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Mar 7, 2018

Cloud Gaming: A Revolutionary New Streaming Option

Charles Parry

Over the last decade, we’ve seen how cloud has reshaped the gaming community. Some might remember LAN parties or internet cafes that have now been replaced by high powered servers capable of hosting hundreds of players.

Recently, cloud gaming made its next big step, Gaming as a Service.

What is Cloud Gaming

Not unlike media streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, Gaming as a Service allows users to “stream” programs directly to their PCs.

This is groundbreaking given that the majority of gamers have always been limited by hardware constraints. Only those able to afford higher priced components could enjoy playing their games in full 60fps bliss and beyond. With the introduction of 4k gaming as well, this list has only grown smaller. Cloud gaming, of course, changes this.

Who Uses Cloud Gaming

While Gaming as a Service may go by several names at its early stage, such as gaming on demand or GaaS, the basic idea is the same. The service allows gamers to essentially use their PC as the gateway to a high-end server. The games are then run off the server and streamed directly to the user’s desktop. The only requirements are a high-speed dependable internet connection and a basic desktop setup.

While this is not an entirely new concept to the community, it’s still revolutionary to the PC gaming industry in particular. Next generation consoles have been using a similar model for many of their games. In this case, a portion of the software would be downloaded to the user’s device before allowing them to play.

Another good example of this would be mobile gaming platforms such as Crowdstar that use bare-metal cloud servers to support their application. In both cases, however, cloud is used to provide a highly scalable service whereby, through big data analysis, large amounts of data are stored and streamed directly to an end user.

Why You Need to Pay Attention to Cloud Gaming

Unless you’re an avid gamer, it’s unlikely that much of this will excite you. While still in very early (and even alpha) stages, companies won’t be releasing their final products for some time. However, there are a few businesses who are standing out in this field.

For one, Nvidia is currently developing a game streaming service, GEFORCE NOW, for its device called the GRID. Small startups, such as Snoost or Vortex, are also trying to get in on the action.

The flexibility that cloud gaming creates will certainly rattle the industry, and many see this as a conceivably new industry frontier. No more updating hardware, complicated installation or configurations, game installations or software patches. This will all be done and managed by cloud gaming providers allowing gamers to just enjoy games.

Just as the service is groundbreaking, so too should be the infrastructure supporting it. Cloud technology has reached the point where this is now possible. To effectively support this growing trend, providers should be able to offer high-performance scalable cloud backed by low latency IP. INAP can provide this exact type of solution made to custom fit your specific business needs.

Hi-Rez Studios, which is highly engaged in both mobile and MMO gaming communities, fully understand this need. The studio utilizes our Cloud, Colocation and Performance IP. We provide many of our gaming customers with this type of support enabling them to push past industry limits to achieve new heights and even revolutionize their industry.

If you would like to learn more, please let us know and one of our product experts will be in touch.

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Jan 26, 2018

1.5 Billion Reasons to Care About eSports

INAP

The Rise of a Multi-Billion Dollar Online Gaming Industry.

In the late 1990s, Marcus Graham was trying to make it as a professional gamer.

Known by his gaming tag as djWHEAT, Graham would travel to LAN tournaments across the country for varying sums of prize money.

It was a tough gig. For gamers in the early days of eSports, tournaments were few and far between with limited rewards. In an interview with CNN, Graham said he would spend $1,500 and travel more than a thousand miles for a tournament where he’d only win $800.

Fast forward about 20 years and the eSports landscape has drastically changed.

Graham is now a well-known eSports commentator (he still goes by the name djWHEAT), and eSports has moved from a pipe dream of gaming enthusiasts into domestic and international leagues worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Major League Audiences and Payouts

Online gaming is now one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, with booming audiences in North and South America, Asia, and Europe.

Where other sports are generally defined by regional interests, online gaming has a major advantage. For instance, football is the most popular sport in the United States. In Europe and South America, soccer – a different kind of football – is king.

In comparison, eSports has followers all around the world, and the internet has given these fans a platform to connect and engage, which they are doing in extremely large numbers.

Consider this stat: More than 36 million people streamed the League of Legends World Championship match in 2015. That’s a larger audience than the number of people who watched Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals when LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the city’s first professional sports championship in more than 50 years.

