Inside the Fast-Growing eSports Gaming Industry and Data Centre Connection
With the recent 2019 SEA Games, featuring eSports for the first time ever, gaming enthusiasts here and around the region would have been glad that the gaming community is fast gaining recognition. Games today are serious business - according to a report by analyst firm GlobalData, the worldwide video games market was worth more than USD 130 billion in 2018, and looks set to hit more than USD 300 billion annual revenue by 2025, growing at 13% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) within the period¹. Consumer spending on games is also continuing on its upward trajectory, with mobile gaming expected to hit 60% market share of the entire games market in 2019².
Apart from more engaging games, better graphics and an all-round more immersive gaming experience with the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), a big factor in facilitating the explosive growth of the gaming market is the fact that internet and cloud connections have improved vastly in the last few years. The availability of reliable, high-speed, low-latency internet connections in more parts of the world has enabled gaming companies to deliver a high-quality user experience to gamers around the world.
Yet with greater availability and accessibility, comes greater expectations. Any latency or lag will lead to an unfavourable gaming experience for both players and streaming viewers, causing users to lose loyalty, and in the case of eSports, even thousands of dollars in lost prize money.
Here are three tips that will help gaming companies and streaming platforms ensure a high-quality, seamless user experience for eSports players, gamers and streaming viewers alike:
1. Scalability needed to handle sudden spikes in demand
Gaming platforms and streaming sites often see huge spikes in user numbers within short periods of time. A recent example in the multi-player game Fortnite saw a spike of more than 124 million people³ playing at once, in response to a rocket ship being launched within the game. Sites with far less robust systems in place would have crashed with the sudden influx of participants, and quickly lost the hearts of their players and fans. As such, companies need to select the right infrastructure partner who can offer scalability to meet such incidents. As the popularity of the game grows, look for a data centre provider that offers scalability and can deploy additional resources to handle sudden spikes or surges.
2. The need for a fast, reliable and consistent experience
Speed is the ultimate currency in the world of online games and eSports. Gamers demand for speeds that can match their lightning fast reflexes, and which can handle the rich in-game graphics. Similarly, viewers want to watch their favourite players in real-time, and catch all the drama and excitement of the live stream without the need for buffering. In this case, data centres need to be situated close enough to the action to achieve super low latency.
An “always on” approach is also required to ensure that layers of fail-proof redundancy measures are in place for additional system reliability, should any unexpected events occur to disrupt the smooth gaming experience. Furthermore, with gaming content and mobile gaming applications more dispersed and hyper-distributed than ever across the hybrid or multi-cloud, access to cloud connectivity is also important for games providers when considering which colocation provider they wish to be hosted in.
Lastly, data centre providers with unified platforms that have a regional or even global reach will be even better. This is considering the global reach of over 2.3 billion gamers today⁴, with more than half of them residing in Asia Pacific⁵ and the rest spread throughout the globe, and the need to provide a consistent experience to billions of users spread across different geographies.
3. Resiliency and business continuity
Disasters can strike from time to time, be it natural weather phenomena or man-made events. Game providers need to ensure they have the appropriate processes in place to handle such incidents. Whether it is back-up power, duplicate servers or disaster recovery systems, one needs to be well-prepared to handle these incidents when they happen. While it will be difficult to ensure 100% uptime all the time, any prolonged downtime for the platform will result in adverse reputational and brand loyalty losses.
It is worthy then to consider infrastructure partners that already have such disaster-preparedness plans in place, and which can offer you sufficient cover if and when disaster strikes. Gaming companies and streaming services can also engage the help of external consultants in a stress test or audit of their systems, and ensure they are resilient enough to meet the ever-higher expectations of gamers and their fans.
With all that said, online gaming and eSports look set to continue on an unstoppable growth path, with Cisco predicting a nine-fold increase in internet gaming traffic between 2017 and 2022, increasing exponentially at 55 percent CAGR⁶. As the gaming community achieves critical mass, gaming companies, streaming platforms and data centre providers will have to work together to determine and constantly improve upon an infrastructure that would best serve the needs of this community. With news that French gaming giant Ubisoft has just acquired its own hosting provider with 33 data centres⁷ around the world, you know the gamers mean business.