Since its appearance in the 1960s and its progression with the rise of micro-computing, video games have regularly benefited from the advances of the digital world to become an art form and a global, intergenerational leisure activity.
As streaming (or Cloud Gaming) reshuffles the cards in the video game industry and 5G promises to accelerate its democratization, let us take a closer look at its contributions in terms of convergence, uses, business models, and why we think it will be the video game medium of tomorrow.
Computers have never been able to do without video games. Proof of this is the 1960s and 1970s, which saw the first so-called popular games such as Spacewar in 1962, Pong in 1972 (a very basic tennis game), and Space Invaders, which were often accessible primarily on desktop machines – the ancestors of our current microcomputers.
With the miniaturization of the computer will come the time of the consoles connected to the television set, which will propel the game in the domestic universe. The video games leave the closed framework of the game rooms to invite themselves into the heart of the living rooms and families.
Over the next 40 years, screens will have so invaded our daily lives that the use of games will be based on a wide variety of media: televisions, computers, arcade terminals, smartphones, electronic tablets, Smart TVs, and of course consoles, the latest of which are in 3D.
The video games devices will also see many changes in fixed consoles (e.g. PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube, Wii®) or portable consoles (e.g. Game Boy, DS, and PSP). In addition to wireless joysticks, there are gyroscopes that detect the position of players’ movements in space.
Futhermore, virtual reality is becoming more and more present (for example, immersive interactive simulation: visual, sound, haptic). In addition to technological advances and thanks to the emergence of social networks, the world of video games has become more social and cultural.
Pokémon GO and World of Warcraft have become social phenomena and confirm what everyone has already understood.
Video games have become a key sector in the entertainment industry and a multi-billion dollar industry.
Indeed, the world of video games is populated by characters that have become famous such as Pokémon, Mario, Sonic, Pac-Man, Rayman, or even Lara Croft, which will give rise to as many franchises and animated or cinematographic adaptations.
- Cloud Gaming or the emergence of a medium
With the arrival of Cloud Gaming technologies, video games are on the verge of a third revolution marked by:
Ultra availability: This is the possibility for everyone, everywhere, and all the time to indulge in the joys and pleasures of video gaming. This promise is about to be fulfilled thanks to the deployment of 5G, among other things, and the ability of Cloud Gaming solutions to adapt to bandwidth constraints, particularly in emerging countries where economic barriers and low bandwidth have long restricted access to video games.
Ultra pricing: It is characterized by a variety of business models: unit purchase, unlimited subscription, the introduction of a digital currency NFT to obtain virtual objects, freemium, more or less immersive and personalized advertising spaces, and all that corresponds to as many user profiles. They will cautiously but surely relegate to the background the ecosystems associated with console-type media and the closed ecosystems symbolized by the Apple App Store.
Ultra playability: Servers managing sophisticated games in agnostic mode, strong involvement of players from game creation to participation in metavers, the disappearance of social, demographic, and geographic boundaries.
Ultra-convergence: Video games inspire and aspire other art forms and converge with other disciplines such as medicine, which have integrated them into the therapeutic field (neurology, autism, cancer).
One of the most striking examples of this convergence, born during containment, is the development of virtual concerts. The most recent example of experimentation in this field is certainly the concert of the rapper Travis Scott which took place on Epic Games’ license: Fortnite. By launching a game, players were able to enjoy a creatively staged virtual concert, in which they could move freely around the star’s avatar in a performance realized through motion capture techniques.
In another turn of events, the video game world, after having plundered the musical heritage to provide soundtracks like the GTA franchise for Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Authority, sees this same publisher investing directly in the discovery and production of talent with the objective of having original music directly available and appreciated by its community, while playing the game of distribution via music streaming platforms.
Generation Z had adopted YouTube as the single screen for their video explorations, overtaking their parents’ television and platforms like Twitch.
Generation Alpha will probably be one of the Metaverse, a concept at the crossroads of virtual reality and social networks using video games and their uses.
Microsoft’s recent acquisition of the giant Activision-Blizzard for $68.7 billion will accelerate the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console, and cloud. It will provide building blocks for the Metaverse, as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed.
Of course, the virtual world is not in its infancy. Gaming, in particular, has been investing for several years. Second Life, a virtual world that created a buzz among some 30 million users in the early 2000s, is a good example. Since then, the gaming industry has been offering its virtual worlds, with increasingly elaborate and interactive content, like the virtual mini-concerts of the game Fortnite and their 12 million spectators.
But these universes remain limited to their own game, whereas the Metaverse intends to sign the advent of an interconnected virtual world and draw the contours of a future Web 3.0.
Everything will then be a question of the virtual experience’s quality. A few milliseconds too much delay in an interaction, the expression of a face (the Metaverse promises to reach this level of detail) or worse, an interruption of service, and these new virtual offers will disappoint.
So, Metaverse and other virtual worlds will only take off if they can rely on storage, connectivity, and network infrastructures that are up to the challenges that Cloud Gaming is currently facing.
- Cloud Gaming reinvents and democratizes the gaming experience
Cloud Gaming technologies, which are omnipresent among telecom operators, are now at the heart of the development strategies of console manufacturers and video game publishers. They are on the way to convert almost all gamers, thanks to an increasing improvement in performance in terms of accessibility, playability, and graphic quality.
They still have to find the right balance between economic models and creativity, mass consumption and inclusiveness, openness, and respect for ethical rules.