And eSports payouts aren’t cheap. In 2017, the International Dota 2 Championship in Seattle played to packed crowds at the Key Arena. The total purse was more than 20 million dollars – approximately double the total prize money of the Masters golf tournament.

 

Growing Corporate Backing and Investment for eSports

The meteoric rise of eSports is quickly catching the eyes and pocketbooks of interested investors.

There’s no better example of this than Blizzard’s Overwatch League. Created in 2017, the league has teams based on three continents who will eventually utilize “home” arenas in their local markets. The Overwatch League has garnered support from sports icons, such as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft who recently purchased an Overwatch League franchise in Boston.

And Kraft isn’t alone. The NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers own two eSports teams, and several top European soccer clubs are also investing in online gaming.

Corporate sponsors are also taking note of the eSports phenomenon. Since the start of 2016, more than 600 sponsorship agreements have been signed (including one by INAP as the title sponsor for the 2018 Hi-Rez Expo). These sponsorships range from startups in smaller events to major corporations such as Red Bull, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola for some of the world’s most popular competitions.

The Next Steps for eSports

It won’t be long before you see colleges and universities getting on the eSports bandwagon.

In 2014, Robert Morris University – a small private institution outside of Chicago – became one of the first schools to offer eSports scholarships for League of Legends gamers. The scholarships covered up to half of tuition and room and board, adding up to about $19,000 per student.

Just three years later, gamers can earn eSports scholarships at as many as 60 universities. Most of these schools are smaller or private colleges, but the University of Utah made headlines in 2017 when it became the first university in a Power Five athletic conference to announce a varsity eSports team. The team is sponsored by the school’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering Department, which The Princeton Review consistently ranks as one of the top video game design programs in the nation.

Beyond collegiate and world championships, gamers may soon have their eyes set on a more prestigious prize. Olympic officials are expected to discuss adding eSports as a medal event at the 2024 Summer Games. There’s been no indication if the Olympic International Committee will take this proposal seriously, but if eSports is added, it would legitimize online gaming as a global sport.

The Necessary IT Backing

Competitive gaming requires significant IT resources to operate. Networking and hosting must provide reliability, high performance, low latency, and scalability to match inevitable growth. Any disruption of service during a professional tournament would be completely unacceptable.

HorizonIQ’s online gaming infrastructure is built to withstand the rigorous demands of competitive gaming. With solutions in colocation, managed hosting, cloud, and network services, INAP has provided exceptional online gaming experiences for gamers and developers around the world.

If you’re searching for high-performance IT solutions to meet your eSports or online game development needs, contact us today.

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Jan 17, 2018

5 Things We Learned at HRX 2018

INAP

There’s a lot to be excited about.

A sold-out arena. Screaming fans. The best talent in the world.

No, we’re not describing a concert or even a playoff football game – although this event definitely had the same vibe.

We’re talking about Hi-Rez Expo – an online gaming conference and eSports world championship held each year by Hi-Rez Studios. This year’s event was sponsored by INAP.

image of HRX 2018 Powered by INAP

For four days in early January, thousands of fans packed into Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre to watch the world’s best PC and console gamers battle it out for SMITE, Paladins and Hand of the Gods supremacy. Tens of thousands more fans watched the action live online.

And for the very first time this year, Hi-Rez executives held a keynote address to announce the studio’s plans for 2018 and beyond.

Here are five things we’re excited to see in the next year.

New SMITE Gods and Conquest Map

This news shouldn’t come as a surprise to SMITE gamers. Hi-Rez has been adding playable characters to its signature game on a fairly regular basis.

This year we’re seeing at least three new additions – Cerberus (a three-headed servant of Hades) and two unnamed gods from new pantheons, Slavic and Voodoo.

SMITE also revealed changes ahead of the fifth season of its pro eSports league. The conquest map is getting a makeover. Most notably, a new symmetrical design will mean that lanes and jungle paths will have the same layout, regardless of the side on which you start. Players will also notice new environmental artwork changes.

And possibly the most anticipated change for players is the return of jungle fog, which hides monsters and opposing gods from view if you have no characters in that area.

Paladins: Battlegrounds

At the beginning of the year, PC Gamer predicted more battle royale-style games in 2018.

Just days later, we’re introduced to Paladins: Battleground, a new game mode that calls itself the first hero shooter battle royale.

