The video game market is segmented into five segments: legacy PCs and consoles, evolving mobile devices – mostly phones but some tablets and the emerging cloud. It’s four, I’ll get to the fifth section in a minute.
Looking at these segments, Qualcomm is present mostly in the developed mobile devices. Plus, it has an interesting connection to the emerging cloud segment, as you can’t play games in the cloud unless you have a client device – at least not now. The preferred client device is a smartphone because it is almost always with you.
Now for the fifth segment: VR gaming, which is mostly surrounded by Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 which also uses Qualcomm technology.
Let’s talk about Qualcomm, gaming growth and the roadblocks that currently prevent the expansion from consoles and PCs to more mobile devices and the cloud — and video game trends.
Then we’ll close with our product of the week, which is arguably the best gaming smartphone on the market.
It is the oldest form of mass market video game. I say “broad market” because there were video games you could play on a mainframe, but only a small number of people knew how to play them and had access to a mainframe to do so. Console gaming has many enduring advantages, but there are also some significant disadvantages.
On the benefit side, the hardware is dedicated, and all patching and updates are handled by the console manufacturer as long as that version of the console is supported. If you use approved games (which are often downloaded today), you don’t have to worry about malware, and you can be almost certain that any existing title will run well on current consoles. Hardware costs are affordable—typically less than $500 to start—and you can use a good TV screen, so you don’t need an expensive monitor.
The downside is that the game console only plays games. Chances are it doesn’t belong to you unless you’re at home because it’s a bit of a pain to take it on vacation, and it’s a good luck playing games on a console in a car or plane while in transit. This is offset by consoles like the Nintendo Switch that allow for mobile gaming but are aimed at a younger audience.
So, consoles are great for gaming, but not the flexible or portable one most want for today’s games. But gaming on TV at home is good if you have room and no one else wants to use TV while gaming.
The PC gaming market really took off after Windows 95, as that operating system came with the game. This segment has a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages.
Benefits include being able to play and work at the same time, and PCs come in both desktop and laptop forms, allowing for both greater hardware diversity and greater mobility than most consoles. Games that use keyboards and mice work better with PCs, but you can often also use gaming controllers if needed. You can build a custom desktop PC that, in itself, is a status symbol for other gamers, and buy your way to a strong competitive edge.
The disadvantage of PCs is that gaming rigs tend to be expensive. You can easily drop over $5,000 in a top-notch desktop gaming rig. Gaming on a laptop can result in using a smaller display and reduce battery life. A gaming laptop can cost as much as a gaming desktop when fully equipped. While we carry our PCs with us more often than most consoles, we still can’t have them with us when we want to play games. They are large, which makes them difficult to use in a plane or car.
I find laptop gaming performance too restrictive on the size I want to use frequently. I play mostly on a custom gaming desktop rig with a large Dell 49-inch display.
This is where Qualcomm performs, and it is the fastest growing segment. Also it has advantages and disadvantages as well.
There are advantages with availability and flexibility. Like PC gaming, you can use a smartphone for more than just gaming, and you can multitask. The smartphone is always connected, which can lead to a better connected experience. People carry their smartphones with them so they can play anywhere and often where a PC or console isn’t viable, such as standing in a line. Titles are constantly improving over time, and the richness of mobile games can reach what you see on consoles or even some PC games.
The disadvantages are that smartphones are typically designed for connectivity, not gaming, and a non-gaming smartphone, even if it has Qualcomm’s latest and most powerful Snapdragon processor, will probably be very quick when used for gaming. Will start throttling because the phone cannot dump sufficient amount of heat being generated from it. Performance is usually traded against dynamics. The screen size is much smaller (but can be offset with a head-mounted display) and the smaller screen is also a control surface (but can become a dedicated controller with a head-mounted display).
