Multi-access Edge Computing is redefining social gaming

Keeping players engaged during quarantine with edge computing-enabled social gaming.

With much of the world’s population facing stay-at-home orders or recommendations in the wake of Covid-19, many industries need to rethink how they deliver value to their customers.

One of the lesser-known casualties of the pandemic is social gaming, which uses augmented or virtual reality combined with real-world experiences, Pokémon Go being a popular example. But with real-world social interactions being off the table for the time being, there’s a rising demand for a more varied range of home entertainment options. Given how the pandemic has also put the breaks on the development of many movies and video games, this demand is likely to increase in the longer term as well.

Gaming on the go with edge computing

Edge computing combines the power and flexibility of cloud technologies while also tapping into the unique capabilities of local devices, such as smartphones and tablets. On one hand, most end-user devices lack the raw processing power to deliver high-quality user experiences, particularly in the case of resource-heavy applications like virtual and augmented reality. Yet mobile devices also have some unique characteristics by themselves, such as built-in cameras and geolocation. Put the two together, and end users have unprecedented opportunities when it comes to entertainment, productivity, and more.

The two most important variables in any connected gaming experience are bandwidth and latency. For example, a smooth VR streaming experience at standard definition demands a network bandwidth of 100 Mbps and a latency of 30ms. Until recently, it was near impossible to achieve these figures over mobile networks and cloud-hosted applications. Today, however, thanks to the rise of 5G technology and edge computing solutions, it’s finally a reality.

By tapping into the potential of edge computing, mobile operators can go beyond just offering data networks to delivering fully-fledged edge-computing platforms. This means demanding workloads, such as AR and VR gaming, can be handled in an off-site data center, which offers practically limitless compute power. An optimized solution offers an end-user experience with minimal latency to offer experiences so close to real-time that any lag is all but imperceptible.

Multi-access edge computing on 4G

Although MEC has a firm association with 5G, the two aren’t rigidly connected. You don’t need 5G architecture to enable MEC. MEC solutions can be deployed over existing 4G networks, particularly in the case of less demanding applications such as augmented reality gaming (as opposed to far more demanding virtual reality streaming). This is a big deal for mobile network operators, since it allows them to roll out revenue-generating services, such as social gaming, on their existing infrastructures. And, with the pandemic being in full swing, now’s a better time than any for bringing social gaming to those stuck at home under quarantine.

The long-term benefits are also substantial. Deploying MEC on existing 4G networks serves as a launching point for 5G. Once 5G becomes widespread, service providers will be able to deliver an even wider range of services through the MEC infrastructures they’ve already built.

What do you need to get started?

The key requirement for edge computing is virtualization; something which 5G also depends on. Virtualization allows network operators to set up virtual networks to deliver services which are 5G-ready, but not as dependent on the underlying technology. That way, you don’t need to wait for the rollout of 5G to start competing for modern social gaming and other high-bandwidth, high-latency services. Instead, you can be ahead of the curve and be ready to reap the full benefits of 5G as soon as it becomes widely available.

Saguna offers MEC solutions for mobile operators which allow them to open up new streams of revenue like social gaming. Call us today to find out more.


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