As game developers, content creators and gamers from across the globe anticipate the arrival of the new gaming platform Google STADIA, SIRO’s Chief Technology Officer, Suzanne Tracy, provides insight into the evolving Video Games Industry and SIRO’s role in supporting the games development sector in Ireland.
It’s an exciting time for the Games industry. According to NewZoo insights over 2bn people play video games worldwide and 2m of those are in Ireland. Gaming is evolving towards a predominantly online platform and new trends such as e-sports and Twitch streaming have shifted how developers design their games. Today, Google launches STADIA, a cloud-based streaming platform that has been dubbed as the “future of online gaming”. For the uninitiated, Google STADIA essentially allows its players to stream their game from any device using Google’s data centres, hardware and cloud technology rather than download game files.
There has been much discourse over the network capabilities required for the best gameplay possible. Google say that the speed required for STADIA is 35 Mega Bits Per Second (mbps) however other performance factors such as latency (or “ping”) which measures the response time (in milliseconds) for an internet connection, is the determining factor for a completely seamless experience. In a recent survey conducted by UK Broadband provider, CityFibre, more than four fifths (85%) thought that their gaming performance would improve if they had access to a 100 per cent fibre, ultra-low latency connection. Generally, anything below 20 milliseconds (ms) is considered fantastic. With SIRO’s 100% fibre to the home (FTTH) network, we aim to offer a ping rate of less than 10ms on average, allowing users to play at their best without delay.
SIRO’s Role in E-Sports
Globally, the Games industry is estimated to be worth more than $150bn annually, more than the film, music and television industry combined. Much of the recent increase in revenue can be attributed to the rise in popularity of online gaming and e-sports, driven in part by better internet connectivity across the globe. 2019 is set to be the first year where the global e-sports industry tops $1bn in revenue. At €216m per annum, Ireland currently ranks 43rd globally in revenue for gaming (an increase of 20% or €36m since 2018). We also rank 53rd in e-sports league tables and according to PwC Ireland, along with gaming, the combined market is set to grow by a further 27% by 2023.
It is estimated that e-sports has a global audience of 600 million people with 470,000 regular Irish viewers and players, according to the Irish Independent. Broadband provider Pure Telecom reported that 22% of adults “watch or participate in e-sports” with 36% of Irish adults relying on a connection to play their game. Some commentators, such as iKydz estimate that 40% of internet usage in Ireland is exclusively online gaming.
The rise in popularity of e-sports is coupled with the success of streaming platforms like Twitch which allows its users to share a live feed of their gameplay to fans across the globe. Twitch was initially created in 2011 but has grown rapidly since Amazon acquired it for $1bn in 2014. In 2018, it was estimated that over 1.3bn hours of Fortnite were watched alone. E-sports tournaments such as the League of Legends 2019 championship have racked up over 1.7m peak viewers on for a single event.
With this in mind, the popularity of e-sports in Ireland cannot be understated. Recently, Ireland played host to Insomnia Gaming Festival, an e-sports and gaming event that has been running in the UK for over 20 years and has reached destinations as far as Dubai. Thousands of e-sports enthusiasts flocked to Dublin to support their favourite teams, meet notable industry celebrities and experience the latest in online gaming.
Most online games require a minimum connection of 10-25mbps to take part however for serious and professional players, the bare minimum connection doesn’t suffice and other considerations such as latency are just as important. It’s been reported that gamers are twice as likely to quit a game when they experience a network delay of an additional 0.5 milliseconds. At SIRO, we provide the gold standard in connectivity with speeds of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) which is 1,000 Mbps, with very low latency and jitter (the fluctuation of latency over time) to over 45 regional towns across Ireland. Whether your connection is required for professional or amateur use, SIRO guarantees a reliable, seamless gaming experience that will allow you to hone your skills.
Gaming and the Audio Visual Sector in Ireland
As well as catering towards the online gaming community, fibre to the building (FTTB) broadband can support the game development community in Ireland. Game development is a vital part of the broader Audio Visual sector in Ireland which consists of film, TV and animation, commercials, video games and radio. According to the 2018 Olsberg report, there are circa 17,000 jobs in the sector which have a Gross Value Added of over €1bn.
Ireland is home to international gaming giants such as Activision Blizzard, EA and Microsoft and while the presence of their games development hubs strategically positions Ireland in the European Games Industry, local independent game developers say they need policy and infrastructural support to compete internationally.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Audio Visual Action Plan 2018 sets out the Governments objectives to boost investment in Ireland’s broader AV sector including emphasis on the significance of investment in the Video Games industry in Ireland to boost its competitiveness in the global market. The report has been welcomed by “IMIRT”, the industry organisation that supports games developments in Ireland but cites a number of concerns and challenges, beyond investment, in realising the potential of the industry.
IMIRT Chairperson, Brenda Romero recommended that “co-working space[s] where developers with different areas of expertise could work together would elevate skill levels, offer space for community events and provide a common destination for potential partners to meet with Irish game developers.”
In addition, gaming developers need access to very high capacity network (“VHCN”), i.e. fibre, in office spaces is essential as more and more, gaming evolves towards a predominantly online platform. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index Internet gaming traffic is set to be 4 percent of global IP traffic by 2022, an increase of 1 percent in 2017. For cloud-based gaming such as STADIA to be possible, VHCN and an interconnected ICT infrastructure are required to handle the high bandwidth use from the server to the business
SIRO Supporting Gaming
SIRO provides 100% Fibre to the building (FTTB) broadband, enabling businesses who are developing games and gamers themselves experience an uncongested 1 Gigabit (1,000mbps) internet connection, always on and with very low latency and jitter. Currently, SIRO’s 100% fibre network is available to 45 towns and 285,000 homes and businesses nationwide.
In addition, SIRO and Vodafone, recognising a need for co-working digital hubs in regional Ireland launched a “Gigabit Hub Programme” where qualifying digital hubs and co-working spaces are supported with Gigabit broadband. These Gigabit Hubs (of which there are now 15 nationwide) provide the space and the connectivity required by independent games developers. Whether it’s uploading data-heavy raw files or large game projects, a SIRO FTTB connection is the gold standard in connectivity for the gaming sector and means that independent games developers need not travel to Dublin to find that connectivity and space. This means the next independent Irish games company could come from Carlow or Cavan.
Find out more about the role of SIRO Gigabit broadband in optimising online gaming.