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DevOps in E-Gaming: Case Studies

12.04.2021
DevOps in E-Gaming: Case Studies
DevOps in E-Gaming: Case Studies
After years of DevOps overhauls, big companies such as BMW, Optum, and Starbucks have embarked on a digital transformation journey. Now, DevOps is conquering the world of e-gaming. Read on to find out how businesses benefit from implementing DevOps practices.

How Does the Gaming Industry Use DevOps?

The video game industry has been thriving during quarantine - sales and audience are growing. A lot of investors are interested in this growth. Large corporations, including Microsoft and Amazon, are now actively investing in the development of VR/AR technologies which can bring the gaming industry to a new level.
source: Statista

Another technology that is being actively used to leverage the video game industry is DevOps.

The most important feature that DevOps practices grant to any e-gaming platform is the ability to grow rapidly. Any new game should be prepared for an increase in users in the future. For instance, the ultra-popular game Pokémon Go has encountered an incredibly high influx of users. As a result, their IT infrastructure optimization and maintenance costs increased by ten times in just one week. Surely, the company wouldn't have been able to handle that without a cloud and a reliable set of development practices.

Thus, implementing DevOps can bring the following pros to the video game industry:

  1. Scaling: initially, when building an e-gaming system, you need to keep in mind that it has to be able to scale promptly. With DevOps, it is possible at the click of a button.

  2. Multiple environment support: companies should grant their developers the possibility to test the code before it goes into production. Test automation is possible with the DevOps approach on board.

  3. High-availability: the game should be equally available to all users at any time.

  4. Zero downtime deployment: CI/CD methods allow you to deploy multiple environments and roll out changes without triggering downtime for gamers (meaning that gamers themselves decide when to update the game).

  5. Security: since companies work with users' personal data, they should ensure its protection. The infrastructure should be built with a focus on best security practices, which is easily achievable with DevOps.
Without DevOps practices at hand, it is almost impossible to handle high traffic on a server. Pokémon Go managed its success through the help of AWS services. The Pokémon Company had to become a tech company overnight to comply with the rules for protecting children's online privacy. In order to scale and keep on top of security requirements, the company opted to use AWS services and managed to upscale its business:

"Using Amazon Aurora, we went from 300 nodes to 30, and we are no longer paying for database licenses. Our monthly database cost has dropped by tens of thousands of dollars each month." — Jeff Webb, development manager at The Pokémon Company International.

Scaling via Cloud

In online games, reaction speed is critical. In just a second, one can miss the enemy or miss a turn in a race. Many of today's modern games boast incredibly detailed 3D graphics which can put a huge strain on devices. The solution? Expensive computers, laptops, or consoles to keep games from freezing during those crucial moments. To keep up with the latest system requirements, gamers need to keep their equipment up to date, and this is before even considering VR or AR games!

Additionally, the number of clients on the server is constantly changing. Regardless of whether the service is local or global, there will always be a flow of users at one time and an outflow at another. To optimize costs, it is recommended to use auto-scaling to adjust to the required load and save money at times when there are no users on the site. This is only possible in the cloud. Once you purchase the necessary equipment and place it in data centers, it will not be an option to refuse resource usage because you will have already paid for it.

Cloud gaming allows gamers to launch computer games on remote servers and not on the user's device. This works according to the streaming model: the server transmits audio and video streams, and the user controls the character from his device. Cloud streaming allows users to launch even large-scale games on regular laptops and smartphones. The game infrastructure itself runs on a powerful remote server. The user controls the character from his device.
    Sony PlayStation Now, Google Stadia, and Nvidia GeForce Now are cloud gaming drivers. These services create demand and accustom millions of players to cloud gaming.

    Cloud gamers do not need to constantly spend money on expensive computer upgrades to meet the latest requirements of the gaming industry. The most voluminous games can be launched with minimal latency from any device - even a TV.

