After years of speculation, confusion and promises, 5G is now a reality. It’s available in certain cities in a variety of countries including the US, UK and a variety of other nations allowing you to take hold of the next-gen internet technology. You’ll have to be with the right provider, live in a certain area and have a compatible device, but if you’re determined enough to get the latest version of mobile internet then you’ll be able to do so right now.
But, what is 5G? Well, it’s essentially the next step up in mobile internet. Think of it as a super-charged version of 4G that you currently get on your phone that'll allow for faster downloads and a more stable connection thanks to lower latency.
Video games are one of the areas that are often cited by manufacturers, networks and others pushing ahead with 5G technology. Below we’ve put together a list of five reasons why the next-gen internet tech may be able to change the way you game in the years to come, but note that these aren’t the only ways it may impact your gaming life.
1. Cloud gaming could reach new heights
Some believe cloud gaming will be the future of video games, and with projects like Google Stadia set to launch at the end of 2019 it may be changing the way you play sooner than you’d think. Existing service PlayStation Now hasn’t set the world alight and inspired many to embrace cloud gaming, but it has been a solid start in introducing the concept to the masses.
With 5G technology, cloud gaming should be able to seamlessly work on portable devices without any latency issues and it may even allow you to stream top-end games to your tablet or phone without you even noticing that you’re not playing on a PC or console.
Cyberpunk 2077 (opens in new tab) – one of the most ambitious video games set to launch in 2020 – has been confirmed as a title that will come to the Google Stadia (opens in new tab) platform. Could you one day be playing that sort of game on your phone? Cloud gaming is likely to be the way that would become a reality, and 5G could push it forward.
2. New portable consoles could have it built-in
Nintendo’s Ko Shiota, general manager of platform technology development, confirmed during a company shareholder meeting that it is looking into 5G tech to see what’s possible.
That’s not confirmation that the technology will be used in a future Nintendo product – he even said the company doesn’t “follow trends just because they are popular” – but it is a sign that the big console manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice of 5G.
A 5G version of the Nintendo Switch could allow you to play multiplayer games when you’re on the go with little lag thanks to improved latency. You’d be able to zoom around a Mario Kart track or complete a fight in Super Smash Bros without concern that you’re playing against people on solid Wi-Fi. It’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, but it may be the future of handheld consoles lies in their ability to connect to the internet. If that’s the case, 5G is sure to be on the list of core features many want.
3. Mobile gaming itself may grow
A lot of mobile games are played while on the move, but 5G could allow for more stable connections that allow you to play online without worrying about dropping out of a game or your mobile internet not being good enough to play at all.
As 5G grows, we may see more multiplayer mobile games as developers realise that more and more people are able to play online while away from their home internet.
Multiplayer is an area where mobile gaming has struggled in the past and while it is possible on a strong 4G connection or on Wi-Fi, this should allow you to be able to play those sorts of games when you’re on your commute or, in fact, anywhere.
4. It should help improve virtual reality
Lag is one of the reasons that early ventures into virtual reality could prove so sickening for the player. While that’s improving through other means as well, lower latency over 5G should allow for an even better VR experience.
5G is sure to be a big deal for mobile virtual reality platforms, but it could also bring benefits to other rivals such as future versions of PlayStation VR or HTC’s Vive. If you’ve got a 5G connection available in your home, it should allow for lower latency and that could in the future offer a better experience overall.
If those developing for virtual reality platforms know that there are lots of players with access to 5G, they may even be able to do things that just haven’t been possible so far thanks to guaranteed lower latency. There’s currently no telling what improvements could be brought to VR if 5G is properly embraced by players.
5. It could replace traditional broadband
Don’t like your home broadband at the moment? 5G may be able to help improve online play as it’s coming to your home as well as mobile devices. In the UK, Three has already launched its 5G platform for home internet allowing you to use the technology in certain locations to get a good connection with ease.
That’s currently only available in selected areas, but in time it’s expected to launch in more locations and allow you to experience a better connection in your home so you can avoid lag when playing online.
If your current home broadband is poor, this may even allow you to download games – and any updates that you need to play them – onto your console or PC quicker than before with 5G’s top download speeds.