Mar 28, 2014

GDC 2014: Trends in the online gaming industry


online gaming industryInternap was back at GDC last week, and this time we had both a session (with our own Adam Weissmuller and Todd Harris from Hi-Rez Studios) and a booth at the show floor. It was very exciting to interact and learn from the gaming community and listen to their needs and wants, so we can make it easier for their games to launch and flourish. It was also a great opportunity to try out the latest tech, like the VR Headsets from PS4 and Oculus Rift, recently purchased by Facebook.

Here are some of the highlights from our GDC experience:

The morality of F2P
Free-to-play games continue to grow in number, and the way players are monetized has come under scrutiny due to what many players feel are unfair practices. During the conference, much of the F2P talk was focused on shifting people’s perception of the model by assessing whether it hinders gameplay, and the idea of using positive rewards (a.k.a. purchases as a reward) rather than negative ones, where players have to pay when they fail or to try again. But how much is too much? And how can developers still benefit from a F2P system while still keeping their players happy and engaged? The answer seems to lie in creating games that allow players to spend more time in the game without highlighting the monetization aspect of it.

How Is game publishing changing?
Publishing has undergone constant change from the days of the old big publishing houses, and that continues to be true now that developers have a wider array of options that allow them to distribute their games. Some publishers have become developers and vice-versa while most small developers have turned to app stores to find the right audience. Although none of this is breaking news, what is noteworthy in the publishing scene is that regardless of popular perception, app stores remain a small yet growing publishing segment, and there is increased consolidation in the market with companies like Tencent leading the charge (they currently own Riot and Epic games among others).

Games in the cloud
Using the cloud to develop and deploy games has been an ongoing trend for several years, and as expected, VMs have continued to become faster and more efficient in order to meet increasing demands. Currently, some cloud and hosting providers are offering specialized cloud instances whose specs may cater more strongly to game developers, while other developers are turning towards bare-metal cloud to find the performance they seek. Additionally, platforms like Unity are entering the cloud space to help developers monetize and market their games while others like Microsoft, and their newly unveiled DirectX 12, are introducing APIs to improve CPU and GPU usage.

With all the developments happening in the world of gaming, GDC was a great opportunity to interact with the gaming community and keep up to date on the latest trends.

Check out our presentation from GDC with Hi-Rez Studios, Building a Scalable Infrastructure Platform for SMITE, Global Agenda and Tribes: Ascend.

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