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VR entertainment center as the bridge to 5G metaverse

Players in the first-generation VR entertainment center are usually playing in the local place and put on a custom headset connected to a backpack through a wire, weighing around 4kg. They complain about the low flexibility and hope more people play together at any time, even don’t at the same Center.

Is 5G a tool to improve engagement and user satisfaction?
Players can move freely with only a VR headset and interact with remote players in other places using a 5G network. In the old days, the backpack comprises of hardware to render the VR graphic. With 5G’s broad bandwidth and low latency, Cloud Rendering could replace the backpack, so players only need to wear a headset to play VR games. 5G also helps roll out such VR entertainment centers at otherwise challenging places, 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 has better anti-interference performance but also keeps every user’s experience with dedicated insurance.

This year, Sky Limit Entertainment (SLE) completed the world’s first large-space VR battle games in Sky Limit Entertainment’s VR centers via a 5G private network in Beijing with the partner of China Mobile, ZTE and Intel.

SLE, one of the top-three high-tech entertainment providers in China, is dedicated to bringing 5G to the VR industry, not only offering an immersive experience but exploring the metaverse business model with a VR center as the entrance to it in the initial stage. The VR center of SLE called SoReal Super Experience Space explores multi-user in-person gaming as the top seller. The players in SoReal Center can move causally in a big space, such as 7m x 14m, connect to the same virtual space, and interacted in real-time, even in different centers. SLE has opened 23 centers and plans to deploy 50 in 30 cities in China by the end of 2022, 400 centers in 2023, and 1,000 centers in 2024. Bringing the most advanced on-premises VR experiences on 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 both VR content and service providers and mobile operators.

5G alone is not enough to tackle all the challenges.
VR centers were growing quickly before the pandemic. Now, the industry is seeing furloughs, layoffs, and pivots. VR entertainment providers need to streamline their business model with improved investment efficiency and quicker time-to-market. VR requires high-resolution, high-frame-rate video streaming for an immersive experience that needs high-performance hardware to support, including powerful CPUs and GPUs, meaning high costs. To optimize the initial investment, SLE rents China Mobile’s computing power running on Intel’s powerful chipset in 5G network nodes for Cloud Rendering. It is an innovation of an adaptive multi-layer architecture, which leverages the computing power infrastructure by on-demand deploying either central VR cloud rendering or local cloud rendering in ZTE’s unique 5G base station by only inserting a computing card. Comprehensive consideration of service traffic demand, computing power resources, and network transmission latency contributes to the highest efficiency. Using the adaptive multi-layer architecture saved the initial investment cost by 30%.

Moreover, immersion, the most characteristic feature of VR, makes user experience more important than ever. Besides the quality of VR game content, the top features affecting customers’ satisfaction are good image resolution, smooth streaming, and a comfortable headset. To provide players with a deterministic and high-quality experience, the ZTE 5G RAN intelligently identifies services, allocates XR-dedicated wireless resources, and performs close-loop experience evaluation. With the end-to-end solution, the 5G network has superior performance, consistent 80Mbps user speed, and less than 20ms of latency. Every player has a stable experience that is a high image resolution of 4K and a 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 anticipated to reach USD 30.29 billion by 2028, registering an estimated CAGR of 34.4% from 2021 to 2028. The introduction of VR in the gaming industry has added a new dimension by offering a simulated realm for gamers looking forward to an immersive and real-like experience. In China, VR entertainment centers are an important industry whose market size reaches RMB 5.25 billion in 2021, accounting for 7% of VR.

There are plenty of reasons why XR and 5G will make each other big success in the future. The massive scale of XR and metaverse data traffic demands will help drive 5G development, and 5G’s advantage of low latency and large bandwidth will expand rich mobile applications of XR commercial scale, and help XR become a reality everywhere. The prosperous development of XR services cannot be achieved without the joint efforts of all parts of the industry chain. We believe all the suppliers in the ecosystem, from content to terminal, will make their contributions to solve the technical and commercial challenges to make our life better with XR.

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