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You need to see why 5G is the future of AR gaming

5G will make augmented reality gaming both more mobile and immersive. Imagine no lag and a totally secure connection. Explore highlights from our “Ready, steady, game!” report.

Research Leader Industry Lab

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Research Leader Industry Lab

Research Leader Industry Lab

Are you, like me, an online gamer? Does your pulse start to race when a new video game has a multiplayer option? Do you still buy your video games on physical disks, or are you already downloading or even streaming your games these days?

And how will 5G transform gaming?

My colleague Peter and I talked to consumers around the world about these kinds of issues in our latest gaming report “Ready, steady, game!” published earlier this year.

Our report includes several datapoints on the importance of immersive experiences. But simply put, a key take-away is that for many gamers, the “getting away from reality” is a strong motive for playing video games in the first place. So, the more immersive a game experience can be, the easier it will be for the gamer to escape the mundane world.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) both offer an unprecedented opportunity to really feel immersed, as you cut away any peripheral distractions. Today, playing on the phone, or even on a large TV screen still means that a part of the real world will intrude on your gaming experience. The larger the screen, the less real-world intrusion you will have. With new kinds of wearables, the level of immersion can go even further.

Immersion is the key to the future of AR gaming

Today let us focus on AR.

48 percent of all consumers say they will use AR in the next five years across different media types, including gaming.

When we focus on current AR gamers, 7 out of 10 think AR offers a totally new gaming experience. It is not just a minor evolution.

Yet right now, AR gamers are disappointed by the limited field of view of AR games. Until this issue is solved, we will never feel truly immersed.


At the moment, there's no depth to an AR game. It's literally like: 'Okay, I can fight Kylo Ren, and then if I close and reopen it, he is going to do the same motions again.' I feel that AR is still in its infancy.
Mitch, 28, UK



Almost 4 out of 10 said that AR gaming will be more interesting with better and more immersive games, access to lower-cost AR glasses and better batteries.


Changes that would make AR games more interesting


In the future, gyms and fitness centers will be able to improve indoor training. You can run or cycle as if you are on a beach, in the woods or on a country road – all in your gym or home.

Nearly half our respondents agreed that multiplayer AR sports, like playing football or badminton, would be very interesting.

5G and AR mean a leap in the evolution of gaming

For me, this is a welcome return to topic that has held a special place in my heart, ever since I was a teenager.

Video games have undergone a fantastic evolution since the first electronic game consoles in the second half of the 1960s. It is easy to think about how much better the graphics of today’s games are than that old Pong game. But the evolution did not stop there!

Today we can play on huge 4K screens and on small smartphone screens, as well as using AR or VR glasses. We control the game with many different types of controllers, including using our bodies and limbs. We now play games wherever we are, and we play with people next to us, or with someone that lives on the other side of the world!

Yet it is not enough to have a good game device. The internet connection must also be excellent, with high bandwidth and very low latency, or else the gaming experience will suffer!

This is exactly what 5G is designed to do. Network slicing, distributed cloud, and edge computing technologies will together guarantee stable performance and ultra-low latency.



“The last thing a gamer ever wants is lag. Having 5G technology just ripping the cord of latency problems is so important. If you think of all the virtual reality technology that we have right now, there are literal strings attached; using 5G technology in order to have you immersed in that world is really leveling things up.”

—Mari Takahashi, or “AtomicMari” – one of the top names in the world of gaming. She has an audience of more than 2 million across her social media channels. She is a former professional ballet dancer and cofounder of a top-ranking gaming brand – Smosh Games – which has 7.4 million subscribers.




Extreme multi-gamers are pioneers for 5G gaming

But just because we can do something, does it necessarily mean that someone is doing it?

I mean, when I was a teenager, all of my gaming was more or less entirely off-line. You bought the game on a cassette, diskette, CD and later on DVD, and you could only play games with people in the same room as you. Online gaming was not really a thing back then.

In our recent study, we decided to dive into this. We created several gamer segments based on consumers' actual gaming devices, habits and attitudes.

It turned out the most extreme group, which we called Extreme multi-gamers, makes up roughly 10 percent of the total sample. This group plays a lot and does it across all platforms: Smartphone, tablet, PC and game console. In fact, they account for almost half of all the time spent on video gaming!

A significant portion of this gaming takes place online. In fact, 94 percent of theses extreme multi-gamers play online games and 91 percent play multiplayer games! One-third of them have in fact increased their multi-player gaming since 2013 and expect to further increase it in the next 5 years!

These extreme multigamers are also over-represented in AR usage. While only one in four use AR today among the studied general population, we discovered that no less than three out of four extreme multigamers do the same!

Their interest in AR gaming specifically is also much higher – 84 percent of them express high interest, compared to 66 percent for the studied general population.



So what does all this have to do with 5G? Well, for those of us not fortunate enough to live in a household with a reasonably priced fiber connection, 5G is now coming to the rescue.

With its gaming-friendly low latency and extreme speeds, 5G stands to become a great equalizer, enabling all of us to join the quest or that immersive, and demanding, online multiplayer gaming experience.

But 5G is offering more than just an alternative to fiber, it will also enable gamers to cut the cord and move out into the world. Mobile gaming will no longer be focused on time-killing games such as Candy Crush.

5G will also enable immersive online gaming on any screen where the game actually runs on a server in the cloud and is then streamed to the device of choice, much in the same way as you stream a Netflix movie!


Looking back, gaming experiences have undergone a tremendous change, and more often than not, gamers have applauded the gradual increase of immersion.

However, many of the improvements we have seen so far have been limited to enhancing the visual experience, including better graphics, faster processing and smoother gameplay. However, immersion is more than just a visual experience.

Going forward I think we will see that also our other senses targeted, for example through binaural audio, tactile experiences that go beyond force feedback controllers, and perhaps even smell and taste!

I for one, can’t wait until my virtual alter ego can run up the hill to storm the enemy at Normandy. I can’t wait to smell a mix of gunpowder, mud and wet grass in the air and hear the friendly air support coming up behind me.

Are you ready to join me?

Explore more

Read our Augmented Reality Gaming report in full today.

Watch today’s gamers reveal their gaming habits and expectations for the future.

This week, we are teaming up with AtomicMari (a.k.a Mari Takahashi) at MWC LA to talk about 5G, gaming trends and the future of AR gaming. 


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