It’s no secret the gaming industry is big business. Fuelled by a staggering 2.7 billion gamers worldwide (210 million in North America alone) the gaming market generated $139 billion in revenue in 2020, and that number is predicted to climb to well over $200 billion by the end of 2023.

As large as the gaming market is, however, there’s still a tendency to think of gaming as a niche interest—something that takes a backseat to other home entertainment options. Internet providers and integrators who hold this view should do so at their own peril. The gaming market has shifted to a heavy dependence on high-speed, low-latency connections and the demand is only intensifying.

The next generation of gaming is here and it isn’t just making a huge impact on games and gaming hardware. It’s also a prime opportunity for internet providers to pitch the value of FTTP and structured wiring solutions such as the latest media enclosures.

The Next Generation of Gaming is Connected

Online gaming is hardly new but in recent years the bandwidth demands of online video streaming have been taken to new heights.

Most recently, the launch of Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X consoles has placed new emphasis on extreme high-speed gaming. Each new console supports 4K resolution gaming at up to 120 frames-per-second, which dramatically improves the game’s response and visual smoothness and  but requires a low-latency HDMI 2.1 connection and compatible internet connection to achieve the best results during online gaming sessions.

Both new consoles are also available in diskless versions, which require gamers to fully download any game they want to play. So, with some games topping 100GB in size, a high-speed connection is critical.

The gaming market has shifted to a heavy dependence on high-speed, low-latency connections and the demand is only intensifying. Click To Tweet

We’ve also seen a rise in cloud gaming services, such as Google’s Stadia platform. Cloud gaming is particularly bandwidth intensive, as it transmits all data over the internet, including the raw video processing that’s normally done with an internal graphics card in a home computer or console.

Video game streaming, which lets people watch other gamers play games in real-time, is also more popular than ever. In 2020, the number of viewers on Twitch alone surpassed 100 million. As with cloud gaming, live streaming while you play requires significant bandwidth to ensure the bitrate on your livestream stays consistent.

High Speed and Low Latency Required

Surprisingly, the recommended minimum internet connections for online gaming are extremely low. Microsoft, for example, recommends a minimum download speed of 3Mbps and a minimum upload speed of 0.5Mbps. Sony recommends similar speeds for its consoles. But meeting these minimum requirements will only result in laggy and inconsistent gaming sessions.

In reality, today’s online gamers need download speeds of 25-100Mbps for online gaming, as well as very low latency. Low latency, in fact, is vital for online gaming. When latency is on the high side the result is lag—you press a button and there’s a slight delay in the on-screen result. For most online gamers (even casual ones) this is a deal breaker.

Gaming and the Smart Home

When it comes to getting the most out of a new gaming console like the PlayStation 5, a hardwired fiber optic internet connection is a gamer’s best friend and can be added with fiber transition outlets. Not only does fiber deliver high download speeds and high upload speeds, it also delivers the lowest latency possible, around 11-14 ms—far lower than cable (15-35 ms) or DSL (25-43 ms).

Meeting the bandwidth and latency demands of gamers should be part of the standard smart home offerings that providers now offer by default. This should include structured wiring solutions, with wired ethernet ports installed throughout the home so gamers can connect consoles and other gear directly to their network.

For FTTP providers and integrators this doesn’t just represent an opportunity to educate or upsell. It also represents an essential pressing need. Gamers are in no short supply and they require the type of internet connection that only fiber can provide.