When two Las Vegas Strip casinos lost power in early January owing to high winds, it represented a perfect metaphor for how much gaming businesses rely on something that is out of their direct control: the Internet.
Gaming continues to rely heavily on both large file downloads (for games sent to gaming consoles, for instance), and synchronous or near-synchronous communications (to enable multi-player action). When some element of the Internet goes down, or becomes so congested as to feel like it’s not working, the whole gaming experience can fall flat on its face – despite the provider having done everything in their power to guarantee a great experience. Meanwhile, the cost to provide great service continues to rise.
Well, nearly everything.
The Internet has evolved, and, while CDNs offer great value in reducing the consumer experience, it simply isn’t possible to serve a global audience with just a single CDN partner. Many Cedexis customers have as many as six to ten CDNs, serving specific customer segments. By contrast, our first conversations with customers include them telling us that they are experiencing frequent outages and slowdowns, despite working with some of the best CDN providers in the world.
Here’s a number for you: 303. That’s the number of extra hours of downtime customers in Russia suffer using the 10th highest ranked CDN versus using a combination of providers, balanced with Cedexis Openmix (you can take a look at this by heading to our CDN and Cloud Performance Reports page).
Here are five specific hints for avoiding network fails:
- Know Your Experience: it’s easy to get caught up in server load, packet loss, and other technical terms – but it’s the human experience your players receive that defines their allegiance to your service. Your best indication that you’re meeting and/or exceeding customer expectations is by using Real User Measurements (RUM). Knowing what your players expect is a necessary data point for building something better.
- Know Your Calendar: every app that needs downloads will have scheduled updates. On those days, bandwidth needs will inevitably be higher, and even a distributed infrastructure that has been working fine up until now will be put to the test. If you have an upcoming release, this is the perfect time to bring a new CDN or two into the fold, and validate the impact of having extra partners to share the load.
- Know Your Location: every business needs to expand geographically – but every CDN isn’t equally robust in every location. Use a tool like Radar to evaluate your current partners’ results in new geographics – and take the opportunity to work with a local partner, who may be able to deliver better results at lower prices for a defined audience set.
- Know Your Capacity: many companies overprovision their datacenters, and actually have computing power and bandwidth to spare. If yours is one of those companies, consider introducing your own modest DIY CDN – that way you can get the most out of the technology you already have
- Know Your Numbers: every penny spent on delivery is a penny unavailable for other purposes. Look at your delivery costs, and ask whether there aren’t economic efficiencies to be found by working with more providers – lower base prices, say, or the option to offload peak traffic to avoid the always-maddening burst charges.
And don’t forget to meet us at ICE Totally Gaming in London February 7 – 9.