Can 5G Revolution in the Indian Gaming Industry Spur Innovation?

11 min readJul 13, 2021


The Advent of 5G is not inception anymore!

After years of hushed conversations, challenges, and buzz around the internet, 5G is finally set for showtime. Many technologists, industrialists, and business owners have their say on its disruption across industries, but the advent of the Gaming sector in the last couple of years hinting that it can be one of the few industries to leverage the maximum benefits of 5G and revolutionize the gaming industry in India. There are a few potential catches and impacts fueling this prediction. Our experts at Affine Gaming CoE gathered the crucial details in the form of numbers and statistics to comprehend the 5 G’s role in revolutionizing the gaming industry.

What is 5G? And how it can revolutionize the Indian gaming industry?

5G is the fifth-generation wireless network technology standard for broadband cellular networks that service providers began deploying worldwide in 2018. It is capable of delivering higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, greater reliability, extensive network capacity, improved availability, and features to cater to next-generation user experiences, new deployment patterns, and enhanced service delivery.

“5G is ten times faster than the current 4G LTE technology and would eventually scale up to be 100 times faster.” — GSMA

In contrast to Cloud gaming, Virtual Reality (VR) could also play a vital role in reducing customer investments in hardware while minimizing the entry barrier to leverage VR gaming. Besides, Augmented Reality (AR) is no different in this context to take gaming experience beyond visual proposition. These advanced technologies carry data-intensive properties which can be sufficed by converging Artificial Intelligence (AI) with 5G. This way, gaming can enable immersive experiences and multiplayer modes. To make it sound more relatable in the real-world scenario, for instance, envisage, game players; start using a sense of touch and smell through binaural audio, tactile experiences through vibrations in the gameplay scenario. Yes, we are near to live this futuristic gaming world with the advent of 5G coming to life and revolutionize the Indian gaming industry.

5G in Gaming: Spur Innovation & Growth

The connectivity, software, hardware, and service areas of gaming where you would see 5G is setting a new expectation with enormous potential to help the gaming industry grow at a phenomenal rate. The below graphical view shows the drill-down of these areas in percentages.

Forecast market Revenue Share worldwide segmented by Industry

The gaming industry is projected to drive 236 billion U.S. dollars in annual revenue into the global 5G edge computing ecosystem in 2023, with software having the largest share at 48 percent.

Driving use cases for 5G Edge Computing Adoption in Future Technologies

The following stats show that Cloud Gaming, AR/VR, blockchain is in the top 5 driving use cases for 5G.

Biggest Consumer Opportunities in terms of Revenue

According to a study conducted by Ericsson, the Telecom operator see a 30 % growth opportunity from Immersive Media dedicated to innovations where they can generate 131 billion in direct revenue from 5G Consumer use cases. The key areas of opportunities are in the following areas, Enhanced video, Live sports streaming, Music and gaming (Mobile, Cloud, AR & VR).

Investment in Gaming on the rise

Games have always been a big part of the telecom operator’s revenue; Value Added Subscription is a mere example in this context. With the advent of 5G in India, it is no surprise that India’s leading network operators Reliance Jio; and Airtel are expected to boost the 5G adoption rate in India. Their association with Gaming companies last year was a convincing move in this regard.

Reliance Jio

The telecom network giant believes that the Gaming industry in India will be bigger than the music, movies, and television industries.

· As of December 2020, Jio has invested in Krikey (a San Francisco-based Augmented Reality (AR) gaming start-up) and has made its debut in India with its new AR action-adventure game called Yaatra. Jio with the 5G infrastructure; realizes the potential of the growth of AR/ VR in India

· Jio also has partnered with Microsoft in March 2020 to bring project xcloud gaming platform to India, foraying into the cloud gaming category

· While Jio already has a focus on the casual games with their JioGames, along with Bangalore based Mobile premier League, partnered with MediaTek to launch an esports event, “Gaming Master” making a foray into the Esports Industry

Jio as a key player facilitating the 5G Implementation in India: Jio will be a forerunner in the 5G’s race, focused on launching the 5G services in the mid of 2021. The network will be powered by indigenously developed hardware and technology components. Jio claims the existing converged network infrastructure will facilitate easy upgrades from 4G to 5G.

