Mobile carriers here have been rushing to clinch partnerships with global IT giants to make inroads into the cloud gaming service market as games are cited as "killer content" for a growing number of fifth-generation (5G) smartphone users.
SK Telecom and LG Uplus have established partnerships with cloud-based gaming platform operators Microsoft and Nvidia, respectively, agreeing to test-run the new services, while KT is contacting various companies to look for a partner.
|Models promote Microsoft's Project xCloud, a cloud-based gaming platform that will be launched here on a trial basis in October in conjunction with SK Telecom. / Courtesy SK Telecom|
Cloud gaming services enable users to play hundreds of games through 5G-enabled smartphones without download.
Once the services are officially launched, mobile carriers will collect monthly charges from users, and do not need to sign separate contracts with game companies, as their partnerships with cloud gaming platform operators, which have hosted a variety of high-quality titles, will allow them to offer those services.
"Ultra-low latency 5G networks will create a great synergy effect when combined with the cloud technologies of global tech giants," an official from one of the mobile carriers said.
According to data compiled in April by market tracker IHS Markit, the scale of the cloud game market will grow to $2.5 billion in 2023 from $387 million last year.
On Sept. 4, LG Uplus began offering a free trial of Nvidia's GeForce NOW cloud gaming platform for users of its 5G plans.
|A model promotes Nvidia's GeForce NOW cloud gaming service, which LG Uplus will launch on its 5G networks. / Courtesy of LG Uplus|
During the free trial period that will last until Oct. 31, customers of LG Uplus' 5G Premium phone plan or higher ones can try out the service in advance by downloading the GeForce NOW app.
"Once users begin playing a game, they will be able to realize the beginning of a new era," said Sohn Min-seon who is in charge of new 5G services at LG Uplus.
Nvidia, a U.S.-based graphics processing unit (GPU) manufacturer, has been offering a beta program of the GeForce NOW service for free in North America and Europe. While it has not been officially released, it has garnered about 300,000 users and more than 1 million are waiting to be accepted into the program.
SK Telecom has agreed with U.S. IT giant Microsoft to launch the pilot run of the latter's cloud gaming platform, dubbed Project xCloud, in Korea next month.
xCloud will allow users to play games from Microsoft's popular video game console, the Xbox, through a smartphone application.
"Cooperation between Microsoft and SK Telecom will create new value," said Yoo Young-sang, head of SK Telecom's mobile network operator business. "We will offer next-generation mobile game experiences to users."
KT reportedly carried out negotiations with Nintendo, but the talks have come to a halt for various reasons.
Commenting on the company's plans for cloud gaming services, a KT official said, "We are in talks with various companies for a potential partnership."