With the Fortnight World Cup having just passed us by, Matt George of Equinix explores the digital infrastructure that underpins the gaming boom.
Boasting a prize fund of over £2.4m, this year’s Fortnite World Cup was a sign that massive multiplayer online gaming (MMOG) has hit the mainstream.
The winner of the solo final, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania named Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf, went home with £2.4 million dollars – more money than Novak Djokovic took home for winning Wimbledon.
The Fortnite World Cup brought new scale to e-sports and gaming. The event attracted more than 40m players at the group stages, and over 2.3 million viewers worldwide who streamed the event online via connected devices such as phones, laptops and tablets.
The hosts claim that the Fortnite World Cup was ‘the most-watched competitive gaming event of all time’ outside of China.
Certainly, the mass appeal of MMOG has helped fuel a dramatic growth and digital transformation of the gaming industry.
Once a console-based hobby for children and teens, the segment now appeals to a much broader consumer base and is worth an estimated £3.86bn.
This exponential growth is being accelerated by the changing tactics of game developers who are removing the need for a physical product, as games and updates are increasingly downloaded directly to consoles or played entirely in the cloud.
Lightning fast reactions, lightning fast connections
The meteoric rise of interactive, experiential gaming has dramatically increased the need for online gaming network bandwidth.
In its 2018 report on global consumer internet traffic, Statista found that online gaming already accounts for 3% of global data traffic. This figure is projected to rise even further, reaching 15% in 2022.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Leaning (ML) and Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) systems are becoming part-and-parcel of the modern gaming experience.
To fuel this change, and to keep up the constant improvements being made in processing and graphics power, the gaming industry demands high speed connections between gaming systems, ISP’s and cloud computing. This ensures that latency does not impact the customer experience.
Latency is of top importance in an environment in which any lag in response time leaves a player at a competitive disadvantage.
The stakes have never been higher.
When the speed of your connection can mean the difference between a £2.4m prize and falling out of the competition, data must be exchanged flawlessly and in real-time.
Bring gamers to the edge
Ensuring perceived latency doesn’t impact the customer experience is difficult enough, but an additional challenge lies in making sure the user experience isn’t hindered during event driven surges – such as the release of a new ‘must-have’ game or during regular software updates.
To put this into context, BT reported a 40% increase in data traffic in the space of an hour when Fortnite Season 10 was released in the UK.
Having a digital framework that gives not only speed and agility, but also flexibility and scalability, is crucial during spike periods such as this to make sure the surge in data can be processed effectively and efficiently.
The best way to achieve this is by bringing gaming servers and access nodes to the digital edge, in which data centres are close to areas dense with gaming providers and players.
An Interconnection Oriented Architecture (IOA) strategy, which positions gaming providers, partners and players at the edge will enable companies to reduce latency, reduce traffic costs, and accommodate surges.
Moreover, once 5G launches, gamers will want to take advantage of the opportunity to game anywhere at any time. This boost to mobile gaming will exaggerate the need for a comprehensive edge strategy.
Achieving the future of gaming
At Equinix, we are experts in helping our customers navigate the complex and continually changing gaming landscape.
Our global interconnection platform of 200+ data centres allows world leading gaming platforms and developers such as Blade (Shadow) and Pearl Abyss, to directly interconnect with country internet exchanges and have access to more than 1,800 network and 2,900+ cloud and IT service providers. Our footprint means that our customers can leverage a global platform that enables them to reach anywhere at any time.
According to Akamai, the gaming industry has faced 12 billion cyber-attacks in the 17 months following November 2017.
Leveraging an interconnection first approach on Platform Equinix offers an additional layer of security, because our ecosystems operate away from the public internet and within the confines of a data centre – meaning it is less susceptible to hackers and other cyber criminals.
This is essential in the new era of gaming, which is using increasing amounts of personal data, including credit card information and in-game history – all of which requires nearline or real-time storage
Image Credit: Whelsko via Flickr