The gaming industry is preparing for a revolutionary change, the engine of which will be the smartphone. Mobile gadgets have already destroyed several major markets: for example, mp3 players and budget cameras (“cameras”). Whether threatens the same fate to traditional gaming, where since the 1980s the ball is ruled by game consoles and personal computers? Until recently, such a scenario seemed impossible, but now there was doubt.

On the one hand, the PC and the console continues to hold the position. To participate in the games as the characters often invite movie stars of world size, on the approach of the new generation of consoles PlayStation and Xbox, and the competition manufacturers of gaming hardware for PCs continues unabated. On the other hand, in 2018, mobile gaming is on annual revenue left their large-scale competitors far behind, and, according to forecasts, the momentum will only grow.

But in this war for the consumer we have already seen a third competitor, is able to outshine all the others — the emerging segment of “cloud” gaming. If this breakthrough is successful, the border between mobile phones, consoles and PCs will disappear. However, the current market the gaming industry is so huge and so rich, that to cover it in one review is impossible. Therefore, the “Profile” to isolate key trends to indicate what finish manufacturers in the near future.

Keanu Reeves and futuristic chair

Company NewZoo engaged in the analysis of the gaming industry, it is estimated that in 2018, total income owned by the PC segment was $32.9 billion Is it any wonder that developers of games can afford in the literal sense of Hollywood scale? For example, in the upcoming project, Cyberpunk 2077 of Polish Studio CD Projekt RED is one of the characters “played” (presented to the image, facial expressions, voice etc) Keanu Reeves. Death from Stranding, “the Japanese genius” (namely the so-called players from around the world) Hideo Kojima attended a constellation: Mads Mikkelsen, Lea seydoux and Guillermo Del Toro. Such examples are numerous.

The game industry feels more confident than ever before, time can afford spending on the actors of this scale for modeling characters. And therefore flourishing, and the attendant electronics manufacturers, providing demanding and capricious audience of gamers the latest technological advances.

In this sense 2019 turns out to be quite revealing. The mass market for the first time out of the processors made on a 7‑nanometer technology, their in June at the largest computer exhibition Computex‑2019 presented by AMD. This allowed her to almost double its presence in PC gaming compared to the previous year: of 15.96% vs of 8.71%, according to the largest gaming service Steam. The rest of 84,04% is Intel, who presented this year only 10‑nanometer chips — the less productive and energy efficient.

If the segment of Intel clearly dominates, its partner Nvidia (graphics card this company usually are paired with a Intel Core chips) for the first time in five years missed the AMD forward, according to Jon Peddie Research. The reason is simple: on the same Computex, the company unveiled a flagship graphics card, standing in two times less than the main competitor — Nvidia GeForce ($500 vs $1000 and above). Nvidia GeForce is not saved even support Ray Tracing technology, which mathematically calculates the rays of light and significantly transforms the look of games. And AMD was not ready for such a success after just two months of sales the company was faced with the fact that the demand for the most efficient model of the graphics card exceeds it’s release. And in 2020 (according to rumors in the summer) to battle the two giants will intervene the third giant: Intel’s plans for the first time since 2006 to return to the market of discrete graphics cards with new model Xe. And, being the absolute leader in the segment of processors, hurt both competitors in the first place by Nvidia, since AMD’s own closed ecosystem of chip — card.

The compact size of modern chips and cards and stimulate the market of gaming laptops. According to Statista, the global market volume for five years (2013 to 2018) grew from $0.95 billion to $12.1 billion Each major vendor produces such a device, and one of the leaders of the gaming industry, Razer at IFA-2019 (the exhibition was held in Berlin from 6 to 11 September) showed a computer that previously seemed impossible: a gaming ultrabook. Razer Blade Stealth 13 Graphics Edition weighs just 1.3 kg, very little for a device with a full graphics card (Nvidia GeForce MX150) and a battery of 53 W•h

Razer is one of the trendsetters in the market of gaming peripherals (gamepads, keyboards, mice, etc.). This segment, according to the Wise Guy Reports is booming along with the entire gaming industry, and its volume in 2018 just in the United States totaled $2.2 billion Razer it continues to be the undisputed world leader. This is the company to zero sets a high standard for the quality of these electronics. The technique should provide a minimum response time (up to 1-2 MS), high accuracy of motions, surround sound on headphones — in short, everything to achieve the best results in the field of eSports and online gaming. The company has determined the appearance of accessories: with the filing of Razer keyboard and mouse today for the most part are equipped with multiple-color illumination, and enclosure have a sophisticated, futuristic design. Non-functional, but it looks impressive and attracts attention is another important factor in eSports.

