Just a 100ms delay in a gamer’s experience can have a negative impact on gaming subscriptions. With this in mind, online game files continue to get larger and larger requiring fast bandwidth and server resources. Traditional online games had servers behind load balancers that handled user requests. For older, smaller games this type of infrastructure was feasible, but now online gaming requires much faster, distributed resources that only a CDN can offer.
How a CDN Works
Instead of pooling all gamer requests to one location, a content delivery network distributes requests across data centers. Requests are sent to the nearest data center based on the user’s location. CDNs might have several data center locations in the same region such as the west and east regions of the US.
Online gaming servers still push content to the CDN’s edge servers, but these edge servers are located in data centers and cache data. Cached data is processed and returned to the gaming request much faster than relying on traditional infrastructure to dynamically send data. Cached data keeps it in memory, so servers can quickly respond without waiting for drives and databases to search content and reply to a request.
For game developers first starting out, having a CDN offers the latest technology and infrastructure that most new developers can’t afford to deploy. These small indie game developers can harness the best in infrastructure for a low monthly cost instead of spending thousands on in-house equipment.
Lower Ping Times
Lowering ping times immediately speeds up a game’s performance and keeps gaming customers engaged. Latency is a game developer’s worst nightmare, and it can destroy a game’s popularity. Latency could also stem from the gamer’s poor Internet connection, but a gaming developer can avoid massive backlash from most players by offering everything possible to keep latency low.
Gamers use the term “ping times” which also reflects latency factors. Other factors can affect ping times. The gamer could be on a congested network. The gamer’s ISP could be having infrastructure issues. Even some cyber security attacks affect global Internet connectivity for entire countries. A gaming developer can’t control these factors, but infrastructure can be put into place to avoid being the main cause for slow gameplay.
In addition to lowering latency and ping times, having a CDN installed also improves availability and performance for expansions and patches deployed by the developer as an online game evolves. Boxed gaming developers can also use a CDN to deploy new gaming content where thousands of users would request DLC files at the same time. Since requests are distributed, these thousands of people will make requests to the closest data center.
As gaming files continue to grow, having a CDN is a must for any developer. Adding a CDN reduces latency and can even ensure that patches and updates are always available on the launch date. CDNs are super easy to configure and integrate well with any origin servers and infrastructure. It’s a cost effective way to keep gamers engaged and keep coming back for more play time.