Presented by Verizon

It’s no surprise that the latest generation of video game consoles is more popular than the average collectible sneaker launch. The wave of excitement that comes with each shoe launch inspires competition among collectors, and those same forces push gamers to scour retailers in hopes of unlocking hours of entertainment with a new gaming console.

Now imagine if after getting that coveted game, you still have to fight to play. Imagine all that excitement has to be tempered because the next-gen game relied on last-gen infrastructure that wasn’t made to handle it. Mobile gamers and developers don’t need to imagine that; that’s been their reality — until now.

I spent much of 2020 speaking to people who wondered, “Why do I need 5G?”

“Gaming” was one of my favorite replies. 5G can offer speeds significantly faster than 4G LTE and, more importantly, it can enable ultra-low lag and massive capacity. Players can tap a button and get an almost instant response, which makes all the difference when a split second can influence who wins and who waits for the next round, lamenting their loss.

Niantic Founder and CEO John Hanke recently shared that 100,000 players at a Pokémon GO event in Germany once pushed local capacity to hang on “by the skin of our teeth.” The promise of 5G is made clear in those moments. It’s not simply because current games and players demand better performance, but because new capabilities can empower bolder ideas to bring the real world and virtual together.

5G and the next step in gaming

The 5G era presents an opportunity for truly disruptive, immersive experiences that require more than building a faster horse. This is a moment for automobiles, or better yet, spaceships. 5G is a supercharged rocket ready to transform mobile and cloud gaming, and we should think bigger about what comes next.

5G can enable faster response times, so let’s build games that support advanced AR gaming competitions anywhere at any time. Cloud-based gaming can be vastly superior with 5G, so now is as good a time as any to blur the lines between console and mobile even further.

Let’s reimagine virtual drone racing or cross-platform showdowns between friends in the park. Multiplayer is a must-have experience for many gamers, and 5G offers an opportunity to invite more players and create more challenging scenarios. John Hanke and I explored what that might mean when discussing 5G and the metaverse, the convergence of the physical and virtual worlds, but there’s so much more to discover and build to get towards that future.

5G for developers

While gamers might crave better graphics and faster load times, titles are ultimately judged by the experiences they create. What experiences can we deliver with 5G that weren’t previously available?

I’d be interested in knowing what choices a developer might make if network performance was no longer a major concern. If we can bring the computing power to the edge of the network, as we’re doing with 5G Edge, there’s more room for development, creativity and capability. Games can be more immersive and dynamic in ways we probably can’t even imagine.

When I think about 5G’s impact on every industry, this illustration showing the difference in developer perception drives the point home beautifully:

5G has the potential to nurture more creativity, so Verizon built 5G for gamers. We worked closely with esports pros, device manufacturers, and game developers to create the infrastructure necessary for next-gen gaming.

Building our 5G Labs has taught us how to create a superior connection that empowers developers and players, and we’re constantly seeking ways to advance our edge on network experience.

We often host events to showcase the power of our 5G Ultra Wideband network, but a switch to virtual events inspired us to think bigger. In February, Verizon hosted the largest activation ever built in Fortnite’s Creative Mode, and 5G was at the heart of its development. More than 40 million Fortnite players entered the Verizon 5G Stadium to explore the unique environment, play games, and meet star athletes and pro gamers. It was the biggest virtual event we’ve done yet, and it showed us there’s so much more we can do.

Today, Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is available in 67 cities and 54 stadiums and arenas, and we plan to grow those numbers by the end of 2021. In fact, over the next 12 months, we expect to have incremental 5G bandwidth via new C-band spectrum available to 100 million people in 46 markets, delivering 5G on C-Band spectrum. As we continue to build the infrastructure that enables new thinking in gaming, we seek games that truly take advantage of 5G’s promise. There could be games with more dynamic AR layers unlike what we’ve seen; games that can handle 100,000 players in one area and thousands more in another nearby location.

The network that can meet the needs of tomorrow’s gamers is already here and rapidly expanding. Now it’s time to see an ecosystem built on 5G grow even faster. At Verizon, we’re eager to hear from game developers and other industry players ready to level up, so we encourage them to visit and explore what’s possible.

We look forward to seeing the ambition 5G inspires once mobile and cloud gaming developers have the freedom to create without limits. I can’t wait to put on my far-from-collectible shoes and venture out to explore the next gaming experience.

Ronan Dunne is EVP & CEO, Verizon Consumer Group.

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