Is Starlink the Future of Cloud Gaming?

Will Starlink be able to make fast and reliable internet accessible to everyone?
Profile picture of Abdul Moiz

Created by Abdul Moiz

Published on Aug 7, 2022
image of the earth from space

Over the past few decades, gaming has become widely popular and a common pastime for casual and serious players. Not only that, many people have built fortunes playing games and have exploded in popularity. While this is true, a large part of the world still struggles with having a proper broadband connection and cannot imagine playing games online.

And this is where Elon Musk's Starlink comes in to aid the population who lives in rural areas with poor internet connectivity. But can you play video games on Starlink? How about competitive e-sports?

Here’s why Starlink has the potential to be the future of the internet and cloud gaming.

Starlink’s Current Status and Ambitions

The gaming industry is rapidly growing — COVID-19 boosted the growth even more than previously predicted. The market share of the gaming industry in 2021 was worth roughly $173.17 billion and is expected to grow to $314.40 billion by 2027. 

The gaming industry is lucrative now, and many people are building their careers by gaming. A fast and strong internet connection is needed to play games. A strong internet connection is not about having fast download and upload speed, but also having low latency. 

Starlink’s latency at the moment is around 30-88ms, and in order to play games and e-sports games on Starlink's internet connection, the latency should be under 20. However, Starlink is not an entirely built infrastructure yet. The company is still deploying satellites to increase reach and to offer internet services to the whole world. 

To bring the latency below 20ms, Elon Musk is also working to deploy more ground stations across the planet. The ground stations once deployed, will beam the internet data which is connected to local fiber networks to the Starlink satellites that are orbiting. Also, Starlink is working towards streamlining the internet packet routing across the network.

Additionally, Musk tweeted “More ground stations & less foolish packet routing will make the biggest differences. Looking at speed of light as ~300km per millisecond & satellite altitude of ~550km, the average photon round-trip time is only ~10ms, so a lot of silly things have to happen to drive ping >20ms,” According to Elon Musk, Starlink theoretically needs only about 10 milliseconds to route the data if all the obstruction can be removed.

To further reduce the latency, the company is using lasers that are built-in on their newest satellites to transmit internet data from one satellite to another, all while orbiting. It was previously announced by Starlink that lasers are fully capable of transferring hundreds of gigabytes of data between the satellites in the orbit.

Elon Musk also added, “Laser links in orbit can reduce long-distance latency by as much as 50%, due to higher speed of light in vacuum and shorter path than undersea fiber.”

The lasers can also make it possible for the satellites to provide internet data to users without collecting the information from the ground stations.

Future of Gaming With Starlink

Competitive gaming will be possible with Starlink in a few years, and customers won’t have to worry about the connection speed and latency any longer. Reducing the latency speed to less than 20ms will make the Starlink connection the same as a wired broadband connection. 

However, Starlink is not meant for cities because the connection is not good enough for highly-populated areas. The target audience of Starlink is the rural customers that lack a proper broadband connection.

Musk said in a Q&A session at the Satellite 2020 conference "It will be a pretty good experience because it'll be very low latency," and also "We're targeting latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level - that's the threshold for the latency."

Final Words

Starlink is making gaming possible by reducing the latency to below 20ms. By employing various techniques and using ground stations, Starlink can transfer gigabytes of data from one satellite to another in orbit to reduce the latency speed.

Starlink will make it possible for those in rural areas that lack a proper broadband internet connection to finally have fast internet speeds. 

Elon Musk's Starlink is working toward making the dream of giving everyone accessible internet a reality.

More for you