However, IFA‑2019 General attention riveted with Acer Predator gaming device Thronos Air for $14 thousand in fact it is not even electronics: no gaming PC, no accessories included, does not go. This is a station with a massage chair, which can be set at a comfortable angle, with holder for three monitors, and stands by all the necessary peripherals (including a coffee Cup). Given the growing scale of cybersociology and prize funds (the account is already in tens of millions of dollars), as well as growing the earnings of the streamers, it is obvious that such station will be in demand, even despite its size and weight (2.7 x 3.1 m, 180 kg), the more that Predator Thronos Air — the second generation of hi-tech chairs from Acer.

Manufacturers of gaming PCs and consoles continue the long war: first increase the performance and reduce the dimensions down to the size of the ultrabook, and the second to develop services and attract loud exclusives

Thierry Le Fouille / Sopa Images / Zuma / TASS

The ineffable lightness console

Gaming console — the eternal rival of the PC in the entertainment industry: players for decades to argue that it is better, and developers are constantly scratching their heads: whether to do an exclusive for one platform, or to delay the work and release the game on consoles and on PC. The volume of the console market in 2018, according to research NewZoo, amounted to $34.6 billion, slightly ahead of gaming PCs and laptops. Soon, however, the situation may change: in 2020, the players expect the coming of a new generation of absolute leaders of the market — the Sony PlayStation 5 and Xbox Project Scarlett.

It is the attachment to generations of devices in a fundamentally different console from PC. If the computer can “upgrade” at least every year with the release of new processors and graphics cards, consoles are not updated for years. For the early generations of the refresh cycle was about seven years old, but current models have an improved version in 2016 (PlayStation 4 Pro) and 2017 (Xbox One X) after 3-4 years after debut, that is, in the middle of the life cycle. Their appearance was caused primarily by the distribution of 4-To-TV and, therefore, high demands on graphics and game design.

Anyway, the current generation of consoles is living its last year. Almost all of the AAA-projects (premium development) under the PS4 and Xbox One was already released and upcoming potential hits, most likely, will be released in two versions — for existing devices and for “generation next”. For the most part large game developers have already received pre-sales samples of the new consoles and started working for them: so that the presentation of new products was accompanied by the announcement of a high-profile game titles, including exclusive ones.

“Exclusives” is another console feature. PC is not strictly tied to any of the games you buy on Steam, EA Origin, etc. But console gamers seriously depend on ecosystems: bought the game for PS4 to run it on Xbox or PC will not work, you will have to pay again for the same thing. But it also happens that the game is being developed only for one platform (for example, God of War — PlayStation under) or under the console, with no PC support (Red Dead Redemption).

Often it is the exclusives, and not advanced technical features force players to make a choice between console and PC, and between their producers. Here PS4 the undisputed leader, according to analysts, by the beginning of this year, Sony has sold over 92 million units against 41.5 million from Microsoft. By the way, both consoles provide much of a profit AMD: they have a chips and video cards of this company.

What attracts players if the hardware becomes outdated consoles compared to the PC after a year or two after release, and their ecosystem is so closed? Only one thing — availability. Primarily the cost: PS4 Pro debuted at $400, Xbox One $100 more expensive. But it’s cheaper only one flagship AMD (not to mention a full-fledged gaming stations cost $1500 and above). The secret is that the main profit of the company receive as a time for custom purchases in retail stores: the price of the games laid down a cent to Sony or Microsoft. Plus every designed for the console game obviously starts up again, the owner should not have to invest in buying a new CPU, graphics card or extra memory to play interesting AAA project.

