Often gaming becomes unfair with ping spikes and laggy servers, however another important factor can be improper content delivery network(CDN). Right from the launch of the game to ensuring a seamless gaming experience throughout, CDNs become an indispensable part of the digital gaming experience.
What is CDN?
It is that technology arrangement which helps in seamless gameplay without any obstruction. To simplify it Limelight Networks director Ashwin Rao shares that, “No gamer wants to face a technical snag during gameplay. Even a brief delay of 1 second can translate into a player’s eventual defeat in first-person shooter games. So, it barely comes as a surprise when Indian gamers consistently cite ‘Fast Performance’ as the most sought-after feature…” In addition to that, he believes ‘fast performance’ is ranked above the critical aspects of the game which includes simple gameplay, interesting storyline, and the ability to play offline. Heavier the graphics of a game requires more efficient network to play games seamlessly. “A CDN also provides the needed bandwidth to handle unexpected surges in user activity. It is undoubtedly one of the most crucial elements in online gaming,”he added.
One can primarily equip their game with advanced, interactive applications and features. A good CDN with edge compute speeds delivery of game assets and eliminates the need of such applications to be processed at the data center. “It can handle their requests closer to the end-user via edge computing for the best possible performance. CDNs can, moreover, detect a device, its operating system, and the prevailing network conditions. Then, it extends the most optimal content format to prevent scenarios of glitches and delays,”he added.
Long-distance transmissions can lead to data latency. For example, if the data center is in India, any player sitting in Europe might experience a delay of a second or two in transmission. This delay can also be longer depending on the infrastructure that is being used. A CDN tries to eliminate such challenges with their own network of fibre cables. This network circumvents the public internet to avoid network congestion.
Benefits of CDN
According to Rao here are the various advantages of incorporating modern CDNs:
Fast Downloads: One of the most frustrating aspects of gameplay are the slow downloads. Constant buffering and abrupt streaming of graphics or animation kill the gaming experience. The issue is successfully tackled by CDNs.
Simplified Video sharing and streaming video delivery: CDNs allow live video, web objects, and game files to transcode the content into the right formats for different devices. It enables the delivery of game videos across the world on virtually any device or platform without the need for additional encoders or other specialized equipment.
The Cloud Advantage: Apart from delivering the content to the user, advanced CDNs also offer storage and DDoS protection services from the cloud. The duplication of content on the servers safeguards the developer against synchronized attacks or making large capital investments to strengthen physical infrastructure.
Better Monetisation: A CDN can prove beneficial for video game publishers to generate good revenues for their products. It enables full monetization of a game’s assets with scalable, high capacity delivery of beta, gold copy, or Downloadable Content (DLC) which is similar to an expansion copy.
Secure Delivery of Content: By opting from a range of security features that include geo-fencing, SSL, DDoS attack mitigation, and others, a gaming website or platform can ensure a secured game delivery throughout the networks.
“A modern CDN eliminates the bottlenecks, improves responsiveness and supports a large number of players. The result is a growing audience of happy gamers that enjoy faster downloads of game updates and a more responsive gameplay during game action. The files, video and audio that make the game exciting are quickly accessible due to edge caching and distributed origin storage. Transfer across the network can be dramatically faster if the CDN has a private backbone. Lively game response and performance also depend on direct peering connection between the user’s ISP and the CDN, giving CDNs with 1,000 or more direct peering connections a distinct advantage. A large CDN can absorb security threats, and add-ons like DDoS and WAF protection strengthen the network. The latest trend, integrated edge compute, lets game companies provide further game excitement by reducing latency and adding innovation,”he emphasised.
Gaming platforms deploying a CDN directly enhances the value proposition of the platform. It helps them to serve higher loads without any performance-related challenge. This impacts profitability along with user retention. It is observed that user attrition triggers a domino effect for the gaming platforms. “A labyrinthine global network of data centres, proxy servers, and proprietary solutions are deployed by industry-leading CDNs to cater to the request each user of a gaming platform. It extends the most optimal experience to its entire user base, irrespective of the location or the device that the gamers are using,” he added.
Here is a case study which Rao shared how CDN helped a gaming brand like Nintendo to improve there content :
Nintendo Entertainment systems provide high-performance gaming and entertainment experiences to fans on their game consoles and branded websites. As ambassadors of many of the Nintendo video games, Mario and Luigi welcomed visitors to the Nintendo Europe websites. The task to make these fan-favorites come alive on Nintendo’s European web pages imposed a major challenge for them.
“The content was not up to date or did not share the same smooth and intuitive experience that their gaming consoles delivered. The web pages loaded slowly and had an abrupt video integration that gave the company no control over their own content. The impending issues before Nintendo were video content management; content storage – what happens on upload, how are videos transcoded, stored and archived; to improve SEO to increase the number of website visitors; and to ensure interruption and latency-free high-quality viewing experience for the users.”
Nintendo when accessed LVP (Limelight Video Platform) gave it opened tools for video content management and transmission for them. The content delivery service integrates into their existing content management system to resolve their issues. This is what it did:
The CDN provides the game publisher with the correct video format in accordance with the requesting device such as browser, PC, or mobile.
With stable video streams and direct connections with over 1,000 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) worldwide, Nintendo is able to cater to a significantly larger audience in one go.
Metadata can be easily entered and has also enabled managing different language versions easily.
SEO rankings can be easily tracked leveraging CDN’s AI-driven SEO tools and give insight to the number of website visitors.
The Limelight Networks ensures that the brand is consistently displayed on the company’s player, even if the video is sourced through third-party pages.
The CDN’s cloud-based solution has eliminated the need for additional expenditure on infrastructure to store its video or deliver them.