CES: Mobile Game Execs Talk About Impact of Emerging 5G

According to a group of game experts, 5G will likely skyrocket the reach and power of mobile games. IQ Labs founder Julian Mitchell moderated a conversation with Activision Blizzard vice president Jonathan Stringfield, Niantic director of product management Tom Emrich and THNDR Games chief executive Desiree Dickerson on the current and future prospects of mobile gaming. Emrich pointed to Niantic’s Campfire that gives players a place to connect. “The industry outside gaming has embraced it as the new social network,” he said. “Games are more than games — they’re synonymous with the metaverse.”

Stringfield pointed out that mobile gaming has the biggest audiences. “That’s where the marketing opportunities are,” he said. “We’re looking to expand all our IP into this space.”

Dickerson noted that her company’s mobile games reach a bigger demographic than traditional games, as well as users across the globe “who can’t participate in traditional gaming because they can’t afford a gaming PC or console.”

“We have a lot of problems with people with poor Internet access or low-resource phones,” she said. “With 5G, these [users] would have a much better experience.”

That will include U.S. users who don’t get broadband, said Stringfield, who added that 5G also “will enable a lot of experiences in AR, moving computational requirements to the cloud.”

Dickerson added that, “as a small gaming company, 5G widens the aperture for monetization and better experiences for our users.” It also opens the door to in-game advertising, she said, as well as “the real world value” of a payment level integrated across social commerce.

Panelists agreed that 5G will enable more active experiences that counter the stigma of gaming as a passive activity. Niantic’s Emrich is not only excited by 5G but also Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 7 and edge computing, which could provide more immersive AR and enable shared AR experiences.

“At CES 2023, we’re seeing the rise of mixed reality,” he said. “It showcases AR and VR as two sides of the same coin … The future of gaming is about enabling players to continue creating the immersive world.”

In the meantime, concluded Stringfield, “gaming is leading the path to the metaverse.” “These are the unique experiences that people will seek out once the barriers are removed by 5G,” he said.

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