Like almost everything else, video games have gone mobile. In fact, global spending on mobile games exceeded $59 billion in 2017, compared to $8.3 billion for traditional gaming consoles, according to SuperData Research.

This demand for immersive, mobile gaming is starting push the physical limitations of today’s super-slim devices. There’s only so much processing power you can cram into a device designed to slip into your back pocket.

With this type of processing power at the press of a button, the gaming industry will continue to see a transformation in players making the move to mobile. For the traditional gamers out there that haven’t yet made the switch, edge computing could open up a world where they won’t have to worry about needing to regularly upgrade to expensive, physical consoles.

Edge computing is helping us solve this problem, as well as for the challenges ahead. As we evolve network access to cloud computation with 5G, we’re also moving data centers and other compute capabilities closer to gamers with the help of edge computing. Edge computing could make it possible to have a high-end console in the palm of your hand.

Why is edge computing important for gamers?

In its simplest form, edge computing could eventually reduce the workload and battery drain on your mobile device while providing a high-end user experience. For video games that use extreme processing power, edge computing moves all that work to the cloud. This reduces the strain on your device. And the geographic proximity and low-latency network access to a 5G connection mean a better mobile gaming experience. And you get it without the lag.

For instance, take augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) mobile gaming. These immersive experiences require astronomical levels of computing power. At the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto, California, we’re starting to work with companies like GridRaster to test low-latency network access to cloud computation for enhanced AR/VR mobile experiences.

Edge gaming could someday provide the user-experience gamers have come to know and love from their traditional consoles, directly on their mobile devices. Edge computing can make the mobile gaming experience seamless, immersive and responsive – wherever you are.

What does the future of gaming look like?        

With our commitment to launching mobile 5G this year, edge computing is an essential element to our 5G strategy. Mobile gaming poses unique challenges that you don’t find in, say, listening to music or streaming a video.

And beyond mobile gaming, edge computing will help transform the gaming console industry at large. Players will worry less about buying the latest, expensive console or gaming PC – and will focus more on playing their favorite games when and where they want.

For gamers, a few milliseconds could mean the difference between winning and losing. Gaming depends on near-instant feedback and constant interactivity. We recently showed what 5G and edge computing could mean for gamers at a demo at the annual E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles.

Along with mobile gaming, new connected use cases like self-driving cars and augmented and virtual reality require messages to go back and forth across the network faster than ever before. We’re focused on ensuring high-quality and seamless interactive user experiences, whether you’re at home or on-the-go.

Andre Fuetsch
Andre Fuetsch President – AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer