Preventing Player Lag and High-Ping Times with a CDN

A developer’s player base can be a delicate asset especially when competitor games are similar. Gamers are demanding when it comes to their favorite MMO. High-ping times cause lag that then cause frustration. Players need quick response times to win, and they can’t win if they go up against another player with superior resources. It’s the gaming developer’s job to create infrastructure and software that’s optimized for the best player experience, and a CDN can relieve much of the overhead supporting users across the globe.

MMOs and Lag

Massive multi-player online games (MMOs) require infrastructure unlike a traditional public-facing web server. With some luck and marketing, an MMO can go from a userbase of only a few thousand to millions of players across the globe. Take Blizzard’s Warcraft MMO released in 2004.  At its high, Warcraft had 12 million subscribers. The game was a success, but in early years any expansion releases were plagued with extreme lag and long login wait times.

To combat wait times and lag, Blizzard changed its infrastructure including the addition of a CDN. Warcraft has subscribers all over the world, so leveraging data centers at key geographic locations distributed customer authentication and content delivery. Instead of users connecting to one central location, they downloaded content and authenticated with servers closer to their play station.

Fast Content Delivery and Lower Ping Times

Anyone who remembers the old Blizzard launch days knows that it could take hours to log into a server during initial release of an expansion. Mists of Pandaria was especially difficult for players due to the massive popularity of the new release. After spending hours waiting to log into a Warcraft server, players then had massive lag that created frustration. This frustration led to abandoning the game until traffic died down.

Blizzard could retain players even with laggy launch days, but new developers aren’t as lucky. Poor performance and gameplay lead to incredibly bad reviews from all of the popular critics including gamers. When word gets out that gaming performance is poor, a new game’s player base will dwindle. For this reason, good infrastructure is just as important as good code.

Gaming developers can avoid this critical mistake by adding a CD to infrastructure proactively in the design phase. CDNs are incredibly easy to integrate into current infrastructure, and performance is guaranteed to improve.

CDNs aren’t just for MMO developers either. They can improve speeds for boxed games when developers release new downloadable content for gamers to purchase. Instead of downloading from a central server, gamers can download new content from an CDN edge server that caches content. Cached content is pulled from the developer’s main origin server but cached for faster processing and delivery. Gamers get a faster download without waiting for others first.

Whether a gaming developer serves a few hundred users or several million, a CDN is guaranteed to improve performance with faster servers, data center locations, and cached content ready for transfer to gamers.

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