The game features 100 players battling to the death in a massive map that shrinks as the game progresses. Matches last for 20 minutes, during which players will team up to find weapons and kill other teams. Think Paladins meets the Hunger Games.

The best news? The new mode will be available for free to all Paladins players when it’s released later this year. And if the crowd reaction after seeing the trailer provides any indication, Paladins: Battlegrounds will quickly become a fan favorite.

Paladins Goes Mobile

Perhaps overshadowed by the Paladins: Battleground reveal was more news about the iOS and Android multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) Paladins Strike.

Fans have been testing a development version of the mobile game for a few months. Now the general public is able to sign up to try it out prior to the game’s still unannounced release date.

Bot Smashers

Speaking of mobile, Hi-Rez gave us a sneak peek at its latest game, an iOS and Android strategy battler called Bot Smashers.

The presenters didn’t share much information about this game, other than users would be controlling robots to build their own bases and destroy their opponents. One key takeaway is that Bot Smashers is all about quick gameplay so matches are intended to be short.

No word on a release date, but fans can sign up now to test the game when a development version is made available.

Nintendo Switch Rumors

There was no mention of Nintendo Switch by any of the presenters during the keynote address. But when speaking to bloggers and reporters during the event, Hi-Rez CEO Erez Goren teased a project in development to bring one of its titles to the popular Nintendo platform.

Goren would not give a definite answer, opting to just say “maybe” when asked about the plans. So for now, we’re left wondering if the studio will try to port one of its existing games (after all, SMITE and Paladins are available on Xbox One and PS4) or will be planning something new for Nintendo’s more family-friendly demographic.

Hi-Rez Studios is Powered by INAP

Without a reliable and scalable IT infrastructure, Hi-Rez Studios wouldn’t be able to host such an incredible event and seamless gaming experience.

That’s where INAP comes in. For the past 10 years, we’ve been supplying high-performance, ultra-low latency managed hosting and network solutions to keep Hi-Rez games running smoothly with no lag time. Our scalable and flexible solutions provide 100 percent uptime, even during peak periods, which keeps Hi-Rez gamers happy and coming back for more.

We can provide the same level of service and quality for you too. Contact us to learn more about INAP’s solutions to power your gaming environment.

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Jan 3, 2018

4 Online Gaming Trends You’ll See in 2018

INAP

Game On!

In the world of online gaming, 2017 brought its own surprises, accomplishments and achievements.

From the explosion in eSports participation and viewing to growth in virtual and augmented reality gaming, 2017 set many of the trends that will likely continue to grow in the new year.

Here are four patterns you need to pay attention to in 2018.

1. The Growth of eSports Leagues

The first trend is incredible growth in eSports and eSports leagues.

What was once a pipe dream of gamers has become a multimillion-dollar industry. In fact, industry experts predict that eSports could generate more than one billion dollars by 2020.

Hi-Rez Studios runs one of the more successful eSports leagues and championships for its popular SMITE game. Now in Season 4, the SMITE Pro League includes teams from around the world competing on both PCs and consoles. Every match is streamed live on the internet, and fans have the option of purchasing season passes which grant them access to see every event.

Each season ends with the world championships at the Hi-Rez Expo held annually in Atlanta, which also includes competitions for Paladins and Hand of the Gods. (Shameless plug: INAP is the title sponsor at this year’s event.)

With more eSports leagues and competitions on the way, 2018 will likely see further increases in audiences, revenue and market share.

2. Virtual and Augmented Reality

The next trend is a continued push toward virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology.

While the initial buzz and hype behind VR have begun to subside, several publishers and manufacturers are making significant strides towards bringing the technology to a wider market through increased investment and more content.

And while still small by standards of the wider video game industry, VR technology continues to move into expanded markets and has sales figures to prove it. Oculus’s Gear VR recently shipped over five million units, and the PlayStation VR sold more than a million headsets in less than a year.

While developers continue to experiment with creative ways to implement VR into gaming, it’s more likely we’ll see advancements in AR technology in the next year. There hasn’t been a major AR gaming breakthrough since 2016’s Pokémon Go (Remember when everyone was running around your neighborhood trying to catch digital creatures?), but retailers have discovered unique ways to add AR into the consumer experience. In fact, IKEA has been doing it for years.

