So it's in some ways unpredictable in terms of its impact. It could introduce more cloud-based services, such as the Hatch curated game service that Sprint launched with its 5G service. It could bring more multiplayer games and subscription titles, as well as other things.
To study this topic, we convened a panel about 5G and gaming at a recent webinar. Our panel included Marc Cook, solution account director at Treasure Data; Nick Thomas, Vice President of Commercial Partnerships at Hatch; and Bryan Fries, vice president of 5G Strategy at Sprint.
One of the changes that 5G wants to bring is more subscription services, akin to Apple Launched this week on older 4G technology as well as Sprint's Hatch service on 5G. [1
GamesBeat: Nick and Bryan, I wondered if you could tell more about what you announced on August 27, related to 5G. What is available now and where is it available?
Thomas: Sure, I can talk more about the service and let Bryan cover the coverage and availability points. I mentioned this at the top of the call, but Hatch is a mobile game streaming platform. Spotlight and Netflix.
What we're doing is bringing Hatch, which is an application that the user downloads on their mobile device. Within that application there's a portfolio. We have more than 150 games live at this point, with many more coming. Sprint's 5G network. [19659002ThepowerofSprint's5GnetworkThisisessentiallyandforaclichetermaSpotifyorNetflixstyleservicebutit'smuchdeeperthanthatandwe'llgetintosomeofthesocialbenefitsthatcomewithitdeeperintothistopic Fries: The service that they've developed at Hatch is tremendous. We're so happy to be in charge of the network that service launches on the United States. They have it in many markets around the world. Last week what our capstone event has launched 5G in. We have nine markets across the country, covering about 2,100 square miles and 11 million people today.
Sprint's 5G technology. As you look at Hatch and Sprint's partnership, Sprint's 5G technology is unique in the respect that our spectrum that 5G is different than anyone else in the industry. The advantage that gives us, at least in the early years of 5G, is that we can go on to deliver exponential improvements in performance when it comes to speed and latency, in many more locations, a much larger geography, than anyone else in the country.
What that means experientially is that when it comes to doing so, it is possible that these advantages are going to be available to our customers in more places than any other carrier can offer for a while. 5G for streamed gameplay.
GamesBeat: We'll be taking a look at all of this our first group question that each of you can tackle. What trends have had the most impact on gaming revenues, and how does this shift in the future? Let's start with Marc.
Cook: From my perspective, the thing we've seen, is the free-to-play mobile game. Mobile is the biggest group of gaming that's growing. The impact is really-there are so many free-to-play games. It's a struggle to monetize or offer a game at an initial cost.
That's probably the biggest trend I've seen, that's free-to-play model. But at the same time, I think it's bringing in more gamers to gaming, and increasing the overall gaming culture.
Thomas: I agree, I think Free-to-play has been the biggest impact on gaming revenue. But I see that as part of a broader arc. I've been in the gaming industry for close to 20 years. I've spent almost all of that time in the casual game domain. You back up to the early 2000s, it was more of the PC downloadable era, with hidden object games and developers like Popcap and Playfirst who developed this market. Moving into social gaming powered by players like Zynga and experiences like FarmVille. That's a 15-year arc there.
That's a 15-year arc there. About every five years or so, there is a change in the economy or the delivery mechanism of the content. What's interesting is how it has moved in parallel with mobile devices, at least in the mobile domain, with the power of these phones now rival the last generation of consoles. You have a combination of free games powered by these very powerful consoles in your pocket, essentially. That's really shifted the industry in a massive way.
It's also complemented by developer tools like Unity coming around. Now you have the three-legged stool, where you have a console in your pocket with free games that are very easy to make, or at least much easier with toolkits like Unity. That's been a massive change. Marc's talking about. It's very exciting.
We see it as part of a longer evolution. Economies and other ways to discover content when there are so many games out there in this very crowded field. I think we'll talk about that some more later. But this is going to shift into the future, we think, will be in this next evolution.
If you think about subscription services, they will not work well with in-app purchases. They are not structurally aligned with the way those games are built. In the free-to-play world, that's not all. Adventure games, or even something like a hidden object game, or strategy, or narrative experiences.
We see it. Those are very difficult in a world that's driven by in-app purchases, where the game design is shaped around that currency and how they're going to motivate players to pay for themselves. " as a bit of a pendulum swinging back the other way to the premium world, where subscription makes a lot of sense and players have access to a whole portfolio of games that are not built in-app purchase requirements and so forth.  Above: 5G gaming
Image Credit: VentureBeat
Fries: My thoughts on the subject of mobility, as Marc said, has been driving the proliferation of gaming in recent years. You have read many years of solid double-digit compared to single-digit, low single-digit in the other platforms.