Overall, smartphones are closing in on the usability and capabilities of PC and console games, but are still limited by the lack of head-mounted displays that force people to play on less capable displays than those typically used on phones. Qualcomm is leading this effort hard, funding gaming tournaments with decent rewards and toughening its flagship Snapdragon 8 and 8+ platforms to meet gamer needs.
This is highlighted by services like Nvidia’s GeForce Now which provides cloud instances of high-performance gaming PCs for remote gamers.
The advantage is that you get good PC-level performance with any device you can use as a client. These services favor games designed for PCs, but can be played on set top boxes such as Nvidia’s own Shield or on a smartphone based on the controller interface. These services offer the most flexibility in terms of hardware and the lowest cost of entry for top-tier games.
The disadvantage is that they are very network dependent, which means you probably can’t access the service on a plane or cruise ship where network bandwidth is low, and latency is very high. You have to pay a monthly fee; You do not own the Service, and the Service may not contain the game you want to play.
However, it is likely that cloud gaming represents the ultimate future of gaming. We do not yet have the network infrastructure to make it effective.
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While there is VR gaming on a PC, the need for a PC and the limitations of having a cable connected to it have limited the popularity of that approach. Right now, the most popular VR gaming platform is Meta’s Oculus Quest 2.
The advantage is that it is portable and does not require a tether. Games, especially those tied to movement, are fun and very playable. You can play it in the car or plane, and you can watch movies on it in private, just like you would on your PC or smartphone with a head-mounted display. Like game consoles, you have dedicated controllers and the cost is less than $400 to get started.
The disadvantage is that the expectations of VR gaming are ahead of the hardware. Resolutions are lower than people expected, and game content is limited. People are often mocked for using the technology, which creates resistance to adoption. There isn’t much in the way of Cloud Games anymore and Meta is experiencing a shaky $1 billion a month and if Meta fails, there’s no one in the wings to take on Slack.
There’s also AR gaming, highlighted by games like Pokémon Go, but it’s still very limited and the promise of this type of game, as highlighted by the old HP video Roku’s Reward, has never been achieved in production.
Console and PC gaming continues to thrive, but the real growth appears to be in mobile gaming, considering how fast it’s growing and how relatively convenient it is. However, this is constrained by the size of the mobile screen and the need for a gaming phone to truly experience robust mobile gaming. With head-mounted displays, mobile gaming has far greater potential, but these displays are not in widespread use yet which lessens their impact.
VR gaming has immense potential and I expect gaming’s long-term future to be in the virtual space, but we won’t be there for a decade or so because we still need better human-machine interfaces to meet consumer expectations. be able to reach Something like a holodeck.
As a result, gaming is in flux. Console and PC gaming are still viable markets, but mobile gaming is growing rapidly and has the potential to overtake both by the end of the decade. For now, Qualcomm is in a good position on both mobile and VR gaming, which puts it in a good position to help define the future of gaming.
We’ll see soon how it all goes.
Xiaomi’s Black Shark 5 Pro Gaming Smartphone
The best gaming smartphone in the market right now is the Black Shark 5 Pro.
It uses the latest Snapdragon 8 processor, has a massive 4550mAh battery with over 1,200 charge cycles, offers a 144Hz refresh rate, has liquid cooling and a 108MP triple camera system. Its starting price of $799 makes it a good value, though personally I’d pay $100 more and get the better equipped 12GB + 256GB model.
Black Shark 5 Series Gaming Smartphone / Image Credit: Black Shark
Another difference is that it has physical game triggers making it far quicker than screen-based triggers which is important for competitive first-person shooter (FPS) games. I’ve had a Xiaomi phone before and I’ve been impressed with the quality of the firm.
This phone comes in two colors white and black. I like the black version. But what makes this device stand out is the extreme cooling, mechanical triggers, top Qualcomm processor and bigger battery to prevent processor from throttling.
Other features include a 6.7-inch OLED display, HDR 10+, 5 million to 1 contrast ratio, and a dual zone pressure-sensitive display. The Black Shark 5 Pro is a beast of a gaming phone – and my product of the week.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.