Since AR does not require the use of expensive equipment like headsets nor the need for as significant an investment compared to VR, it’s just a matter of time before an AR developer comes up with the next big online or mobile gaming sensation.

3. Diversity and Inclusion

Boys aren’t the only ones playing video games. More than 40 percent of all gamers in the U.S. are female, and this change in audience is being reflected on the screen.

More games are being developed that feature minorities, women and other underrepresented communities. We Are Chicago has earned critical praise for its unique storyline and depiction of an African-American growing up in the city’s South Side. Nintendo Switch’s highly anticipated Seasons of Heaven will tackle unique character viewpoints in a puzzle adventure game based on a protagonist with Asperger syndrome. And writers revealed in an Overwatch comic series that popular character Tracer is gay.

Expect this diversity and inclusion trend to continue in 2018 as an audience eager for roles that no longer play on stereotypes is influencing publishers and developers to craft stories that include more voices and perspectives than ever before.

4. Make Way for Indie Game Developers

Independent game publishers and studios are expected to take a big step in 2018. Independent game makers have been on the rise for the last several years, but their growth has accelerated with new trends and technology sharing to foster a democratization of game development.

One of the top reasons independent game makers can compete with industry giants is due to digital downloads. Independents create and publish games without being forced to make deals necessary to secure shelf space in retail stores. This has leveled the playing field and allowed smaller game makers to sell directly to their consumers and target audiences.

And it appears to be working, as more games are published every year. A 2016 study of all the games on Steam ­– a digital distribution store for online games – revealed nearly 40 percent of available titles on the service were released that year.

Full Speed Ahead in 2018

As the world of online gaming moves into 2018, the industry will move to adapt to its changing circumstances and environment. But some things will remain the same.

At the heart of every online gaming experience is a powerful and robust infrastructure that gives gamers a seamless adventure with no lag. Contact INAP today to learn how our high-performance IT infrastructure solutions and data center services can provide your users an optimal gameplay experience with low latency, even during peak periods.

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Jul 15, 2015

Gaming news: Esports and the SMITE World Championship 2016

Ansley Kilgore

SmiteThe popularity of esports shows no signs of slowing down. The staying power of this fledgling industry is evidenced by an influx of investors, including venture capital firms and household names like Mark Cuban. Earnings for esports tournaments are now higher than some global professional sports.

Below is a collection of articles that covers everything from an “esports 101” lesson to the upcoming SMITE World Championship hosted by Hi-Rez Studios.

Esports: The world’s biggest spectacle you’ve never heard of

Never heard of esports? ESPN viewership for the 2014 League of Legends championship exceeded 27 million people. That’s more than game seven of last year’s baseball World Series (23.5 million viewers) and the deciding game of 2014’s NBA Finals (18 million). As prize money for video game tournaments continues to grow, professional gaming is becoming a viable way to make a living. Read the article here.

Esports: The Future of entertainment

Before you laugh at the notion that millions of people are sitting around watching others play video games, let’s take a look at the numbers. Esports earnings outrank the Super Bowl, Wimbledon and the UEFA Cup. In the near future, investment in this industry will increase from tens of millions to billions of dollars simply because of viewership. Twitch.tv, an online service that hosts live video broadcasts of people playing video games, was acquired by Amazon for $970 million. With over 12 billion minutes watched per month last year, Twitch has already eclipsed Fox Sports, NFL Network and even Amazon’s Instant Video Service. Read the article here.

Smite’s new plan to take its players pro

As Atlanta-based Hi-Rez Studios prepares for the 2016 SMITE World Championship, the popular gaming company has capped prize money at $1 million. Distributing the prize pool over several major events will create a more stable professional scene for the popular MOBA game, according to Todd Harris, COO of Hi-Rez Studios. This approach will also help new teams emerge onto the scene and give more gamers – not just top performers – the opportunity to earn a decent living doing what they love. Read article here.

Hi-Rez announces Smite Xbox One invitational alongside SWC 2016

The Smite World Championships 2016 marks the arrival of MOBA eSports on console. The event will include a PC and Xbox One tournament when it returns to Atlanta’s Cobb Performing Arts Centre on January 7-10, 2016. The championships, now renamed Smite World Championship Presented By Xbox One, will test players of the original PC title and the Xbox One version, which is currently in open beta. The Smite Xbox One Invitational will bring together four top teams from the game’s emerging Xbox One competitive scene, competing for a total prize pool of $150,000. Read the article here.

