Gaming Is Growing – Can the Technology Keep Up?

By September 29, 2020 October 7th, 2020 No Comments

Only three quarters through 2020, it has already been an incredible year for both gamers and gaming companies. This year, SK hynix is taking a look at the progress of the gaming industry over the past year, and predicting where it might be headed in the next.

With sensational and creative new games emerging in the market, an upward trajectory of sales and streams in the gaming industry over the past eight months has only continued to climb. According to a recent report from Bloomberg1, since the beginning of the year, “time and money spent on games—whether on consoles, computers, phones, or tablets—have soared.”

During the pandemic, online gaming activity has spiked, with streamers on Twitch gravitating towards titles including ‘League of Legends,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto V,’ ‘Fortnite,’ ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,’ and ‘Escape from Tarkov.’ At peak times, SteamDB2 reports nearly 25 million users were gaming on the platform.

And on gaming consoles such as Nintendo Switch – which has been sold out across the United States for months– some of the best-selling games have been ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,’ ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons,’ ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake,’ and ‘Ghost of Tsushima.’3

Figure 1. Screenshot from ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ (Source: Nintendo)

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Among these successful titles, ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ was certainly a standout in the first half of this year. The game is focused on building your own village and interacting with adorable in-game animal characters; what’s more is that players can communicate with other players and invite them to their own virtual villages. With this feature, the game has become the place where people from different generations communicate virtually during the pandemic.4

Gaming Is Booming – And So Is Demand for Advanced Memory Solution

As the gaming industry continues to grow, its games, platforms, hardwares and technologies are evolving alongside it at a steady clip. This means richer, more detailed games, clearer displays, higher resolutions, faster speeds, and ultimately, greater storage requirements. It seems that every few months, there is another industry-first or record-breaking achievement, with each new game outpacing the next. This is especially true for storage requirements, which have grown steadily with each new game announced.

Chart 1. Notable Game Systems Average Game Size. [Source: Hongkiat Blog]5

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For example, the hugely popular ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’ title set a new storage record when it launched in 2019 – requiring a whopping 175GB of storage space. As games continue to innovate and improve, they will likely begin to exceed storage requirements of 200GB, in turn requiring a storage capacity of 256GB, or even larger.6

But the latest video games require more than just larger capacity from advanced storage solutions; gamers have always desired storages with faster load time so that they can immerse themselves in gaming. However, the HDD storage adopted by the current generation gaming consoles couldn’t meet such needs, and some people even chose to customize their device with up-to-date SSD storage to fully enjoy the true gaming experience.7

Emerge of Next-gen Gaming Consoles, and SSDs

Figure 2-1. [Source: Sony PlayStation.Blog]

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Figure 2-2. [Source: Microsoft Xbox Blog]

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For the first time later this year, the SSDs will come to use in gaming consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. According to Forbes8, “the SSDs in the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are going to change the console gaming experience for the better.” The faster, more sophisticated SSDs in these consoles will reduce load times, improve asset streaming speed, and potentially allow gamers to instantly resume multiple games the second they quit.9 There is surely much for gamers to expect in the second half of this year.

Chart 2. Sony Developers Excited to See SSDs Coming to the Consoles
[Source: Sony PlayStation Blog]10

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Evolving SSDs in the Consumer Market

Figure 3-1. SK hynix Gold S31 SSD

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Figure 3-2. SK hynix Gold S31 SSD

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Of course, there are countless variations of SSD products available in the market these days. Over the past year or so, SK hynix has pivoted into the consumer SSD market, with the launch of the SK hynix Gold S31 SSD in 2019, and most recently, the groundbreaking launch of the Gold P31 SSD just last month. The world’s first 128-layer NAND Flash-based consumer SSD, P31 is one of the fastest and most innovative consumer SSDs on the market.

Figure 4-1. SK hynix Gold P31 SSD

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Figure 4-2. SK hynix Gold P31 SSD

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Enabled by heavily stacked memory chips, the P31 allows for even better performance and longer endurance. It is also our first-ever PCIe based consumer drive on the market, with innovative features like its in-house controller and top-tier NAND Flash memory.

… and towards the Next Era of Gaming

Paired with the proliferation of the 5G network, these growing storage requirements are a big reason for the popularization of cloud gaming – which allows users to game from any internet-connected device, no installation or storage needed. All gamers need is a high-speed internet connection and a display screen, as the game’s data is stored on a central server, rather than on individual devices.

Figure 5. Global Cloud Gaming Market Size (Source: IHS Markit)11

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Intriguingly, the semiconductor memory will play equally important roles in the era of cloud gaming. As people expect to get rid of high-end hardwares and play their games anytime, anywhere they want, the larger-than-ever-before data generated by latest video games has to be stored and exchanged in “somewhere”. This means that the needs for data center will continue to surge, as well as the needs for the state-of-the-art storage solutions with latest SSDs and DRAMs.

Figure 6. Image of General Data Center Server Room

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Gamers at SK hynix

As the members of one of the leading companies among global ICT industry, employees at SK hynix have never forgotten to play and enjoy in this ICT playground. We spoke with some of our employees across the network to hear which games are their favorite of all time, and why.

Figure 7. Quotes from Passionate Gamers at SK hynix

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Figure 8-1. Stacy Xu Playing Super Mario Bros.

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Figure 8-2. Yun Playing Death Stranding

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Figure 8-3. Screenshot from Death Stranding (Source: Kojima Productions)12

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With the 4th Industrial Revolution progresses, our society and daily lives are chaging in the phase that is faster than ever before, and so will our future gaming experience. It seems that there is much to expect at the brisk dawn of new era.

By Sehyun Kim

Technical Leader(TL) of Solution Development at SK hynix Inc.


1Mark Glassman, “Video Game Numbers Show an Industry’s All-Out Growth”, Bloomberg. (2020)
2xPaw and Marlamin, “Steam Database”, SteamDB. (2020)
3Ben Gilbert, “Nintendo’s Switch remains sold out everywhere as the pandemic stretches on — and there’s no end in sight”, Business Insider. (2020)
4Emma Kent, “Animal Crossing Grandma reacts to character named after her in New Horizons”, Eurogamer. (2020)
5Michael Poh, “Evolution of Home Video Game Consoles: 1967 – 2011”, Hongkiat.com. (2020)
6Bryan Lawver, “Modern Warfare 200GB File Size May Make It the Biggest Video Game Ever”, Screen Rant. (2020)
7Thomas Morgan, “We upgraded PS4 Pro with an 8TB SSD: can we make a better console?”, Eurogamer. (2020)
8Kevin Murnane, “The Xbox Series X Has A Good Solution When Its SSD Gets Full, The PS5 Doesn’t”, Forbes. (2020)
9Extreme Taco, “Monster Hunter World PS4 Slim SSD VS HDD Load Times”, YouTube. (2018)
10Mary Yee, “Devs speak: How PS5 console’s ultra-high speed SSD and Tempest 3D AudioTech engine will enhance the future of gaming”, PlayStation.Blog. (2020)
11Steve Bailey, “Next-Generation Cloud Gaming Report – 2019”, IHS Markit. (2019)
12Igor Bonifacic, “‘Death Stranding’ should run just fine on your older PC”, Engadget. (2020)