Whether your customers are avid gamers that play frequently or just dabble from time to time in a mobile or online video game, there’s no escaping the gaming industry’s influence as one of the largest and most popular forms of entertainment. Game developers continue to wow us with video games that are providing cinematic experiences—like Assassin’s Creed and Red Dead Redemption—by constantly enhancing the quality of graphics and animation. In order to deliver an outstanding gaming experience, it’s crucial for gaming providers to implement a robust and strategic IT architecture that can fully support their growing needs and establish reliable gaming connectivity.
Growing Gaming Market
Gaming has become one of the most lucrative entertainment industries with revenues estimated at $152.1 billion in 2019 and more than 2.4 billion active gamers globally. Mobile gaming continues to generate the largest chunk of revenue and has grown +10.2% YOY. in 2019, mobile games generated $68.5 billion or 45% of the global market and is expected to become a $100 billion market by 2021.
Interconnection at the center of gaming
A huge component of enabling this growth is reliable interconnection that delivers games to gamers seamlessly with a high-quality user experience. No matter how brilliantly crafted a game is, it can become unplayable without the right behind-the-scenes infrastructure. Lag time on a slow wireless network and issues with your connectivity would equate to a “game over” scenario for your users literally but also in providing a poor gaming experience. Your online gaming service is only as good as the data center and connectivity via network and service providers powering it. The demands on bandwidth, upload speeds and data usage and data processing are only going to sky rocket in the coming years.
5G and edge will take online gaming to the next level
Gaming is expected to be at the forefront of 5G-led innovations and is anticipated to account for 90% of 5G AR data by 2028. Currently, the average speed for the 4G network is around 35 mbps while 5G promises a speed of 400-500 mbps which will allow for a better streaming experience for wireless gaming. It’s expected that 5G mobile games will generate $100 billion in revenue in 2020. New and improved features such as immersive, in-game virtual reality experiences with accessories like responsive haptic clothing will not only potentially propel us into a Ready Player One-like future but also make lightning-fast connectivity and low-latency critical. Another key factor is the edge. The combination of 5G and edge will enable vast amounts of bandwidth, high compute capabilities, and low latency which we’re already seeing with cloud gaming services like Stadia.
IT infrastructure considerations for gaming
Experiencing lag time is extremely frustrating when trying to get to the next level of a game. It can even destroy users' loyalty to a gaming provider. In order to provide a high-quality, seamless user experience, consider the following:
1. Scale to accommodate millions of new users
It was anticipated that 2019 would mark the United States surpassing China as the world’s largest gaming market by revenues. The main driver of this is two-fold:
- There was a +13.9% increase revenues generated by console games which represents $18.5 billion, or 50%, of the total gaming market in the U.S.
- China implemented a licensing freeze on new games that lasted nine months and also took action to reduce screen time for kids.
Despite China’s licensing freeze, APAC territories are still generating the highest total global game revenues at 47% of the global total, the majority of which is mobile. China is expected to regain their #1 gaming revenue market in 2020. With this expected global growth, it’s important to future-proof your IT environment so you can go from 1 cabinet to multi-megawatts if need be. And depending on how popular your game becomes, you’ll want your data center to be prepared to handle an increase in demand with the drop of a hat. You should never have to place restrictions on your business growth.
2. Simplify your hybrid and multi-cloud access
Cloud gaming, or Gaming-as-a-Service (GaaS), is expected to expand the market on a scale not seen since the introduction of mobile gaming. So having a solid and seamless cloud strategy will be necessary. To avoid complexity, look for solutions that allow you to access multiple clouds through one, secure connection to allow for easier provisioning and higher performance.
3. Defy data gravity barriers
The amount of data that will be produced by the gaming industry will be staggering. Google Stadia is expected to generate 1 terabyte of data per day based on its bandwidth requirements. With all of this data and network traffic, data gravity is a real challenge that may prevent IT from accommodating global workflows to address the needs of specific gamers in specific locations. It’s important for gaming providers to have the flexibility to easily and rapidly address changes within markets and user behavior. Without the ability to scale at will, IT costs will go up and performance will go down. Gartner predicts that the amount of data that will be processed outside a centralized hub will increase from 10% to 50% by 2022. The traditional data center is dying and it’s critical for businesses to evolve their IT environments in order to accommodate distributed and global workflows.
4. Resiliency: keep your data safe and secure
Unexpected changes can happen at any time, whether it’s a bad storm or a power outage, so it’s critical to have dependable redundancy and disaster recovery designs in place to prevent any downtime.
5. Proximity to major markets
With billions of gamers in regions all around the world who are accessing the same online gaming content at varying times of day, online gaming has become ubiquitous and requires infrastructure that lives in proximity to user populations in order to reduce latency. Low latency is crucial when delivering the best gaming experience to avoid jitter, lag time, and a slow upload speed and download speed. The closer your IT infrastructure is to your end users, the better your chances are of delivering an uninterrupted and high-quality experience. By distributing your architecture closer to the edge of your population centers, gaming performance is optimized for your users.
As the gaming industry continues to grow and become more data-intense, it’s essential for streaming video game providers to enable growth throughout the life cycle of the game experience, the developer, and the provider.