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Jun 25, 2015

News from the gaming front: E3 2015

Ansley Kilgore

E3 2015The video game world witnessed some groundbreaking announcements during the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 2015 event in Los Angeles last week.
We’ve compiled news highlights from the show to keep you informed on the latest happenings in the video game industry.

E3 2015: Five Days in LA that Left Gamers Stunned

E3 presented new console and PC games, including the next FIFA game, which was introduced by the world’s most famous footballer, Pele. As expected, this year’s event included a large focus on virtual reality (VR) technology, with Ubisoft and Sony making heavy investments in VR titles. However, few VR games were readily available for play, which will presumably change in the near future when new VR headsets hit the market. Read entire article here.

Virtual Reality is Finally Growing Up

The virtual reality headsets on display at E3 included some expected household names, as well as other game publishers that have risen to the challenge. The Morpheus VR headset from Sony PlayStation and the Oculus Rift headset are both anticipated to be released in first quarter 2016. As part of the PlayStaion console ecosystem, Morpheus has a well-established distribution mechanism, and the Rift headset requires a powerful PC. Additional headsets were unveiled from Fove Inc., Starbreeze and others. Read entire article here.

HoloLens Brings 3D Media Into the Physical World

What could be more fascinating than virtual reality? Augmented reality. Specifically, Microsoft’s Hololens demo that populates the user’s surroundings with holographic images that look real. The Minecraft Hololens demo stole the show at E3, making digital objects appear as part of your field of vision. Microsoft hasn’t announced a definite release date at this time, but Hololens could be available in fourth quarter of this year. Read entire article here.

These Are the 10 Most Promising Games of E3 2015

The E3 show is large enough for everyone, not just the big game publishers with seemingly unlimited budgets. While Microsoft, Sony and other huge names may get most of the spotlight, here’s a top ten list of awesome games that didn’t get as much attention. Read entire article here.

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Mar 11, 2015

GDC 2015: Gaming industry trends

INAP

Internap team at GDCIt’s time for our annual GDC wrap up! We were back at this year’s conference in San Francisco last week to learn about the state of the industry and listen to both large and small developers discuss their online infrastructure needs. Just like last year, we hosted our own session: “Learn from the pros: building fast, massively scalable games,” which included a great panel of industry leaders consisting of Steward Chisam (Hi-Rez Studios), Haitham Rowley (Square-Enix) and Tachu Avila (Crowdstar). Look for it on the GDC vault in a few weeks.

At GDC 2015, there was a lot to experience both on the show floor, and during the diverse conference sessions. Here are some big takeaways:

A VR Explosion
Walking down the show floor this year, you could quickly see that VR was well represented. From cool new VR demos (especially the double light saber demo courtesy of Sixense) to new VR headsets (from Sony’s and Valve’s to the fun Google Cardboard), VR was almost everywhere you looked. And the lines for the Oculus demo were just as long as last year!

Broadening Audiences
Twitch.tv has been growing in popularity for a while, and the fact that a lot of players learn about new games through the service has made Twitch a valuable marketing tool. Recently, many players have begun using Twitch to see their favorite streamers review new games, expansions or patches, using them for pre-purchase research instead of traditional game journalism. This new-found audience will definitely encourage other streaming providers to jump in, which in turn will increase the demand for high-performance networks and Content Delivery Networks (CDN).

Big Data and Analytics
Throughout the conference, there were many sessions devoted to understanding your audience better through behavioral analytics. Common questions included: Who buys your games? Why do they start (or stop) playing? How many sessions do they play? There were good discussions about the scalable infrastructure required to handle data from a growing player base, including high-performance cloud solutions needed for Hadoop deployments. I was surprised that other solutions for resource-intensive use cases (like bare-metal servers) were not brought up more often. Another analytical tool that has become popular in the industry is Tableau, which is used to analyze and draw conclusions from player’s activity and purchase behavior.

