It can cost millions of dollars to develop and market a video game – “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” had a $50 million development budget and a $200 million marketing budget back in 2009, whereas Grand Theft Auto V’s development costs alone hit $265 million – so it’s critical to online gaming companies that these games are highly successful.
That means, of course, that the games must function extremely well with low latency, high availability, dependable performance and scaling capacity. If not, users may turn elsewhere in this highly lucrative and competitive market.
Currently, there are more than two billion gamers in the world, which is 26% of the world’s population. Modor Intelligence reports that the global gaming market was valued at nearly $174 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $314.40 billion by 2026.
With that kind of potential, companies like Microsoft, Nintendo, Twitch and Activision are already investing more as they continue to attract thousands of new visitors. Still, the challenge for any company is how to keep up with the latest demands by users and drive continued innovations while maintaining a great user experience.
There are already emerging trends for 2022 that show real traction in the online gaming industry. Among them:
- Cloud gaming. Companies like Onlive, G-Cluster, StreamMyGame, Gaikai and T-5 Labs are currently offering commercial cloud gaming services, and cloud gaming is expected to grow and make a serious push into the traditional game market, Modor reports. Amazon recently expanded Luna, it’s growing cloud-gaming platform that is currently in early access and free. In cloud gaming, the server stores all the games and does all the computing work, which can include rendering a game scene, game logic, processing video, encoding and video streaming. Another example is Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, which provides access to more than 100 games on Android, PCs, Macs and iOS devices for $14.99 per month.
- Subscription streaming. Streaming a song on Spotify or a movie on Netflix is often a daily occurrence for millions of people, and the gaming industry hopes to do the same with video game streaming. Microsoft’s video game streaming service, Project xCloud, became fully functional last year and Google offers Stadia, a cloud gaming service. Subscription streaming services are seen as a wave of the future and will be valuable for video game companies that can now avoid manufacturing, shipping and storage costs. Subscriptions are also a way to generate income throughout the year instead of relying on holiday sales or new game releases to generate the bulk of sales.
- Virtual reality. Facebook’s Oculus VR headsets are getting good reviews, exposing users to immersive gaming experiences with high resolution screens and a smooth refresh rate. Apple is currently aiming to put a virtual reality headset on the market by 2022 (or possibly later). It’s expected that virtual reality will become an even more popular form of entertainment, especially with improved experiences that add voice, touch screens and gestures to the game mechanics.
- Artificial intelligence. AI in gaming is still in the early stages, but the potential to revolutionize online gaming is huge. For example, AI algorithms can keep players better engaged by automatically ramping up challenges or putting new worlds or characters in front of a player based on that player’s choices.
- Home-based gaming tournaments. Before the pandemic, large arenas were filled with gaming fans watching the biggest gamers compete. The League of Legends World Championship in 2019 had about 15,000 in-person fans with 100 million viewers online. Since the pandemic hit and fans couldn’t fill such venues, more tournaments began being organized from homes, often for a much lower admission cost. Such a development means that more people can join an event, and there will never be limited seating.
Online gamers being dazzled with these new developments don’t care about the technology needed to sustain it. They don’t care that servers crash, networks go down or there are power outages. They want fast, reliable performance, 24/7.
Here’s what Aerospike can offer to meet the new and growing challenges in this competitive market while helping companies attract and retain users:
- Speed at scale. Gaming is among the most demanding database applications because of the data volume, transactions, and numbers of simultaneous users. Aerospike is designed from the ground up to achieve unrivaled speed at scale through a broad set of capabilities and unique innovations. For example, automatic database sharding is a key capability in the Aerospike architecture that dramatically improves performance by distributing the database and the workload across multiple servers. Aerospike offers the ability to store, manage and retrieve petabytes of player profile information, game performance data, statistics and rankings as well as session data for millions of users.
- Predictable performance. Online gaming can have peak loads around major events such as the introduction of a new game. Aerospike’s distributed NoSQL architecture can scale up and scale out across servers, clusters, and data centers. Automatic scaling occurs in a linear fashion, ensuring that read and write performance is consistent and predictable, even during surges.
- Act in real time. Respond in real time for great customer experience to avoid brand damage, customer abandonment, missed bets, lost game state or lost revenue opportunities. With Aerospike it is easy to subsidize play-for-free games with in-app advertisements before transforming to pay-to-play as well as track trends for leaderboards, bets, scores, updates, points and notifications as they happen.
- Rapid, iterative development. Introduce new revenue-generating games and features. Update machine learning and rules engines for fraud prevention, recommendation engines and regulatory compliance. With Aerospike it is easy to avoid fraudulent transactions across platforms and during surges in real-time.
- High availability. Aerospike’s distributed “shared-nothing” architecture and patented algorithms reliably store data with automatic failover and provide replication at the server level to handle failures. By integrating these mechanisms with transaction processing, the system is highly resistant to common failures and is, to a great extent, self-managing. Aerospike offers 365/24/7 availability with five nines of uptime.
- Reduce footprint, grow business. Aerospike’s unique “built for SSD” architecture requires far less hardware than either conventional relational or NoSQL databases. Staffing costs are also lower because of Aerospike’s simplified architecture and built-in automation.
Emerging new technology for online gaming is designed to keep players excited and engaged, whether they’re watching other players during tournaments or playing with friends at home. Still, the key to attracting and retaining users will be the ability to offer gaming experiences with extremely low latency and of course very high availability while giving gaming companies the ability to scale out while adding millions of users yet lowering server footprint. With Aerospike, companies have the dependability and agility to keep up with the latest trends in this highly competitive industry.