latency of 4G mobile internet taps out at about 10 milliseconds. While the average user might not be able to even perceive this level of latency, for things such as online gaming, where reaction time to various scenarios is absolutely critical, this latency is huge. Based on the current proposals of 5G technology, this latency could potentially be reduced to as low as one millisecond. Again, while this might not seem that big a reduction, this is indeed a huge leap in mobile internet connectivity.

Games developers, mobile banks and online trading platforms are all eying up this new technology with a huge amount of anticipation, as it could lead to the development of new standards in terms of performance.

Mobile gaming

Building on the new horizon that 5G looks set to open up, the new horizon in gaming technology is undoubtedly going to be a mobile one. Although much of the focus in recent months has been put on the physical games consoles, mobile gaming is by far a much larger sector of the industry.

Mobile casino games, in particular, account for a sizable chunk of the market share, a trend that looks set to carry on into 2021 and beyond. The online casino industry has seen a bumper year in terms of growth, with more users than ever signing up for new accounts in the early to mid-2020. For this reason, industry analysts are predicting big things to come in terms of revenue and growth rates. The latest 5G technology will be particularly important in this shift, as lower latency and quicker speeds will allow for a more realistic mobile gaming experience to be delivered to players.

With mobile gaming already a competitive and in some instances dominant format in much of Asia, and more powerful phones releasing steadily year on year, the 2020’s are likely to see the first major shift in gaming since home consoles made their way into the scene. But can the new formats take enough of a market share from sit-down session gamers in the West? Only time will tell.