Bharati Airtel

Airtel is one of the top two major players in the 5G market in India, conferring promising growth in the Indian gaming industry. Currently, the well-known network service provider is focusing more on the eSports category.

· Airtel is the first operator to kick start the revolution of sports in India by partnering with NODWIN gaming; an independent subsidiary of mobile gaming company Nazara Technologies

· Conceptualized the ‘Airtel India ESPORTS TOUR’ India’s first national ranking of esports players in the country

· The Airtel India eSports tour at its inception will cover all NODWIN tournaments across gaming titles of PUBG Mobile, CS: GO, Clash of Clans, and FIFA among others

Airtel as a key player facilitating the 5G Implementation in India: Airtel claims that its 5G network can deliver 10x speeds, 10x latency, and 100x concurrency, when compared to existing technologies. The network managed to hit peak speeds of 3Gbps. Airtel is expecting to launch in 2022 and requires more time for a massive rollout.

Vodafone Idea

Vodafone Idea is in the race to stay relevant to its counterparts. VI in the highly competitive telecom market, leaving no chance to raise its standards to deliver premium gaming content on an interactive platform.

Vodafone Idea as a key player facilitating the 5G Implementation in India: Vi plans to launch the 5G network as soon as the government auction spectrum is done and made available. The company has upgraded its 4G network with 5G architecture and other technologies like dynamic spectrum re-farming (DSR) and MIMO. The network provider has also proposed 5G trials with multiple vendors, including Huawei and Ericsson.

5G Impact in the Indian Gaming Industry

· 5G Impact on AR and VR: 5G will take away the location restrictions in cloud gaming. The AR/VR will evolve with 5G making way for cloud gaming. Thereby minimizing the need for a console. This transformation would disrupt the immersive experience of AR and VR gaming. The improved speeds and reduced latency will work seamlessly with the whole immersive gaming experience.

· 5G Impact on Cloud Gaming: VMware a US-based cloud and virtualization software company, committed over $2billion to India in 2019. This is just one of the few companies that have started developing cloud infrastructure. The growth of 5G and cloud technology empowering the cloud gaming industry and facilitate Gaming companies and publishers to focus on cloud gaming.

· 5G Impact on Gaming Studios and Gaming Publishers: There would be a marked impact on how the games are made and played. With the high bandwidth and low latency, there will be an overall improvement of the game experience as the developers will get more flexibility to improve game quality. As the trade-off between design and cutbacks are expected to optimize latency issues, developers can focus on providing a high-quality immersive experience like faster download speed and smoother gaming experience. Also, 5G will accelerate the growth of Cloud as well as AR/VR Gaming, which will, in turn, lead to more game studios developing futuristic games.

· 5G Impact on the Indian Gamers: Apart from the world-class gaming experience, in terms of speed, low latency, improved design, the influx and growth of Esports and game streaming will rise enormously, giving rise to more gamers, who would look at alternative career opportunities. With more download speeds it would be interesting to see if the average gamer would download and play more games given the broad bandwidth. But it’s interesting to see how the costing and pricing at the operator’s end would affect Indian gamer behavior. As Indians are price sensitive and prefer to derive maximum value, the pricing will play a crucial part to shape the Indian industry gaming industry growth.

The scope for gaming advancement in India seems promising with the implementation of 5G, but there are many challenges that need to be addressed and solved. Prior to that, we should find an answer for –

When there is an unprecedented delay in the spectrum allocation; and complexity in demographics use cases, how much time India would need to start full-fledged 5G services across the nation?

“The Scope and growth seem enormous with the implementation of 5G, but there are many challenges still need to be overcome.”

