As we dive headlong into the 2020s, it's a mobile world we are living in. Our smartphones have become the go-to device for all our online activities. As far as ordering a pizza, chatting on social media or even doing our banking is concerned, that's no news to anyone. The aspect that raises an eyebrow, however, is that gaming has caught the mobile bug just as much as everything else.
As recently as a year or two ago, mobile games were seen as "gaming lite." Sure, there was a good choice of games available, many of which were free to play. But the very phrase "mobile version" brought connotations of a poor relation to the gaming experience delivered by PC or console.
With the latest generation of smartphones, however, all that has changed. Mobile is now the platform of choice for gaming, just like it is for everything else. In fact, the mobile gaming market is roughly the size of the PC and console markets put together. That growth will only accelerate as the following new technologies take full effect over the coming months.
5G eliminating latency
The clue to the major advantage of a mobile platform is in the name. It's all about the flexibility to do what you want when and where you want without being tied to a desk or even needing to be within range of a WiFi connection. Yet right now, a patchy signal can be an issue for gamers. If you're playing a mobile eSport game, the last thing you want is to suddenly disconnect. Even worse, imagine playing a real money mobile slot game and losing your data connection at a critical moment.
5G will improve bandwidth, but also reduce latency. That means any time lag between you and other players will be negligible. So if you are playing a sports game with a friend thousands of miles away, it will be as if you are sitting in the same room using controllers on a console.
Virtual reality - for real
The VR age has experienced more than a few false dawns, but 5G will also be instrumental in making VR gaming a practical reality. It seems increasingly likely that standalone VR headsets like the Oculus Rift are a red herring and the future of VR is, like everything else, entwined with our mobile handsets.
In an interview with Metro last year, VR guru Sol Rogers predicted that by 2039, use of VR will be as commonplace as use of mobile is today. If you look at the rate of progress over the past 20 years, the only question raised is whether that timeline might be a good deal shorter.
Our heads in the Cloud
Cloud-based tech has revolutionized the way we watch movies via platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. It doesn't take a major leap of the imagination to see that gaming is almost certain to follow a similar path - especially as we enter the 5G age.
Google Stadia might have had some teething problems, but you can say that about any emerging technology. It and Microsoft xCloud will keep each other honest, and Apple Arcade is providing similar gaming opportunities for iPhone users.