As a long-term gamer, I was really excited by Google’s recent announcement of its new cloud gaming service, Stadia. Not only does the tool allow players to stream games from data centers across the world in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, it's anticipated that eventually it will be able to reach 8K resolution and 120 frames per second (!) Soon, you won’t even need hardware such as consoles — just a device for streaming, using Google Chrome, literally accessing hi-resolution gaming from any device you have to hand.
It’s really mind-blowing stuff for us veteran gaming fans and a canny business move by the Internet giant. Last year, the gaming industry generated $138 billion in revenues globally, with approximately half of this amount coming from mobile gaming alone. With revenue growth expected to continue at 25% a year and the advent of cloud-based gaming fast approaching, it’s clear that Google is hoping to capitalise on the fantastic opportunities that edge computing affords and develop its user base among the 2.3 billion active gamers worldwide.
Around half of this huge gaming community is located in the Asia-Pacific region, with 80% of mobile gaming taking place on smartphones. This development, along with the rise of a new generation of data centres, signals a massive opportunity for game developers.
Winning in this environment, however, also means game developers need to gear up for a very different technology paradigm. To help them prepare for this change, it’s interesting to look back at where the gaming industry began and anticipate where it’s going to go to next.
Winding it back a bit
It’s been 37 years since Commodore International released its trailblazing 8-bit home computer, the Commodore 64 — thus kicking off the global games market.
To this day, it remains the highest-selling computer of all time. Launched at the humble price of US$595 (US$1,545 in current dollars) — and with a whopping 64 kilobytes of RAM (its namesake) it promised better audio and visuals than anything on the market. With it, Commodore promised to show gamers ‘the world of the future.’
While it certainly seemed futuristic when I myself first got one in the late 1980s, I doubt it would be quite the same feeling to un-box one today, sitting in 2019 :-) . Rewinding a Commodore Datasette, as was the standard then in the UK, and waiting an agonisingly long time for the screen to appear would rather trump the nostalgia factor.
The Commodore 64 did, however, herald the dramatic development of gaming and its global audience. Assembly-line setups of Space Invaders championships in 1980s America had people sitting cheek to cheek competing for the highest score.
The 1990s saw the development of the home entertainment system. Games like Street Fighter II enabled friends to verse each other directly instead of competing for a higher score. Fast forward to 2002 and South Korean gamers are gobsmacked by Blizzard’s real-time strategy game StarCraft, creating ‘eSports’ with multi-million dollar tournaments.
As we move forward, gaming is ramping up to be increasingly accessible and alluring. The growing ability to game on the go and play at any time / any place is changing entertainment for everyone. In Asia, smartphone ownership is already at 53%, with the gaming consumer base expected to surge. Indian gamers already total 50 million, for example, which is expected to increase to a whopping 200 million in 2020. South Korean gamers total 29 million, with more than half streaming on mobile devices. Not to mention the Chinese market, which accounts for a quarter of the region’s entire gaming revenue alone.
The New 'World of the Future'
It is edge computing that has made new cloud-based gaming services like Stadia possible. Here, computing power and memory is stored in data centres, which then broadcast games to consumers. There is no need for user hardware — other than a screen to receive the games — which means a dramatic saving on costs. Faster Internet speeds, especially the advent of 5G, will improve performance and enable even more realistic immersion in to online worlds.
All this means that the gaming technological revolution very much depends on the quality and quantity of data centres globally. Digital Realty’s growing presence across Asia Pacific — a region that contributes half of global gaming revenue — makes it a crucial player in this gaming paradigm shift.
A Trusted Digital Foundation
Our CampusConnect offering aims to give businesses fast, easy solutions to expand their core digital assets and ensure that large amounts of data reach their clients quickly. With cloud-based gaming looking to be the future, Campus Connect can host your servers, link your operating environments, and offer you data centres that transmit large quantities of information with speed and security.
Digital Realty also offers customers extremely low latency — integral to online gaming. No player wants to miss an opportunity in-game when timing is everything. In fact, there’s nothing more frustrating for players than ‘rubber banding’ (jaggedly moving in-game) or disconnecting — other than losing. They look for a seamless online experience with minimal ping and Campus Connect provides that.
Globally Connected Data Centres
As part of our global Connected Campus offerings, we’ve recently begun construction of Digital Loyang 2, a 50-megawatt data centre that will partner with Digital Loyang 1 on the east side of Singapore. Opening in mid-2020, the new site will broaden opportunities and expand digital assets for international companies into the strategic hub that is the Singapore market.
We are also very excited to be opening Digital Osaka 2 later this year as part of our Osaka Connected Campus in Japan. This next generation, close to 250,000-square-foot facility, will support up to 28 megawatts of critical IT capacity and will be a major asset for companies looking to expand their businesses across the Japanese market.
Both data centre campuses have the capabilities to prepare the gaming industry for cloud-based services. In a continent that is obsessed with gaming and results, Digital Realty creates a flexible environment to optimise data exchange so organisations can respond rapidly to changes in demand and access to their data.
From the Google Keynote at the 2019 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco
We’ve come a long way since the Commodore 64. Together, we’re moving towards stronger connectivity, even more realistic online worlds and augmented environments that we can only dream of today. We know the requirements of this journey well and that is why Digital Realty remains the trusted foundation for powering our customers’ digital ambitions.
Thank you for reading, and of course, Happy Gaming! ;-)