You may think that any CDN (Content Delivery Network) is suitable for game content transfer, but it’s actually not so. Theoretically, any CDN can deliver your game content from server to browser, though the efficiency won’t be the same. Positive game experience is based on the quality of download, and here’s why.
Packages of game downloads are pretty big: the average size of an asset has greatly increased over the past decade, and continues to grow with development of 4K and Ultra HD resolution games.
It’s not only downloadable versions that are growing bigger – some boxed PC games also come with massive post-installation downloads. For instance, you may need 7 DVDs to install the boxed version of GTA5, which will also require 5 Gb more for a patch that should be downloaded in order to play. Batman Arkham Knight comes with a huge 30 Gb post-installation download before the player can actually enjoy the game. So even if you spend time installing all those games from discs, boxed PC games will still require additional downloading in many cases.
Therefore, you need a solid plan to satisfy your game’s delivery need and reach success. It’s not enough just to have any CDN network – you should figure out the right CDN, a game-friendly CDN.
Are you really that fast?
Every content delivery network claims to be quick, but the speed is not the only aspect for the success of deployment. You should know where exactly your CDN service is fast: this is a crucial question for overall performance. For example you can work with a CDN provider who guarantees exceptional delivery in North America, but doesn’t serve content well in Asia. Alternatively, you can order a CDN that delivers rapidly in Europe, but not so fast in South America. Either situation can leave serious potential problems. That’s why it’s important to understand the details behind every CDN solution. Otherwise, some of your target audience may stay deprived of optimal performance.
“Global delivery” does not equal to “global caching”
The location of origin server and edge servers is another crucial factor for your deployment strategy. How close your visitors are to the content edge servers is what defines player experience. Ideally, there shouldn’t be more than one network hop between a player and the closest CDN edge server.
So if your CDN provider claims to sustain global delivery, make sure that there are enough PoPs in the targeted regions, and the company is truly a global delivery professional.
CDNs can deliver content quickly, but can you scale a solution as you keep developing your game? Keep in mind that games can heat up high interest in the global gamer community even prior to launch. Sometimes players wait years to try out a new hot game.
So when this game is released, the floodgates will open, and you will need to handle the potential thousands of players requesting your 20-30 Gb game simultaneously. The most popular games can even have millions of players downloading the latest patch all at the same time. Therefore, your game CDN should have the ability to deal with a high demand for online games and sustain optimal speed for everyone accessing the network.
How well tailored is a CDN network for your game? Ask yourself these questions:
- Can the CDN deal with a huge traffic surge on patch day?
- Can traffic surge impact your performance?
- Is pricing policy optimal for gaming?
- Can you use a CDN for the early development stages without a minimum monthly payment?
Before actual game launch, game developers need a high-quality CDN network for beta and testing. During these years, delivery volume will be minor, and CDN will be used periodically. You can test various patches and builds requiring a little monthly bandwidth, but as you keep adding new content to your releases, you will need to grow your CDN. That’s where you need a network that’s designed to change with lifecycle of games and can grow with you. Be aware of CDN providers who want to rope you into early contracts with a high monthly payment before it makes financial sense for your company to enter such a commitment. Find a CDN company that truly realizes your needs and provides flexible pricing plans.
Prepare for an Attack
During recent years, online games have been the most highly targeted industry for DDoS attacks: leading CDN providers approved that about 33% of total attacks were performed against game companies. Such an attack can destroy your online game, as well as loyalty of your players.
As a publisher or developer, you believe that your game will become a success, but you should understand that this success will place the game into the spotlight for the attackers. Multi-layer protection is available on many CDN solutions, so you need to opt for this solution without hesitations. A safe CDN network comes with the whole range of protection services including web mitigation protection to application layer, origin and DNS protection.
Make sure that you select a CDN network that can delivery your game assets to users around the world and eliminates all vulnerabilities.