A games console — originally ready to work the system. It is not necessary to assemble, install, configure. Even the monitor and peripherals not needed: TV opposite the sofa or chairs are in every home, and a gamepad (instead of keyboard and mouse on a PC) and even a simple headset are included. Of course, you can purchase another controller for steam games and professional headphones (will fit are the same as for PC), but in General, the accessory market for the console is much poorer than for gaming computers: he’s just nowhere to take, all necessary is initially.

If cloud technology will win their place under the sun, in the same game with the same comfort can be play on PC, smart TV or smartphone

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A controlling of the gaming industry

Unlike PC and consoles, smart phones have become a games platform recently. Of course, the game was still on the old “clopotnita”, but in industry these entertainments turned the massive spread of smartphones. The key role played by even greater accessibility than the consoles and especially PCs cell phone today almost everyone, he is constantly at hand, and get it up to games is simply simple enough to connect to the Internet and go to the app store.

As a result, according to analysts at NewZoo, in 2018 the number of gamers in the world exceeded $ 2.3 billion, of which 95% play on mobile phones (not necessarily just them). This provided smartphones and tablets in 2018, an annual turnover of USD 70.3 billion — 51% of the market. The data generally agree with analysts Forbes: it was about 45% of the market with turnover of $68.5 billion by 2019. And according Mediakix, the most popular mobile games (Candy Crush, Fortnite and Pokemon Go) bring developers $1.1 to 1.4 million daily.

This regular income is possible thanks to the “donations” — regular donations and in-app purchases with additional features (skills, equipment) or just disable the ads (which, in turn, also generates income from the regular shows). Formally, these games are free — for the installation do not have to pay. But the process was most interesting, comfortable and easy, you will have to pay extra, usually, on a trifle: $1-5 depending on the importance of in-game purchases. Such a system in the mid‑2010s has infected the “big” gaming. In 2017 it even led to a scandalous story related to the system of in-game purchases in Star Wars Battlefront II from EA. Players EN masse refusing to buy the game (she also paid) and harshly criticized the developer, with the result that the EA had to rethink the monetization model.

Because smartphones are much less powerful than PCs and consoles, mobile gaming is inferior to “adult” for specifications, chart and scale. But that did not stop in 2017 to receive such a segment as “gaming smartphone”, the trendsetter were made by the company Razer. She introduced the Razer Phone with the most productive at that time by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (same standing in the flagship 2017), 8GB of RAM, a display with a refresh rate of 120 Hz and battery on 4000 mA•h the Device has gained some popularity and got a second version in a year. At the same time a similar model, and began to produce other manufacturers.

So, Asus presented gaming system ROG Phone with a set of hardware extensions: a controller, a cooling station, additional display and a number of accessories worth about 150 thousand rubles. On IFA‑2019, the company introduced a successor, the main feature of which is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus. This model of chip is the first case in the mobile industry, when a manufacturer produces an improved version specifically for games. Compared to the usual Snapdragon 855 (which is installed in the current flagship 2019) it raises the clock frequency is optimized to work with graphics, AI, by means of augmented reality.

Gamepads, a special dock-station and other gaming paraphernalia represent such a small percentage of the market of mobile accessories that usually not even taken into account in the preparation of statistical samples. This is not surprising: games on smartphones and tablets is developed under the built-in touchscreen display, and every time enable/disable controllers or to set the smartphone into the dock extremely uncomfortable. Yes and this is done mostly at home (in other cases, the smartphone often is needed as a smartphone, not a portable console), where the gamer is likely to be a much more productive device or PC.

Expected high-tech cloud

Modern entertainment industry is gradually disappearing in the cloud and rebuilt on the model of subscriptions. Instead of paying, for example, for the film hard media (tape or disk), services like Netflix, or a Fire offering to pay a reasonable amount per month and no restrictions watch any movie, including new. Video games is no exception: this model is already working, Sony (PlayStation Now, in 2014), Nvidia (GeForce Now, from 2016), a number of less well-known companies (Vortex, Playkey, LoudPlay). This year they plan to join the two IT giants — Google and Apple Stadia project service Arcade.

