The meteoric rise of the gaming sector over the last decade has been impressive to watch. Emerging as one of the most lucrative in the world, the gaming sector’s influence spans consoles, mobiles, PC and even cloud, blossoming into a highly competitive professional sport, with teams, tournaments and fans aplenty.
And while there are myriad factors contributing to the success of a game – engaging gameplay, enchanting storylines, a sense of community, intense competition, and more – there’s one important element that’s often less talked about: how the game gets into the hands and screens of gamers and the network on which it’s distributed.
Like any modern technology, network infrastructure and internet connectivity form the backbone of the experience – and that’s true for gaming as well. Poor connections mean lag and disruptions, and with the speed and convenience of tech in 2020, nobody wants to wait hours as their new game downloads.
To better understand the relationship between game performance and network infrastructure, and how to master it, Telstra recently published a white paper titled The Key to Making Games Successful: Your Network Infrastructure. The content was developed in collaboration with Niko Partners, a U.S.-based gaming market intelligence firm that focuses predominantly on the Asian games market.
The growth of the gaming industry
This all comes at a time when the global games industry is enjoying unprecedented growth. As the white paper describes, over the last decade gaming has grown to represent one of the largest consumer media markets in the world, with global revenue of $146 billion in 2019 (Niko Partners).
There are over 2.5 billion gamers globally, forecast to reach 2.7 billion in the next two years, with about 60 percent in Asia where 2019 revenue hit $69 billion (Niko Partners).
The Asia region alone boasts 1.5 billion gamers, 720 million of whom are based in China. In Asia, gaming has become a key part of the culture, and for many households it is the primary form of entertainment. For game developers and esports companies, the opportunity is considerable, but mastering the network remains the critical and most often overlooked step.
How telecom plays a role in each stage of the game development lifecycle
The white paper also provides a roadmap that gaming and esports companies can use to identify where, when and how telecommunications companies, providers, or partners play a role in the lifecycle of a game, from conceptualisation and production to public release, to live services and updates, all the way to the sold out arena’s watching teams battling to win League of Legends.
As the white paper highlights, those entering the industry (or even those that have been in the industry for a while) need to plan early for executing and maintaining the network infrastructure for their game(s) by building a roadmap that coincides with the traditional game development timeline. The journey for establishing a successful gaming network goes through several pivotal stages:
- Developing a game from conceptualisation to production
- Launching a game to the public
- Expanding and broadening a game’s availability and keeping players engaged
- Streaming, broadcasting and watching individual gameplay and esports tournaments
Why one of the biggest gaming companies in the world selected Telstra as its primary Asia-Pacific network infrastructure partner
As an example of what we mean in stage three above, Telstra started working with one of the biggest gaming companies in the world in 2017 with the goal of building up its network infrastructure backbone in Asia. This would help maintain low latency, high performance connectivity and ultimately deliver an incredible experience for players of the company’s globally ubiquitous game, as well as help bring the game to new users.
As the owner of one of the largest subsea and IP networks in the Asia, Telstra had the infrastructure and local expertise to deliver on these goals. Two years later, this gaming company has reorganised its entire network to use Telstra as its primary gateway into and within Asia-Pacific.
Telstra now carries 80 percent of that company’s backbone traffic between the U.S. and Asia, and 60 percent of its IP transit network traffic in the Asia-Pacific region. The scope of Telstra’s network also helps this company identify and eliminate single points of failure, preventing mission-critical network outages. This is particularly important in Asia where subsea cable cuts (due to a high concentration of shipping routes, natural disasters, etc.) can be somewhat frequent.
Great network infrastructure may not be the sexiest part of making a great game, but it may just be one of the most vital. The The Key to Making Games Successful: Your Network Infrastructure whitepaper highlights just how imperative it is that games companies actively work with telecommunications partners early in the development phase to ensure everything they’ve worked so hard on goes off without a hitch, keeping gamers coming back for more, and setting the industry up for continued success.