Before the previous decade ended, the gaming world saw the start of a huge focus on cloud gaming. At the forefront of this shift are big-name mergers and acquisitions, endeavors undertaken to tap into the industry’s revenue stream.
Facebook, for instance, bought PlayGiga in December 2019. It’s a cloud gaming firm that mainly operates in Europe and South America. In the same month, Google acquired Typhoon Studios to boost their foray into cloud gaming through their Stadia platform. It was a logical move on their part considering the massive growth of the cloud gaming industry. Its market was valued at USD 152 million in 2019, a figure expected to skyrocket to USD 6.3 billion by 2024. It’s a trend that resulted in an ongoing race to develop quality games that rely on cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud databases are integral parts of these projects.
But just how do game developers use these tools? Continue on below to learn more.
Account Verification and Security
Since a lot of games are built to run partially or fully on the cloud, logins and session data monitoring are heavily reliant on cloud databases. Research by Uppsala University in Sweden shows a sample DynamoDB application with the use of column-based data manipulation. Columns can contain usernames and passwords, as well as player information, including character name and current map or zone in-game.
Stored objects in cloud databases can go down to the tiniest of details. All sorts of data – everything from the specific color of an NPC’s hair to coordinates in a dungeon – can be logged, stored, and retrieved in a cloud database. Game developers can set up assets to run in databases built on regional cloud servers. This is to ensure that object delivery is more reliable.
Devs can employ strategies like sharding and replication to guarantee the availability and delivery of objects, especially when working with large-scale games. MongoDB outlines that database sharding is one way to break down large datasets for distribution among multiple database instances. Meanwhile, replication is the use of multiple servers to hold the same data. This way, when one of the regional servers experiences challenges, others can pick up the pace to retain a game’s performance.
Latency and Consistency
Latency and consistency are especially crucial for high-speed, connectivity-persistent games. Take for example Overwatch 2, which relies on online queueing and matchmaking. We also covered Splatoon 3 and how players need access to a Nintendo Switch Online account to enjoy the game. To address these needs, developers take advantage of the innate characteristics of cloud databases, such as 99.99% uptime and speedy performance. These attributes allow them to create games that can run smoothly even with intensive data processing requirements.
Other notable aspects that benefit from consistency are player interaction and game collaboration. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are heavily dependent on this property. The published paper ‘Cloud-based Persistence Services for MMORPGs’ discussed the importance of synchronicity when processing changes of state data during player interaction and collaboration. Account and state data are held in databases, and if cloud versions are used for the project, updates to the information can be more consistent.
The South Korean firm Gamepub experienced the advantages of cloud databases firsthand and explained how they used the platform for game maintenance. The improved flexibility in scheduling patches and updates eliminated the need for two maintenance periods annually.
Devs can also let cloud database providers handle ad hoc tasks like disk management and input/output operations per second) optimization. Shifting attention away from repeatable tasks lets them focus more on polishing their games or getting time for other projects.
The gaming industry has its fair share of titles that experienced sudden growth. A popular example is Among Us which reached 60 million active players per day at the height of the COVID pandemic. Such demand inevitably required the devs to scale up fast to accommodate load surges without sacrificing performance. Cloud databases can be fully managed, which means increasing total capacity can be achieved quickly and smoothly.
To sum it up, game developers use different strategies tied to cloud databases to improve their projects from multiple points. Speed, security, reliability, operational continuity, and load flexibility are all essential for gaming, aspects to which cloud databases can contribute greatly.