The first-generation VR entertainment center players usually play in the local venue and put on a custom headset connected to a backpack via a wire, weighing about 4 kg. They complain about low flexibility and hope more people will play together at all times, not even at the same center.
Is 5G a tool to improve user engagement and satisfaction?
Players can roam freely with just a VR headset and interact with remote players in other locations using a 5G network. The backpack used to include hardware to render the VR graphic. With the high bandwidth and low latency of 5G, Cloud Rendering could replace the backpack, so gamers only need to wear a headset to play VR games. 5G is also helping to deploy such VR entertainment centers in otherwise difficult locations, such as shopping malls, due to the fact that Wi-Fi is subject to much worse interference as it uses unlicensed spectrum. 5G not only provides better anti-interference performance, but also keeps every user’s experience with dedicated assurance.
This year, Sky Limit Entertainment (SLE) carried out the world’s first large space VR fighting games at Sky Limit Entertainment’s VR centers via a private 5G network in Beijing with China Mobile’s partner, ZTE and Intel.
SLE, one of the top three hi-tech entertainment providers in China, is dedicated to bringing 5G to the virtual reality industry, not only delivering an immersive experience, but exploring the metaverse business model with a virtual reality center as an entry into the first arrange. SLE’s VR center called SoReal Super Experience Space explores in-person multi-user games as a top seller. SoReal Center players can move causally in a large space, such as 7m x 14m, connect to the same virtual space, and interact in real time even in different centers. SLE has opened 23 centers and plans to roll out 50 in 30 cities across China by the end of 2022, 400 centers in 2023, and 1,000 centers in 2024. Bringing the most advanced on-site VR experiences to such a large scale is indeed what 5G is supposed to help achieve, enabling more entertainment experiences like never before, such as cross-regional team competition, also creating values for VR content and service providers and mobile operators.
5G alone is not enough to meet all the challenges.
Virtual reality centers were growing rapidly before the pandemic. Now the industry is experiencing furloughs, layoffs and pivots. VR entertainment providers need to streamline their business model with improved investment efficiency and faster time to market. Virtual reality requires high resolution, high frame rate video streaming for an immersive experience that requires high performance hardware to support, including powerful CPUs and GPUs, which means high costs. To optimize the initial investment, SLE leases computing power from China Mobile running on Intel’s powerful chipset in 5G network nodes for Cloud Rendering. It is an innovation of an adaptive multi-layered architecture, which leverages computing power infrastructure by deploying on-demand either central VR cloud rendering or local cloud rendering in ZTE’s unique 5G base station. inserting only a computer card. Comprehensive consideration of service traffic demand, computing power resources, and network transmission latency contributes to optimal efficiency. Using the adaptive multi-layer architecture saved 30% of the initial investment cost.
Moreover, immersion, the most characteristic feature of virtual reality, makes the user experience more important than ever. Besides content quality of VR games, the main features affecting customer satisfaction are good image resolution, smooth streaming and comfortable headset. To provide gamers with a deterministic and high-quality experience, the ZTE 5G RAN intelligently identifies services, allocates dedicated XR wireless resources, and performs closed-loop experience assessment. With the end-to-end solution, the 5G network offers superior performance, a constant user speed of 80 Mbps and less than 20 ms of latency. Every gamer has a stable experience which is 4K high image resolution and stable frame rate at 60FPS (Frame per second).
The future of VR entertainment centers is even brighter.
The global location-based entertainment market size is expected to reach USD 30.29 billion by 2028, registering an estimated CAGR of 34.4% from 2021 to 2028. The introduction of virtual reality in the gaming industry added a new dimension by providing a simulated realm for players. looking forward to an immersive and realistic experience. In China, VR entertainment centers are an important industry with a market size reaching RMB 5.25 billion in 2021, accounting for 7% of VR.
There are many reasons why XR and 5G will make each other a big hit in the future. The massive scale of XR and metaverse data traffic demands will help drive 5G development, and 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth advantage will expand XR’s rich mobile applications to commercial scale. and will help XR become a reality everywhere. The prosperous development of XR services cannot be achieved without the joint efforts of all parties in the industry chain. We believe that all ecosystem vendors, from content to device, will do their part to solve the technical and business challenges to make our life better with XR.