CES Panel: The Evolution of Cloud-Streaming Games with 5G

GameSpot editor-in-chief Randolph Ramsay moderated a panel of game industry experts discussing how 5G will change that industry. “5G’s high speed and low latency will be the next big disruption,” he said. Blade Group platform evangelist Bill Rehbock spoke about his company’s Shadow PC streaming service, which provides a complete Windows 10 PC to users. “5G picks up with a minimum of where 4G left off,” he said. “5G makes hand-over [from tower to tower] so robust it will be an enabling technology.”

According to streaming software Parsec’s co-founder/chief executive Benjy Boxer (below right), his company — which allows gamers in remote locales to play, watch and share games together — will be able to provide competitive Internet connectivity. SuperData Research chief executive Joost van Dreunen (below, between Rehbock and Boxer) noted that, “the promise of cloud gaming is universal and mainstream.”

“If we can get there, it’ll get a lot of people excited,” he said. “There’s an opening for the Googles of the world to get involved in this.”

CNET host/senior game editor Jeff Bakalar pointed out that consumers aren’t interested in technical specs, but rather simply want a seamless experience. “I have an ISP that isn’t very good,” he said. “I’m waiting to have that central 5G in my house so I don’t have to worry about the up-and-down speeds I’m getting.” Rehbock added that, “5G allows cloud gaming to be mobile.”

“Cloud-gaming services that didn’t have what consumers wanted were a big let down,” he said. “5G will solve all the problems, fingers crossed.”

Boxer said that consumers will only switch to a new experience when there’s something unique about it. “With 5G infrastructure, it’ll take time for content creators to create something you can’t do on your local PC,” he said. “It’ll be a better experience than cloud gaming. Local always is.” Van Dreunen added that consumers go where the content is. “What drives consumers is content,” he said. “I’m a fan of 5G, but I don’t need it to get there. It’s a goal post along the way.”

As 5G rolls out, the gamers are all looking forward to different things. Rehbock is eager to see people in parks playing augmented reality games. “You can pick up your phone and take part or just be a spectator,” he said. “It’ll be a game changer in this class of gaming.” Bakalar noted that, with the advent of broadband, the “Call of Duty” Killer Cam “felt like a special technology I’d never seen before.”

“If 5G delivers what we’re praying for, I would hope to be able to be surprised again,” he said. “But I don’t know how that translates into a gaming experience.”