Back at college I vividly remember writing an essay about the future of the internet. The conclusion was that everything was going to get faster, and there’d be more content.
Up until fairly recently, that conclusion has been fairly accurate. As the years have gone by, we’ve moved from 3G to 4G and our home internet connections have gone from dial-up modems to ultra-fast WiFi connections throughout the home.
It still applies to some degree, but the advent of 5G and even faster home connections has mean that we’re no longer measuring the growth of the internet in “download times”. Now it’s all about the additional experiences you can get and the changes that are happening to our lives as a result.
As an example, this weekend we heard news that the BBC licence fee could be scrapped. This is due to the existing setup being quite antiquated, and with subscription TV services becoming more popular and easier to use, the competition are muscling in. Getting the TV you want, when you want, is now easier than ever thanks to ultra-fast internet connectivity and big content providers who benefit from a global reach with smaller infrastructure costs.
In gaming, solutions like Google Stadia have maximised the crazy high-speed connections too. Video games are streamed across your broadband and ISP’s are also getting in on the act by bundling Stadia into certain packages. At £119 and then £8.99, there’s games like DOOM, Destiny 2, Final Fantasy, Avengers and Tomb Raider available. All you need is a controller and a Chromecast Ultra. With 4K video at 60FPS you can also play on certain mobile phones too.
Imagine that a few years ago. Top-end movies and TV content plus on-demand gaming – all through your TV, your phone and a web connection. No additional boxes, no discs to buy or waiting for downloads. It’s instant, it’s now.
Likewise, even if you don’t have the likes of Stadia, you can game easily through a browser or Google Play Instant. Most of the time you don’t even need a high-end piece of kit. Playing games like Jammin’ Jars slot on your phone is just a matter of clicking a link – the clever HTML5 browser technology means that your phone isn’t slowed down by old-style Flash any more. Instead, you get the same experience that you would if you’d locally installed something.
Of all the technologies though, 5G will have the biggest impact. People will no longer worry about buffering or how much time it’ll take to achieve tasks. Everything will be instant and it will close the traditional gap between “on device gaming” and “cloud gaming”. We’ve likely to see more online gaming (Hatch, GeForce Now, Parsec, Playkey, Paperspace, Vortex etc are just some of the players competing in this space), with more capabilities (VR) and more games.
The thing that players will want to see is probably one or two major choices. Like the current state of streaming TV, it’s difficult to get all of the content without subscribing to multiple different companies. Apple TV, Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime would all have to be purchased monthly just to see those “big series” that you overhear in the office, so let’s hope that gaming doesn’t go the same way and you’re able to get a decent choice no matter who you subscribe to.