    For cloud services to work, you need powerful remote servers. Some providers include HP, Dell, Cisco, IBM, and Lenovo. These servers work on powerful processors, like NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, and Arm. Soon, users themselves will also be able to make money on cloud gaming. Those who already have a gaming computer will be able to share their power through cloud services or providers - as miners do in the cryptocurrency industry.
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    Internet Speed

    As of today, the most important thing for cloud gaming is the user's Internet speed. The required level of quality when transmitting a video stream can only be provided by fast and stable Internet.

    Back in 2010, when the first cloud gaming service entered the market, the average Internet speed was only 4.7 Mbps. In the past 10 years, the average Internet speed has increased to 135 Mbps (in the US). In the near future, 5G will be introduced all over the world, which will increase the speed of the Internet another 20 times.

    OpsWorks E-Gaming Use Cases

    Implementing a large-scale project on the cloud has multiple advantages, like unlimited access for users, cost reduction, test automation, and scalability of the server. It's worth keeping in mind, though, that companies can also achieve these through other approaches. Both Torn and Runitonce utilize their own equipment resources. Let's take a closer look at them.

      Torn has thousands of active players around the globe. The game's infrastructure is located on its own data center equipment, so ensuring high availability was an important task for our team. The gamer should have the ability to connect and stay online at any time - this is the most crucial feature that any game should provide for its users. Service interruptions are inadmissible.

      So, it is necessary that the gaming infrastructure be built in such a way that it resolves possible problems of duplicating network connections and certain components of the infrastructure. This ensures high availability of services.

      Runitones uses multiple data centers: its infrastructure servers are located in two different data centers. On top of the servers, there is a virtualization system VMware. VMware has created virtual networks on which applications are deployed using CI/CD systems. There are two different connection channels and load balancer equipment which is guided at the nearest or available at that time data center. Due to this, the company has achieved high availability.

      The load balancer is equipment for client traffic entry points which allocates them according to internal rules into one or another data center. The graph below portrays the two-level load balancing in the cloud.
      source: researchgate

      Runitonce still uses hosting since it's cheaper due to their predictable traffic. Their client base is predetermined so the power necessary to deliver services has already been established.

      Note: you can opt to use hosting only if your traffic is predictable. In other cases, it is better to use the cloud.

      However, if traffic changes or the game grows to meteoric success, they will have to switch to the cloud to keep up with the hype. Cloud-based infrastructure provides multiple benefits:

      • cost savings
      • increased safety
      • scalability
      • quality control
      • disaster recovery
      • automatic software updates
      • test automation.

      DevOps for Game Development and Testing

      The creation of games is always difficult because the expected result should be an impeccable experience, even for those who transcend established limits. DevOps practices promote this purpose, as while its structure is intended to eliminate redundant manual actions to improve team coordination and activity, it nevertheless reduces the number of errors that can lead to startup failure.

      DevOps is a development process culture. This includes numerous points: how you prioritize, what technologies you use, and how you interact with customers. The goal of DevOps is to deliver a quality product as quickly as possible. It allows you to identify problems much earlier and solve them even at the development stage. The sooner you identify the error, the less time you will spend fixing it. This means that your company will save resources, time, server capacity, etc.

      With DevOps, all stages of product development fire simultaneously because the structure of all communications and development is aimed exactly at this. It would be correct to say that DevOps is not the final clearly defined goal, it is a movement along which the whole company is moving. This is the way to develop games.

      Final Word

      Why do companies need DevOps practices? To survive, grow and develop in the modern world. The technology is changing, and so are its users. Customers demand new and different experiences every day, therefore, frequent releases, regular hypothesis tests, quick customer feedback, and regular adjustments are crucial for a company to survive. This is the best way to ensure that you have the largest number of satisfied customers.

      If you want to scale your business with a reliable and efficient infrastructure, OpsWorks Co. is at your service! Our main expertise is DevOps: we take the best practices from the market and use them to help companies grow! OpsWorks will also look after your system once DevOps is onboard. With us, full-cycle DevOps solutions and services are guaranteed!
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