The 1980s marked the “golden age” of arcade video games. All you needed was a fistful of quarters for an afternoon of fun playing favorites like Pong, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Although you can still find those same classics on display as antiques in pizzerias, today’s gaming industry has morphed to include a multitude of genres across an array of platforms. With driving factors like the spread of high-speed broadband connections, Internet penetration and the popularity of social networking sites, online gaming seems to be a natural progression for the industry. These forces combined with new game varieties, new gamers and advanced technologies are fueling Business Insight’s prediction in their “Video Gaming Industry Outlook 2011” that the online gaming market will reach $25.3 billion dollars by 2014, a compound annual growth rate of 13.9% since 2009.
Intense competition for gamers, however, is a major concern for publishers. Gamers are a finicky breed, abandoning games that don’t offer maximum uptime and high speeds. Even one millisecond of delay for gamers is the difference between slaying the dragon and becoming the dragon’s lunch. Providing reliable downloads, eliminating buffering and delivering dynamic game rendering are real concerns for studios trying to capture these mercurial consumers. Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams put it well in their book, Fundamentals of Game Design, when they said, “Online gaming is a technology rather than a genre, a mechanism for connecting players together rather than a particular pattern of gameplay.” As a technology offering, it only makes sense to consider the IT backbone behind the title as a key differentiator in the online gaming realm. But where does a game studio begin? Here are three considerations to get you started:
- Enhanced Content Delivery Network (CDN) for fast game setup: Leverage a global network of edge POPs to cache game code and static media for initial downloads, patches and pre-rendering.
- TCP-accelerated CDN to speed downloads and eliminate buffering: TCP acceleration from the CDN edge server to the end user significantly reduces download times. A full CDN feature set ensures multi-device support including Apple and Android OS.
- Route-optimized IP for dynamic game variables: Because many game elements are highly variable, robust connectivity from the end user to the origin server is essential. Dynamic routing over multiple backbones mitigates latency and maximizes uptime.
Looking for more winning IT Infrastructure ideas? Check out our online gaming solutions sheet for more.
Image credit: Hi-Rez Studios’ Tribes Ascend