Presented by DataStax
Building your player base and making sure it thrives long-term requires the right technology tools, solutions and strategy. In this VB Spotlight, industry pros behind one of the world’s largest games share the key strategies and crucial technology that helps games rise to the top.
A poor user experience will kill a game fast. For 50% of players, poor response in the games they play is their biggest frustration, and 34% will quit a session, or ditch even an entire game, in the face of bad response times. Of course, and unfortunately, a studio can’t control variables on the user’s end. But if it wants to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded market, it had better take charge of every other element of a game — particularly when it comes to putting its tech infrastructure in place and making technology decisions.
“If your game takes even as long as a blink of the eye to respond, that’s when players start looking for other options,” says Aaron Ploetz, DBRE and developer advocate at DataStax. “A good example of this is the launch of Pokémon Go, which fell on its face because the data store layer was not properly scaled. They didn’t think ahead of time in terms of the potential audience, and the technology they’d need to handle an influx of users. It’s about being prepared to handle your own success.”
For a game today, that means a real-time scalable data stack that can deliver user experiences, and back up engagement, retention and growth strategies. Developers need to launch the game with technology optimized to handle the situations you expect (like outages), the events you’re hoping for (like overwhelming popularity) and the possibility of expansion in the future.
Building a powerful, flexible game infrastructure
From the start, it’s important to build out the components of a game system so that they can be individually scaled. By their nature, some systems will need more CPU, some more RAM, others more disk, all based on what kinds of functions they’re fundamentally designed to handle. The more separated these components are, the easier it is to spec out those resources based on what’s necessary at any given time. Ploetz points to the cloud microservice architecture paradigm as an example, especially as cloud digital transformation has become more ubiquitous.
For the data store layer, it’s important to think about using tech that he describes as geographically aware. Apache Cassandra (also the database behind DataStax Astra DB), is geographically aware, because you can logically tie it to a data center. The idea is to make data calls as local as possible, to reduce as much latency as possible. Users in New York shouldn’t have to call all the way to London for a data write.
“A geographically aware database is about getting the data to where your customers are,” he explains. “Most cloud economists recommend ensuring your data replication centers are in places that are central to where your customers live. But if money were no object, you’d want to put your data in as many regions as possible.”
He notes that building distributed data structures is quite different than traditional relational databases, not only in the way that data is stored, but in the way that it’s accessed. Relational databases were designed at a time when disk space was inordinately expensive (to the tune of a million bucks); today you can snag a terabyte drive off Newegg for $40.
For distributed data models, operational time can be the challenge. When you store the items that are queried together, column values, rows and partitions can start to grow large — and that means queries slow down, sometimes significantly. Keeping it as small as possible makes the most difference in performance — the smaller the result sets, the faster your system moves. It’s part of what makes dealing with large-scale distributed systems a challenging endeavor, and why companies new to the technology should start small, one system at a time, and tap a partner for backup.
To learn more about the ways your technology backend is directly tied to player engagement, retention and growth, how to build a powerful game infrastructure that grows with your studio and more, don’t miss this VB Spotlight event!
- Launching new games faster and shipping updates quickly
- Increasing player engagement, retention and word of mouth
- Scaling efficiently and cost effectively for every size audience
- Maintaining availability for a global audience
- Henning Kosmack, CEO and Co-founder, MegaZebra
- Daniel Lee, Solutions Architect – WWCS DNB Games, AWS
- Aaron Ploetz, DBRE/Developer Advocate, DataStax
- Rachel Kaser, Technology Writer, VentureBeat (Moderator)