Why gamers abandon games – and creating the best online gaming experience

Daniel Landsman
Global Director of Ad Tech Solutions
August 26, 2022|8 min read

Every gamer has experienced it: You’re completely immersed in a game, ready to make your move and destroy your opponent…and then everything freezes. Definitely not the best online gaming experience. Reconnecting is taking forever, and during the lag, your opponent knocks you off. You’re out of the game and you have to start over – nothing saved; all progress has been lost. With the realization you have to start over, it’s hard not to just smash the screen in a fit of rage.

Sound familiar? If you are a gamer, it’s likely something you have experienced before – along with wonky NPCs, glitchy graphics, multiple game crashes, long load times, and in-game purchasing errors. Doesn’t it irk you? Has this ever made you just want to leave the game and never return?Unfortunately, these things damage the game publishers’ brand and cut into revenue.Consider that global gaming is currently worth more than $300 billion. It’s a lucrative and competitive market, so if you’re a publisher you need to ensure these events don’t happen in your game.Without fast, reliable, and scalable technology, gamers can become annoyed, stressed and angry if they don’t have a seamless experience. Whether gamers are trying to make split-second decisions in the heat of battle or buying their character a funky hat from the game store, if the results are less than satisfactory it may mean lost revenue.Publishers don’t want to end up on a “worst games” list, but that’s what happens when players are subjected to problems. For example, a writer on Game Designing called “Fallout: New Vegas,” a “hot mess of glitches” that resulted in a save file of more than 25 hours being completely invalidated when the game kept freezing every time his character left a building.“Does that mean I think Fallout: New Vegas is a bad game? Not at all. Was I frustrated? Hesitant to play again? Absolutely,” Bryan Wirtz writes.

Other gamers have been equally frustrated with poor performance. The Sea of Thieves glitches a few years ago resulted in players unable to use any inventory items except cannonballs and bananas – not hardly what’s needed to defeat one’s enemies. Files in “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” led to one quest being impossible to be completed as saved files became corrupted.In addition, a recent Limelight (now Edgio) survey finds that 47% of gamers say that fast performance is extremely important to them and was cited as the most important aspect of gameplay. In addition, 87% of global gamers say the process of downloading games is frustrating.Game companies try to be responsive to problems and fix them as soon as they can – because if they don’t, they’ll be vilified on gaming forums and social media platforms. Still, it makes sense to put the technology in place that delivers better quality results, fewer glitches, increased customer satisfaction, brand loyalty and improved revenues before things go wrong.

Gamers have high expectations

The stakes for gaming companies have never been higher. It is critical to provide the best online gaming experience.According to the Entertainment Software Association, nearly 227 million Americans play video games. Of that number, 57% use a smartphone for gaming, followed by 46% using a game console and 42% using a personal computer.

In addition, smartphone games in 2022 account for 45% of video gaming revenue worldwide. Mobile gaming, reports Statistica, is on track to surpass the $100 billion mark by next year. In the U.S., mobile games revenue hit $41.7 billion.The association survey finds that the pandemic prompted people to put in more gaming hours – and that is a practice most people say they will continue even when they’re not in lockdown. And while online gaming is certainly populated by a lot of young males, the pandemic also spurred more game playing by families and older demographic groups.

Such statistics further ratchet up the challenge for gaming companies. A more diverse set of gamers means that developers must figure out ways to appeal to a wider audience. It also means that it will be more important than ever to provide a high-quality, secure, customized and reliable gaming experience.In other words, it’s not just about the game. It’s about the experience.

“Stickiness” leads to monetization

Stickiness is defined as a ratio of daily active users and monthly active users. It indicates the game’s ability to retain players over a month’s time and mitigate churn.Customer stickiness in games can also occur when a player becomes involved in a multi-player game online, eventually joining a group of players. As Shay Pierce on Game Developer explains, “he no longer plays the game so much because he finds it fun, but simply because it’s where his community is – he cares about being part of this circle of friends more than he ever cared about killing NPCs or completing quests.”

When stickiness leads to more players participating regularly, that also can boost revenue through targeted ads and in-game purchases. In 2020, global gaming audiences spent about $54 billion on additional in-game content, growing $74.4 billion in 2025 per Statistica.But before any of this happens though, the game must be appealing to the player. Good content, smooth gameplay and no hiccups.

Five key elements that game developers need to focus on to provide the best gaming experience

Let’s look at six critical pain points that can quickly damage the gaming experience and how to fix them:

  1. Speed – Instant response time is imperative for any gaming experience. Lethargic system performance and latency is going to cause players to abandon a game, result in brand damage and lead to lost revenue opportunities. Games need to maintain speed even when there are huge spikes in usage. Millions of simultaneous, real-time player interactions, item acquisitions and sophisticated fraud detection all generate massive numbers of reads and writes against huge data volumes. While processing speeds in the milliseconds is a challenge, especially during usage spikes, it is possible with real time data platform like Aerospike. Aerospike’s patented architecture dramatically improves performance by distributing the database and the workload across multiple servers.

  2. Personalization – With so many games to choose from, personalization has become a critical way for game developers to keep users playing as well as to monetize their customer base. There is often a very fine line between interest and boredom, so keeping users engaged for longer is a key marker in determining the success or failure of any game. Personalization is a way of increasing the appeal of a game to a broader audience by tailoring core in-game elements to their preferences. Read how Sony Interactive has made the Playstation experience more personal.

  3. Scalability – Information is collected on gamers to offer a more personalized experience, and that means that accessing that data in real-time is a key ingredient in offering a seamless and customized experience. Storing, accessing and retrieving massive amounts of player profile data, including rankings, demands an ability to scale out easily and quickly. It can be difficult to use relational databases for such a use case because they don’t scale horizontally. The data volume generated by gaming demands the ability to scale out easily without a lot of manual intervention and coding. Learn how Aerospike helped Playtika simplify their architecture and accelerate growth.

  4. Fraud prevention – Companies are looking for more ways to monetize online gaming. As a result, they are looking for more ways to sell products through a game or offer microtransactions. Fraud prevention is critical for in-game wallets. At the same time, game developers must prevent in-game bullying and cheating since either will cause customers to play elsewhere. Aerospike takes fraud prevention to the next level by processing huge amounts of streaming data, along with a system of record data required by fraud prevention and machine learning algorithms. This allows developers to guard against fraudulent transactions and ensure transactions are smooth, fast and secure. Aerospike is so good at this that Paypal uses Aerospike for their fraud prevention. Learn how PayPal puts data at the heart of its fraud strategy with Aerospike.

  5. AI/ML systems – Artificial intelligence and machine learning systems are taking gaming to the next level. One example is being able to turn speech into text in order to document, save and report bad behavior. Another is to provide support via an in-game assistant that can have personalized conversations to help players in-game. This way in-game customer support is personalized based on the habits, preferences and abilities displayed in-game. In order to provide these experiences, and more, there is an unending appetite for data. Aerospike’s data platform is designed to ingest massive amounts of data in real-time for parallel processing while connecting to compute platforms as well as notebooks and ML packages. Read how the Aerospike Real-time Data Platform feeds hungry ML systems more data faster and efficiently.

Delivering the best online gaming experience is critical to gaining players and protecting your reputation. Online gaming users demand flexibility, speed and reliable performance. To find out how Aerospkike can keep your gaming customers engaged and your development teams productive, visit us at