The state of Free to Play
What about F2P? Last year there was a bigger emphasis on the morality of F2P, while this year the focus was on different strategies to monetize players. That’s not to say the user experience should always come second, since most developers by now realize that pay gates (where only paying players can enjoy the full experience) are not well-received. In-game ads were widely talked about as speakers highlighted the importance of recognizing how and when to use ads, as well as the pitfalls of overusing them to the point they hinder the experience. Another takeaway was that developers should not underestimate the value of nonpaying gamers, since they bring others through word of mouth, help maintain a healthy community and may transition to paying customers with time.

Managing your Traffic
One of the biggest challenges developers face is providing a seamless experience for their players, with low load times, a stable connection and as little lag as possible. While discussing that SMITE is coming to consoles (to Xbox One specifically), Hi-Rez Studios shone some light on how they handle their traffic. Currently Hi-Rez uses a mix of bare-metal servers and cloud to handle their typical day-to-day traffic (around 84% and 16% respectively). However, during events or times when a high number of players is expected, Hi-Rez switches to a higher percentage of cloud, allowing the cloud’s flexibility and scalability to successfully accommodate the incoming traffic.

That’s all for now. For more information about Internap’s gaming solutions, check out our gaming resources, scalable media streaming solution and the ParStream report on database performance. GDC was fun and we learned a lot, looking forward to next year!

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Mar 6, 2015

GDC 2015 news roundup

Ansley Kilgore

Arena_V2_Promo_Shot_2The online gaming industry saw several big announcements during this year’s Game Developer’s Conference. Here are some GDC 2015 news highlights to keep you in the know.

GDC 2015: SMITE Alpha Launching on Xbox One Next Week

Hi-Rez Studio’s third-person MOBA, SMITE, will be available next week for some Xbox One players. The console version will enter Alpha on March 11, and codes will be available at the Hi-Rez booth during PAX East 2015. Get behind-the-scenes information about SMITE and meet the developers in the new show, “IGN Godlike.” This week, Hi-Rez Studios stops by to discuss SMITE’s past, present, and future, including the game experience on Xbox One.
Read entire article here.

Games dominate App Annie’s annual list of top-grossing app publishers

App Annie provides reports that focus specifically on gaming, and many game publishers made the list of 52 top-grossing apps for 2014, which is interesting because many mobile games are free-to-play. Game companies dominated App Annie’s list of the top-grossing app publishers for both iOS and Android in 2014. Of the top 10, all were either publishers or had dipped into gaming in some manner.
Read entire article here.

‘Dragon Quest Heroes’ To Receive A Western Release

Square Enix has announced that they are finally bringing Dragon Quest Heroes to the West on PS4. While the series never took off outside of Japan the same way Final Fantasy did, Heroes is arguably one of the most culturally important game series ever created. This new Dragon Quest-themed action role-playing game was developed by the team behind the Dynasty Warriors games. Read entire article here.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Wins Game of the Year at GDC Awards

The 15th annual Game Developers Choice Awards and the 2015 Independent Games Festival were held in San Francisco as part of this year’s Game Developers Conference. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor won overall Game of the Year at the Game Developers Choice Awards, while Out of Wilds took home the Seumas McNally Grand Prize award at the Independent Games Festival awards.
Read entire article here.

Watch: Five Key Considerations for Online Gaming Infrastructure

Image courtesy of Hi-Rez Studios

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Mar 28, 2014

GDC 2014: Trends in the online gaming industry

INAP

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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May 21, 2013

Bare-metal cloud accelerates online gaming

Ansley Kilgore

Hi-Rez Studios Case Study  LogoBare-metal cloud has helped Hi-Rez Studios achieve higher economic efficiencies and superior online gaming performance.

Have you ever wondered how online gaming companies meet end user demands for high performance and low latency? Fast-paced MMOGs have unique challenges regarding IT Infrastructure, and providing an exceptional user experience is critical. During a global launch, your new game could see a huge influx of users, and providing a high-quality gaming experience depends largely on scalability and performance.

As the winner of the Technology Association of Georgia’s 2012 Excalibur Award, Hi-Rez Studios uses Internap’s bare-metal cloud to efficiently achieve an exceptional user experience. Located just outside Atlanta, Hi-Rez requires a scalable, secure and reliable technology platform to support their growing needs. Successful online gaming infrastructure is composed of several factors, including low latency, the best network and the most efficient route.

Download the complete Hi-Rez Studios case study here.

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