In this service the user can play any games from any device — all the calculations happen in the cloud, that is, on powerful servers of the company. The player sends through the Internet team, and back him is a picture. In theory this should allow you to play the most demanding games on any device: a weak laptop, tablet, smartphone or even TV. Only need a fast and stable Internet connection, minimum 10 Mbps•sec. (Google says will take at least 30 Mbps•sec.).

Just here lies the main difficulty. If the Internet speed is not a problem (service providers in major cities have long provide more than 30 Mbps•sec. and even 4G LTE often transmit data with such speed), high response time (ping) spoils the whole picture. Professional gamers tend to reduce this figure to 1-2 MS on a PC with the best quality peripherals, while ping while streaming games can reach 100 MS or more. This automatically excludes a comfortable game in those titles, where a quick reaction (at least it’s shooters and racing).

Perhaps the problem will help solve the communication standards of new generation. For example, cell 5G standard assumes an average throughput of 8 Gbit•s. (8192 MB•sec.) and response time to 1 MS. In this scenario, play the “cloud” work on a smartphone in an open field — would be the tower. Standard Wi-Fi 6, in turn, suggests to 9.6 Gbps•sec. in a more proper distribution of signals than those of its predecessors, as well as contribute to fast signal transmission.

In other words, a reason Google and Apple announced their projects now, many years after Sony and Nvidia. Probably, only now the level of technology is able to provide gamers with a level, comfortable game on remote servers. If so, then in the foreseeable future it does not matter what kind of a platform developed game — PC, console or smartphones. Company streamer will offer a full directory and run games on their hardware, which gamers do not need to worry. It will start playing on your smartphone on the way home, continue on the couch in front of a huge TV, and finished before bed on the laptop. The console will be a lot of reactionaries, and gaming PCs and laptops — a niche tool for professional gamers where every millisecond counts.

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It will not please everyone

In 2017 the Japanese company Nintendo introduced the Switch console, which was designed to combine the portability and benefits of home game consoles (with the dock connected to the TV). This automatically puts the Switch in competition with smartphones. Because the company is one of the oldest and most respected vendors in the gaming industry (no joke: in 2019 she was 130 years), as well as the owner of several legendary franchises (Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda), the console won its place under the sun: in total, according to analysts ‘ estimates, has sold over 30 million devices.

But it seems that the Japanese did not manage to catch two birds with one stone. The console processor Nvidia Tegra X1 is built on mobile ARM architecture, greatly limiting performance. In addition, it installed a proprietary operating system, that is, the developers need to create separate versions of games specifically for the Switch, which requires time, effort and money. This combination is likely to lead to the fact that the console will not be able to continue the fight neither with traditional game consoles or mobile phones. As well as are unable to gain a foothold in the market with the PS3 and Xbox 360 previous large — scale development of the company- Nintendo Wii. But it is possible that the developer will release a new generation of Switch in the same form factor, but with a redesigned architecture, and more available for OS developers.

©Christopher Jue / EPA / Vostock Photo

Escape from reality

In the mid‑2010s, many manufacturers decided it was time to fantasy about virtual worlds in reality. Sony is once laid in the PlayStation 4 system support virtual reality (VR), although the sale of the equipment began only three years after the launch of the console in 2016. the Company Oculus and Samsung have implemented this technology on the PC and released in the same year. Samsung also went on a very bold step and released a VR glasses for its flagship smartphone the Galaxy series, and another in 2015. Thanks to the helmet with high-precision sensors and screens (or points with the productive smartphone in the Samsung case) the player gets in a three-dimensional virtual space. Interact with with head movements, and with the help of the controllers that usually come with a VR headset. At first, the technology is impressive, but not everyone can be the virtuality for a long time: some users crazy the vestibular apparatus, other eyes hurt, and almost all regularly faced with the real objects, which do not see.

However, according to Statista, the market is growing: if in 2018, its volume was $9.6 billion, in 2020 it is expected to grow to $22.9 billion Likely, not least thanks to Sony PS5, which can be represented by the update of the PlayStation VR.

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