Mar 28, 2013

Support multi-region game launch initiatives with colocation

Ansley Kilgore

Apterra global connectivityToday’s online game developers face an increasingly global marketplace that is no longer restricted to just a few prominent regions. As consumers around the world embrace online video games, developers and publishers must deliver games to a variety of regions at launch. This presents a wide range of logistical and technological challenges which can be resolved with colocation services.

Considering the dynamics of a multi-region launch
A console generation or so ago, most games were released in Japan, nearby parts of Asia, the United States and, to a lesser extent, in the rest of North America. In the past decade, activity has increased in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia, where video games long held a place in the subculture but are now prominent. People in South America and even parts of the Middle East and Africa have also embraced video games to some degree. Within the span of 10 or 20 years, the video game industry has progressed from a popular type of toy that represented a cultural niche in the developed world to a universal mainstream media. As a result, game publishers must take a global approach to releasing new games.

When games were mostly a niche in much of the world, and released on disks or cartridges, games would often release at different times in various areas to spread out the burden. For example, a title may hit store shelves in Japan in May and become available in the United States at the end of June. With the rise of online video games and a global video game marketplace, these kind of delays are not as feasible. It is possible to restrict game use based on the location of a user to stagger the release, which is still done in some cases, but video game enthusiasts increasingly expect a game to be launched simultaneously, or close to it, around the world.

Making a multi-region launch possible in an era where almost every game includes online content, regardless of whether it’s hosted on the web, hinges on having web servers in geographically diverse locations to support solid performance in a variety of markets. Establishing multiple global data centers can be a major cost burden. Managing the logistics of each data center system, localizing the services and distributing the workforce properly can also be difficult. Turning to a colocation provider can be the answer, especially since scalability is a critical factor when releasing a new game.

Using colocation to support global release processes
Colocation eases the burden of a global game release by allowing developers and publishers to host content in third-party data centers located around the world. As a result, they do not have to invest in the actual facility space and instead can simply purchase the infrastructure they need, configure it and let it work to support end-user functionality. Many colocation vendors also offer managed services as an option, alleviating the various maintenance challenges of handling a distributed data center architecture.

Having services available in a variety of locations is necessary to support a global game release because distance can contribute to latency. Furthermore, spreading out the work load can balance performance and ensure enough space for gamers trying to find a server that works for them. Supporting this kind of infrastructure without the help of a third-party service vendor can be an overwhelming challenge, but colocation offers a cost-effective solution to the global launch of online games.

To learn more, download our white paper, Five Considerations for Building Online Gaming Infrastructure.

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Ansley Kilgore

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