The gaming industry has experienced massive growth and is continuing to expand globally. Its value now exceeds $300 billion, and the number of gamers continues to climb, with growing representation across numerous demographics. People flock to video games to connect with friends, meet new people, have fun and find community among those who share similar interests. The industry includes major gaming companies that have been around for decades, as well as small studios, young and old. As the industry evolves, gaming companies have to balance the need to support old and new games, as well as integrate emerging technologies like AI, machine learning and virtual reality.
In the world of gaming, player experience is everything. Perhaps more so than in any other industry, improving customer experience and garnering customer loyalty can make or break a company. Gamers are a diverse, globally distributed community with vastly different technical competencies, hardware, software and connectivity. This makes it quite a challenge to standardize the experience. Not to mention that creating player loyalty requires gaming companies to support both legacy and new titles. But all gamers share one thing in common: they want impeccable experiences, and when they have less-than-ideal ones, they won’t hesitate to talk about it publicly on social media and online communities.
To meet the needs of their user base, gaming companies must overcome considerable technical complexity. Different platforms, studios, games and game versions can have different technical requirements. Some games are simpler, while others demand instant multi-player replay and ultra-fast connectivity. Maintaining a large catalog of titles also means supporting older games even though developers will be focused on newer ones. All the while, there’s fierce competition across the industry to accelerate time to market. The improvements necessary to facilitate a better player experience often require deeper than average network visibility and control, and a heavy focus on identifying and gathering new data metrics.
In the world of gaming, player experience is everything. Perhaps more so than in any other industry, improving customer experience and garnering customer loyalty can make or break a company.”
Infrastructure requirements for gaming companies
It goes without saying that gaming generates a lot of data, and gaming companies have rigorous hardware, software and networking requirements. To give you a sense of their most common infrastructure requirements and challenges:
- Compute capacity. Gaming companies need a large amount of compute capacity—often hundreds or thousands of servers distributed around the world, and regularly deployed in new locations. Many rely on the use of multiple public clouds, but cloud providers can’t always provide the compute they need in some areas due to available capacity, inventory of required compute types or connectivity limitations.
- Scalability. Gaming companies need to be able to scale up infrastructure quickly in times of high demand—such as when a new, popular title is released—but they also need an easy way to scale down when demand decreases, while at the same time maximizing the performance of each individual system, server, virtual machine (VM) or container these critical services are running on.
- Low latency. Video games require high availability and low-latency connectivity. Gaming companies typically have baseline requirements for networking such as core RAM, disk and network speed. Ultimately, the speed of light has one of the greatest impacts here, and getting these baseline requirements positioned as close to the players as possible is incredibly important. At the same time, granular visibility and control of network performance are becoming as significant as physical proximity.
- Access to key service providers. Gaming companies tend to work with major network and IT service providers and vendors, so it’s important to be on a vendor-neutral platform where they can easily access all the services they need, without being locked into cloud platforms or ecosystems that make it difficult (or expensive) to interact or interconnect with other cloud ecosystems.
- Standardized platform. Gaming companies have traditionally had limited options with hosting providers, which can lead to inconsistent experiences for their players and employees. Getting on a standardized platform is also advantageous as it ensures that performance, availability and reliability can be attained so that these companies can focus on what they do best: providing the ultimate gaming experience to their players.
How the gaming industry is evolving to deliver better player experiences
Businesses in the gaming industry are working on a variety of infrastructure solutions to help them optimize the player experience—everything from cloud optimization to improving the hybrid multicloud experience to network modernization.
Many of the more established companies are in the process of moving from a centralized to a distributed architecture. Others that were “born in the cloud” still need physical infrastructure in closer proximity to their users. Some gaming companies are working to more clearly define or refine what their “edge” means—whether that’s moving towards the cloud or improving last-mile connectivity to players. And many are managing their growth by taking advantage of digital infrastructure solutions like virtual networking functions, software-defined interconnection and Bare Metal as a Service (BMaaS).
Let’s look at a few stories:
Super League Gaming manages growth with automated bare metal
Like many gaming companies, the esports experience platform Super League Gaming saw enormous growth in its fan base in the first year of the pandemic. Its online community grew by 62% in just a few months. When its DevOps team identified the need to support this unprecedented growth in an agile way, it decided to deploy automated bare metal from Equinix. Not only did Equinix Metal® provide support for Kubernetes and APIs; it also improved the player experience, and users reported better performance from their services.
i3D.net accelerates digital infrastructure to support global gaming growth
i3D.net—a Ubisoft company—provides low-latency application hosting and infrastructure services designed to meet the needs of the gaming industry. To best meet the needs of the global player base, i3D.net moved part of its gaming platform to Platform Equinix® where it could gain proximity to its users at the digital edge. By optimizing its network backbone and using Equinix Fabric® interconnection to connect to essential cloud and network service providers, the company is delivering the lowest possible latency to its customers and removing the frustration of in-game lag.
AWS and Equinix offer gaming companies a better hybrid infrastructure experience
Digital infrastructure delivers significant benefits for gaming companies—interconnecting physical and virtual technologies and providing the ability to quickly and flexibly scale to meet ever-changing requirements. Equinix and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offer another approach for online gaming companies to address scalability and performance needs, while getting to market quickly and providing a great player experience. With AWS Direct Connect and AWS Outposts at Equinix, gaming studios and developers can have a reliable, secure, low-latency connection that bypasses the public internet and provides the network performance that online gaming demands. They can also take advantage of Equinix Metal and Equinix Fabric to expand the reach of their infrastructure into new markets, closer to their audience.
A platform for better gaming experience delivery
These are just a few examples of how the Equinix platform provides the right components to facilitate a better player experience. As a global company with 240+ data centers around the world, we offer gaming companies connectivity in their required locations. The rich Equinix ecosystem provides access to thousands of cloud, network and IT service providers—and because Equinix is a vendor-neutral platform, gaming companies maintain flexibility and choice to work with their preferred partners. Equinix also enables companies to quickly and securely deploy on-demand digital infrastructure solutions—like virtual networking and automated bare metal powered by software-defined interconnection—for high-performance, low-latency infrastructure at cloud speed. We do this all while providing granular visibility and control of the network, helping to define, or often redefine, what “the edge” means to each customer.
We’ve worked with gaming industry leaders and have the expertise to understand what gaming companies and studios need, to help them solve their pain points, and to design the optimal infrastructure to support their growth.
To learn more about how digital infrastructure can help you improve customer experience, download the Leaders’ Guide to Digital Infrastructure.
 Accenture, Global Gaming Industry Value Now Exceeds $300 Billion, New Accenture Report Finds, April 29, 2021.