Sectors like gaming are front runners in adopting technology and are setting the standard for communications in the virtual, futuristic world, said Ranga Jagannath, Director-Growth, Agora, a video, voice and live interactive streaming platform. Edited excerpts:
Q1. What is RTE, and how is it empowering the online gaming space?
Ans- Real-Time Engagement (RTE) allows individuals to interact in any app, anytime and anywhere. Agora is the first RTE PaaS that contextualizes the full spectrum of human interactivity. This contextualisation is embedded into any application on any device and hardware.
Amidst the ongoing global pandemic, businesses realised the power of leveraging RTE to keep people socially connected while meeting their business needs. From live streaming to broadcasting to video chatting and beyond, RTE is helping businesses bring new services and communication capabilities to the masses in more unique ways.
Q2. How important has social gaming been in the past two years, and how have live video solutions helped?
Ans- More than 380 million people play games, and 200 million watch others play video games each month on Facebook. The statistics themselves show how much social gaming has evolved in the past two years. In a virtual world post-pandemic, consumers expect information and interaction at their fingertips, and live streaming brings it one step closer.
Live interactive streaming capabilities work well by integrating video chat, inviting live voice or video calls from fans, incorporating stats into the stream, and including virtual gifting opportunities for the audience.
Whether it is sharing the action of esports, hosting gaming leagues, or challenging players in trivia games, technology like real-time engagement provides excellent, consistent audio and video quality. On YouTube, 100 billion hours of gaming content was watched in 2020 — twice the number of 2018’s viewed hours, and Facebook’s daily watch times for broadcasts grew four times over the year. These numbers suggest that live streaming in the gaming space is going strong, with no signs of stopping.
Q3. How is 5G going to revolutionise online gaming?
Ans- Tech communities have been talking of the advent of 5G for some time. It will have a transformative impact on real-time communications and user engagement, especially in the case of gaming. 5G has become a necessity in this digital era to effectively upgrade the speed of networks, which would mean faster downloads, streaming speeds, enhanced conference calls, and enabling multiple devices to work simultaneously. It brings ultra-high quality, low latency video, augmented and mixed reality experiences.
5G will transform real-time audio and video experiences. Ultra HD experiences will become the norm across all RTE-enabled features to deliver immersive mobile experiences. Near-zero latency will pave the path for previously blocked use cases, including cloud game streaming, whereby game delivery platforms can offload most of the heavy computational work to datacentres running the latest hardware.
Similarly, 5G can facilitate innovative mobile gaming products with real-time online capabilities, which, when combined with technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), will transform gaming experiences.
Q4. Can you explain the impact of technologies such as AR/VR in creating a digital experience for gamers?
Ans- The global Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality market are expected to reach USD 571.42 billion by 2025 from USD 11.35 billion in 2017. The sector has been growing at a CAGR of 63.3 per cent from 2018 to 2025. India will play a significant role in immersive technologies, including metaverse.
It would not be wrong to say that AR and VR technologies offer the most exciting emerging technologies on the planet for today’s life. In recent years they have contributed immensely towards changing the dynamics of the gaming industry. AR and VR bring in immersive 3D, a captive experience, real-time interaction, and creative content unlike never before. The ability to merge digital information with real-time will be a game-changer for gaming companies. Real-time interaction will allow the enhancement of a gamer’s perception and boost the creation of better engaging levels.
Additionally, with AR facial masks and filtering, players are given the liberty to customize their physical appearance according to their role in the game or to match their mood. Coupled with live engagement and voice or video chat, players can see each other’s reactions, cheer each other on, and socialize while playing games and creating memories together. Video games and digital worlds have the power to simulate real-world environments and even exceed the limits of reality to improve lives in many ways. AR and VR stand out in the race for their ultimate experience and versatile and engaging content.
Q5. What are the major changes you witnessed in the gaming industry after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ans- With higher investments from international video game companies, global game studios are now keen on opening their offices in India, Ubisoft and Microsoft, for example, owing to the gaming industry’s boom in India. In 2009, India had only 15 studios dedicated to game development, and now it has over 15000 game developers and more than 275 development companies.
There has been widespread adoption of immersive technology, which overlays a digital layer of experience over our daily reality, thereby changing the way we interact in any setting. Current examples are VR-based games that create a whole new virtual world atop the real one. It would not be wrong to say that the gaming sector was one of the earliest adopters of immersive technology.
In 2019, Netflix’s CEO told shareholders that the biggest competition to Netflix was the video game Fortnite. People are increasingly opting to live it virtually through video games post the pandemic.
Q6. Any other future trends you anticipate in this vertical?
Ans- Sectors like gaming are front runners in adopting technology and are setting the standard for communications in the virtual, futuristic world. While we are moving into a new era where virtual and real worlds are symbiotic, the below trends will be the norm in gaming:
Interaction over content- The pandemic has outrightly proven that interactivity turns the scale against content. Simple games like Among Us that were accessible and easy for large demography became more popular due to the high level of interactivity and engagement they offered. Creating unique interactions will dominate over producing the highest quality of game design soon.
Advanced technology capabilities- Today’s advanced technology allows for capabilities like extremely low-latency 3-D spatial audio using proximity-based sensing to determine another player’s distance and position—just like you would in the real world. Similarly, the emergence of low power consumption designed to reduce mobile device battery drain without sacrificing quality for maximum high-quality game time has allowed for a better gaming experience.
Adaptive video resolution, with immediate initial video rendering and seamless channel switching to provide a reliable stream without delay, is another prerequisite against even the most challenging network conditions. Another essential aspect is enabling both local and server-side RTMP conversion for both local and server-side RTMP conversion seamless integration with CDN services. Additionally, intuitive and advanced RTE technology helps turn a remote multiplayer game into a social platform, allowing for enhanced user experiences.
Connecting Metaverse– Presently, metaverse exists in isolation. However, this year, real-time engagement technology will enable connectivity between metaverses, creating an even more connected and engaging experience for users. RTE will also reduce entry barriers by simplifying access to the metaverse to something as ubiquitous as a web browser.