Online gaming companies have the unique challenge of keeping global users happy with fast downloads and rich, high quality graphics. These companies have it harder than, for instance, a console gaming distributor that just needs to provide updates when they are needed. Online gaming companies deliver dynamic content constantly as the gamer plays in an online world, so they need a way to send content faster than any other local application.
Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games support millions of users at a time. Companies such as Blizzard often had performance issues and outright server crashes when they initially launched games. Warcraft users knew that patch day or release of a new expansion meant that logging into any Blizzard server would be possibly an hour (or longer) wait. Once you were able to log in, the game would download slowly, and gameplay would be patchy. Images wouldn’t render well, and gameplay had terrible performance issues. During some expansion launches, gamers would be disconnected from a server without warning and thrown back into the wait queue.
How a CDN Reduces Gameplay Delays and Expansion Download Times
When you have millions of users connecting to one location, it’s inevitable that users will see performance issues. Nothing frustrates gamers more than experiencing crashes while trying to download an expansion or major patch.
A CDN reduces the overhead on a game developers origin server by spreading content across data centers strategically placed across each continent. When a game developer chooses a CDN provider, one aspect of a good CDN is a presence in locations where the developer has a majority of gaming customers. This will ensure that most gamers will experience fast download times and limited performance issues.
The way a CDN delivers content is the foundation for its ability to provide fast downloads. Each data center has edge servers that pull content from the game developer’s origin server. The content transfer speed from the origin server to the data center is dependent on the game developer’s server resources and bandwidth, but once the content gets to the edge server, it’s cached and stored for delivery. When users request content from the gaming developer network, they are redirected to the closest CDN edge server where cached content is transferred to the user.
Boxed Games Can Also Leverage CDN Resources
Even though MMO gaming developers can benefit the most from a CDN, boxed game developers can also improve user experiences during patch days. Boxed developers often release patches including console games installed on a PS4, Xbox or Switch. Downloads delivered to consoles can take hours, but boxed game developers can increase transfer speed of these downloads by providing more server resources and bandwidth physically closer to some users.
Any game developer that delivers content to users should add a CDN to infrastructure. It’s an affordable, faster way to transfer large files that would otherwise take some users hours to receive. It’s one way a game developer can instantly provide faster service to users and gaming enthusiasts.