From a carrier's perspective, we've been able to say that it helped, or more – I've seen stats as high as two-thirds – of wireless subscribers in the United States play casually at least once a month. You start thinking about the size of that market. You're talking in the hundreds of millions of players. Without it, they have not got the level of engagement to play at the PC or PC level, but they are now gaming on their devices. Nick made a great point about the power of the devices and the proliferation of mobile networks. That's cultivated on a massive market for gaming. It's still growing faster than any other segment.
As we look ahead, that trend is definitely going on with 5G what you'll see is the content we're about to deliver over mobile devices, whether it's a handset or a tablet or even a laptop that's connected wirelessly via a hotspot like we offer today-you can deliver content than you could otherwise, because of the extra bandwidth that 5G brings. You have greater capacity and better performance in terms of speeds and latency. That just gets better over time. Even in the early days, it's remarkably better than 4G, but it wants to get better from here on forward. This is very exciting. It takes what's already a very good experience and supercharges it.
The other thing is that you'll see-I do not think that's what it's all about a social experience that's unlike anything we've ever seen. Gaming has traditionally been about a lot of solo play. More and more this is a social activity than a solo activity. That's a really exciting trend as well. It dramatically increases the engagement when you're playing with friends. Everything's more fun with friends. 5G brings.
In the longer term, the changes will be more dramatic. As the networks become more ubiquitous, gaming categorically is transformed, both content and content are used for experiences, gaming experiences. We'll be talking about things different than playing games on a laptop or a laptop, more like venue-centered experiences.
GamesBeat: To make a comment on my own, I attended the E3 show this year in Los Angeles. Ubisoft's CEO, Yves Guillemot, made some headlines 5 billion people playing games in 10 years. It was an interesting prediction.
It's a bit hard to parse how to get so many more billions of players. That's one thing that would help make that happen. But right now there are 7.6 billion people on earth, and in 10 years we'll have a lot more than that. Still, it's hard to see both the very old and very young playing games. We'll see how that prediction goes.
For now, I'd like to dig a little bit into 5G. That's just getting started. What are the benefits going to be for consumers? Bryan, tell us your view on that.
Fries: In the short term, we're already seeing some models that are really centered on the promise of 5G. This is the promise of play anywhere, at any time, on any screen.
We're talking about making higher-end gaming experiences more portable, or nomadic if you want to , That's important.
Down the road in this diversity of content. We've seen this happening in audio, and in video shortly thereafter, where you went from buying a package to the shelf to subscription models. The dynamic that occurs when the content changes – I like to use the analogy that when you're sitting in a restaurant and ordering from a menu, you might get one entree, but you're at a buffet, you try all different things. It encourages people to try different options, because there's no risk if they do not like it.
People want to try more things. Demand wants to go through the roof for the type of content we're talking about here. That's very exciting. The balance of it, though, is that it will harder and harder to establish franchise titles because of the dynamics of diversity and engagement in directions. As we think about what 5G does in the longer term, publishers and content creators are going to consider how they manage that balance, in particular, they do not tolerate the quality of their content , If we reflect on the past 12 to 18 months, we've probably all examples in our minds where folks may have gone one side or the other of that equation. Those in the near and intermediate term are
Thomas: My views on this are three primary ways to show and benefit consumers. Bryan said, through variety of content.
The discoverability piece is important. We're seeing this issue in services like Netflix, where there's so much content out there. It becomes intimidating to try and find new things. You depend on your friends or other sources of information to figure out where you want to invest your time. That's even more of a challenge in gaming, especially mobile gaming, where you can go to the app stores today, type in something like "tower defense game," and there will be thousands of games. You can scroll and scroll endlessly. That's a big problem for consumers. How do you decide which one you want to try?
What's happened is that consumers have fall back to relying on top of what they are doing -grossing titles or editor's choice titles or whatever's featured on Apple or Google on a particular day to help them find content. That's problematic on a few levels, but for the customer, it's problematic just because it really narrows the amount of content out there that's available to them.
One of the benefits of 5G gaming is that it's able to instantly try games. Within a curated catalog, which is Hatch offers – and that hopefully addresses the broader problem of a sea of options. If it's not for you, they've beented 30 seconds or whatever. They are unable to do so because of the intimidation factor, or just the inconvenience of having to wait to download and install and go through the setup process. Discoverability is a big pain point for customers.
GamesBeat: I wanted to jump in here and have you explain a bit more. With 4G gaming today you can go to the Play Store and use the Try Now button to explore a playable ad for a game. You get started and see what it's like. This notion of instantly trying something is available now. Are you saying that 5G does this better?
