SK Telecom Co., South Korea’s leading mobile carrier, and U.S. tech giant Microsoft Corp. have joined forces to launch a cloud-based game streaming service running on 5G network. Based on the partnership, SK Telecom can secure 5G-based killer services and Microsoft can secure the leadership in the game streaming sector.
Microsoft seems to believe that South Korea is the best place to test its new type of gaming service as the country has stable network infrastructure, a 5G network, a strong gaming industry and a large gaming community. South Korea is the fourth-largest gaming market in the world. Furthermore, mobile gaming is very popular in Korea, which should help Microsoft’s cloud-based gaming platform, dubbed Project xCloud, take roots early. SK Telecom, the largest 5G network operator in South Korea, also considers mobile games as the killer service to drive demand for 5G services.
A cloud-based game streaming service is regarded as a “game changer” in the gaming industry. It is expected to cange the landscape of not only the South Korean gaming market where mobile and online games enjoy popularity but also the gaming market in advanced countries where console games are popular. The global cloud-based gaming market is expected to soar from US$387 million (470 billion won) in 2018 to US$2.5 billion (3.04 trillion won) in 2023, according to a report released by global market tracker IHS Markit at the end of April.
Since the cloud-based game streaming service needs to respond to operation of a considerable number of users in real time, going beyond the level of simply providing contents, unlike music and video clips, it is important to have super-fast speed and ultra-low latency as well as high server capacity. Accordingly, the two companies are planning to maximize the synergy effect by making use of SK Telecom’s 5G networks with super-fast speed and ultra-low latency and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Microsoft will utilize 54 Azure legions in the world, including domestic ones, to provide mobile gaming services.
Project xCloud will be accessible on smartphones by connecting wireless controllers in the initial stage. Consumers can download the xCloud app on their smartphones and choose any game they want. The new service will be exclusively offered to users of SK Telecom in the initial stage but will be expanded to other mobile carriers in phases.