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KT races ahead in 5G streaming games

Telecom firm KT said Friday it will launch a subscription-based 5G cloud gaming service in South Korea starting March, exclusive for its 5G users.

The first 10,000 KT users to download the game streaming app will be given a two-month free trial period to play some 50 games on the app. A thumb-sized detachable mini joystick developed by Motion Queen, will be given out to them for free, allowing for an immersive gaming experience without requiring a Bluetooth connection, KT said.

The company is the third of three Korean communications firms to announce the 5G cloud game business. Before KT, LG Uplus joined hands with Nvidia and SK Telecom with Microsoft, to stream the latter’s’ games on mobile devices.


KT launches 5G cloud game streaming service (Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)
KT launches 5G cloud game streaming service (Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)


LG Uplus provides the games on subscription terms. The service is currently in tests and is projected to fully launch in January.

SKT is testing four streaming games for a limited number of players, and has yet to announce a specific launch date in Korea or a payment structure.

Subscription-based streaming service has been popular for music in the 3G network and video for 4G. It’s evident the next streaming entertainment contents for the 5G network will be gaming, said KT officials at the service launch announcement event.

“To download and play 50 games on One Store, one needs 240 gigabytes of memory on a mobile device. By introducing a streaming app, we have drastically cut that down to 30 megabytes,” said Park Hyun-jin, senior vice president of KT’s 5G business unit.

“Cost-wise, these 50 game titles were a combined 950,000 won ($816), but our streaming app will only charge a designated monthly subscription fee,” Park said.

The game market is reaching its limits, said Park, stressing that the subscription-based streaming is the future.

The monthly fee is yet to be decided, and KT is open to user suggestions.


Sung Eun-mi, vice president of K’s 5G service department, explains the cutting-edge computing technology. (Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)
Sung Eun-mi, vice president of K’s 5G service department, explains the cutting-edge computing technology. (Lim Jeong-yeo/The Korea Herald)


“KT will employ cutting-edge computing technology to provide super low-latency network service,” said Sung Eun-mi, vice president of KT’s 5G service department.

The technology creates network hubs in different regions, as it doesn’t have to reroute from the capital Seoul. Users living in the provincial areas can experience faster connections. The service will start in Korea’s second biggest city Busan and later spread to other regions according to the spread of game streaming app use, Sung said.

For the game streaming service, KT has partnered with Taiwans’ streaming solution company Ubitus.

Ubitus is the largest cloud provider in Japan, and has NIT Docomo as a partner, said Ubitus’ CEO Wesley Kuo at the KT event.

In March 2018, Ubitus serviced streaming games to Nintendo Switch and in October, for Vodafone Italy. It also has a strategic partnership with Alibaba to launch a global cloud gaming total solution.

In Korea, Ubitus has Samsung as its strategic investor. YouTube co-founder Steve Chen is also an investor and a special advisor.

In the long run, some 100 games will be available on the platform, including Deepsilver’s first-person shooter game Metro 2033 Redux, SNK’s combat game King of Fighters XIII and Volition’s Saints Row IV.

KT plans to gradually expand its game subscription service to television and personal computers.

Global market analysis firm IHS Markit estimated the cloud gaming market will grow sixfold from 2018’s $387 million to 2023’s $2.5 billion.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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