Thomas: The difference is that with the instant play-not all games have that. It does not actually offer the full game. It's a sort of preview experience, which is better than nothing. You can watch videos and see what the game looks like, the art and the general mechanics and so on. It's still different from being able to actually play the game. It's more like watching a preview of a movie than it's ready to start, and if it's not your thing, you can jump to the next thing.
With subscription you can freely try content. You do not need to pay for each game, which has been a big issue for premium games. The combination of 5G and the instant playability that offers, as well as the subscription model, allows us unrestricted access to try experience and find what you like.
The other point was social enablement. Bryan spoke to this. We think this is great. This is actually one of the core tentpoles we've been building, which we're using to play with you. We even see that influencing the discoverability issue as well. Having a platform where you can enjoy your friends, or see what they are doing and what they are doing is a very important component of that missing from gaming today.
Hatch was built around the notion of the lonely gamer, which is the idea that we're all immersed in technology, and we have all these ways to connect to one another their gaming experiences on their mobile device. [TheideaofHatchandcloudgamingingeneralhowit'spoweredby5Gtechnologyreallyhelpstoaddressthat'swhereyoucanengageinrealtimewithyourfriendsplaywiththemandshareexperienceswiththem The last piece is just the variety of content. Bryan what speaking to this as well. The ability to allow people to try new experiences and try games that are in the relatively narrow vein of proven mechanics like a match-three format, for example. There are many other experiences out there that we think customers are hungry for. This perfect combination of streaming with a subscription service allows people to both develop content that is not narrowly in the free-to-play world, and so allow customers to find things that are not in a limited sphere now.
Cook: I just take that from the perspective of a consumer, because Nick and Bryan answered the question. When it comes to games, the tighter the latency, the more accurate the gameplay. 5G is going to take that to the next level. Any kind of latency complaints are going to disappear. Realtime action games come about. I'm excited to see that. It's another side benefit.
GamesBeat: I'm Curious How 5G Is Going to Fit With Some Other Gaming Technologies. We've mentioned cloud gaming as well.
Fries: I'm happy to take a crack at it. I like this a lot. This is fun to think about. What we've been talking about, from a gaming standpoint, is going to be consumed.
The next stage is how the content gets redefined and used in ways that we do not use it today. New content altogether. Early proof points are already there. We've seen some really cool augmented reality examples, where AR is paired with gaming experiences. That's worked pretty well. It's definitely captured the imaginations of a lot of people, working in an imperfect network experience. On 4G networks it works well, but with 5G, when you have massive amounts of increased capacity and improved latency, the responsiveness of the interaction is real-time. There's so much more potential there.
That's where we start to think about gaming technology in a different light. It's not the platform we're used to. Those platforms may be used in an entirely different way. AR is a great step forward there. VR experience, it's super impressive, but there are still encumbrances, including the form factor of the devices and the video quality available. If you want good video quality, you still need wires and a PC.
5G offers the promise to all those things. Being able to process data in the cloud instead of on the headset alleviates the form factor requirements. These things can become more comfortable for long periods of wearing them. You can disconnect yourself from the wires in an ultra-high-definition streaming into each eye over a wireless network, instead of requiring wires. Then you start thinking about how to translate IP, publisher IP, into an entire new gaming experience using VR.
Finally, if you think even bigger, I've had engagements with a number of amazing companies that are building experiential venues, entire That's what consumers want in an environment that provides an experience that they've never conceived before. Whether that's for sports fans, being able to share a physical experience with your favorite team, or a venue that is tailored to combining physical architecture, theater, and virtualized elements
There are many reasons why this is not the case in reality , but now you're talking about incorporating content and IP in totally different ways. In the long term, the intersection of these technologies is really exciting.
Thomas: Based on our launch event-we had a really exciting event in Los Angeles where we launched the Hatch and Sprint partnership. PC game experience, where there were four high-powered PCs with gamers who were playing Fortnite. That's all powered by this HTC Blink Box, which is essentially a 5G modem. These were not wired experiences, but they were traditional console / PC game experiences.
To me that's really interesting, because it brings this opportunity to effectively replace the 5G provides in-home wired connection for general utility, and therefore for gaming experiences. Conceptually that was not really difficult to grasp, but it was a super-high-quality Fortnite experience. Somewhere, 5G technology has massive immediate value for gamers. Then, of course, you can bring that to mobile as well. Hatch tournament ” width=”800″ height=”450″ srcset=”https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=1200&strip=all 1200w, https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=300&strip=all 300w, https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=768&strip=all 768w, https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=800&resize=800%2C450&strip=all&strip=all 800w, https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=400&strip=all 400w, https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=780&strip=all 780w, https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=578&strip=all 578w, https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sprint-hatch.jpg?w=930&strip=all 930w” sizes=”(max-width: 800px) 100vw, 800px” data-recalc-dims=”1″/>
Image Credit: Sprint / Hatch