Challenges of 5G Implementation in India

· Complexity in spectrum auction: The current auction does not include the super-efficient mmWave bands, such as 26/28 GHz, that are essential for 5G implementation; without which the cost to consumers might drive up.

· The pace of users migrating from 4G to 5G: India has a diverse customer base where a big chunk of the users is slower in adopting newer spectrums. For instance, 4G services were deployed in India seven years after their global launch in 2008 and the adoption rate of service in the first couple of years was not convincing. Thus, chances that 4G to 5G migration could result similarly if 5G services fail to outplay current 4G service offerings and facilities.

· Regulatory Complexity and Security Concerns: With the sheer volume of high-speed data coupled with the enormous number of devices, security is a major concern that is causing more delays in the implementation of 5G across the nation.

· High cost of infrastructure: The cost of infrastructure to enable the 5G networks is expensive across various fronts like use case research, 5G Edge technology, and 5G enabled devices, etc. According to an analysis done by UBS, at least $30.5 billion is required to roll out the 5G Network in the country and coupled with cash flow crunches for certain operators this could delay the implementation.

Will India adopt 5G in time to ride the lucrative Gaming wave?

The Indian mobile users are already gearing up for 5G!

A closer look at the buyer behaviour of the Indian customers shows that users are making informed decisions keeping in mind the future 5G technology implementation. According to the following research conducted amongst respondents between 18–35 years, 82% consider the 5G technology as the third most factor for smartphone purchase in India. Also, Airtel claims that it already has more than 1 million 5G-enabled devices on its network. Thus, the demographic detail and the customer interest level mentioned here are giving a clear sign that the adoption rate of 5G will only grow and in turn to create a broader path to ride a lucrative gaming wave in India.

If the signs of 5G adoption in India is convincing, where does it stands on a practical ground when compared with growth of 5G around the world?

Growth of 5G

The 5G technology will be taking the world by storm with an exponential growth rate. Even though the 5G technology is still in its nascent stage all over the world, there has been already remarkable progress on facilitating and integrating this technology. However, it’s a slow-burn process and takes time to unlock the complete potential of the 5G technology across the nation.

According to Statista, the following statistics help us understand the growth trajectory of the 5G technology across the world.

Forecast of 5G Mobile Subscription Worldwide

There are already 236 million 5G subscriptions worldwide, which is growing consistently year-on-year and expected to reach a billion subscribers by the end of 2025. This projection shows the technology has already started to make headway into the Telecommunication Sector.

Region-wise split of 5G Mobile Subscription

The forecast of the number of subscriptions in millions has been given below. By 2026 North-East Asia will be leading in terms of no of 5G subscriptions. The number of 5G mobile subscriptions worldwide is forecast to exceed 2.7 billion by 2025.

The annual net contribution of 5G to global growth from the year 2020 to 2035

The forecasted annual contribution to the economy of global growth is overwhelming. The 2020 net amounted to 127 billion of 2016 U.S. dollars and is estimated to reach 210 Billion USD. This trajectory clearly shows the scale and growth which the 5G technology can achieve.

The Expected Adoption Rate of 5G Technology

The following graph clearly shows the expected adoption rate of 5G networks as a share of total connections worldwide. The split is based on the regions. By 2025, 5G connections will account for around half of total mobile connections in ‘Developing Asia’. The region also shows potential growth of around 22%.

In Conclusion

5G with its sheer power to support 1 million connected devices within a range of a single square kilometer; can attract a larger audience towards gaming. While the whole world is excited about 5G coming to life, India is no different in this regard. Gaming being favourite to be the first adopter; likely to provide a platform-agnostic future with the essence of Cloud gaming, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies. Indian customer base is near to experience 5G driven gaming experience; we at Alterlife — Gaming Centre of Excellence will keep the tabs open to Build. Analyse. Play. Repeat to provide you the most recent trends in gaming.

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