Game content takes massive amounts of storage space, and speed is everything for a good user experience. Gaming developers use CDNs, “a Content Delivery Network“, to speed up content delivery, because a natural progression to any game is additional images and video that must be downloaded and streamed to users at lightning quick speed. Patch day is a common occurrence for online games, and users are used to them but expect speed. No gamer likes a slow experience, so performance is a critical aspect of a game’s success.
CDNs Offer Faster Content Delivery
It’s not uncommon for a game’s initial deployment to require several hundreds of gigabytes of storage. Users must then download most content to play, which can take hours for a slow Internet connection. As the game progresses, they need to then download new content. Imagine waiting an hour or two each week before playing a game. It’s frustrating, and often leads to a loss in user base.
With traditional servers, the entire user base downloads content from one server. Even a server farm behind a load balancer would get overloaded during patch day. A CDN changes all of this.
CDNs use push zones to allow gaming developers to host all of their content in CDN data centers strategically located across the globe. The traditional single server farm overloaded by thousands of connections is no longer an issue. Instead, the CDN delivers content from data centers across the globe but in proximity to the user. The user is connected with a server in geographic proximity to his location, which speeds up delivery times.
Even though data is transferred at the speed of light, it still must travel thousands of miles for international users using traditional servers. A user in Australia will have poor speeds connecting to an American server, but the issue is remedied when a CDN has a data center in Australia. The Australian user can now connect to a local server on a CDN.
Lower Latency and Faster Ping Times
Any online gamer is obsessed with ping time. A high ping time causes slow gaming due to the amount of time it takes for a request to reach the server. This poor response time is the death of a gamer’s toon. As a gamer, losing a battle over poor ping times is nothing but frustration.
Since CDNs cache content and store it at each data center, ping times are greatly reduced. A faster ping time means faster action for the gamer. Poor speed is especially common when the gamer is downloading patch files and playing the game at the same time. Bandwidth is exhausted and the game is slow until the download is finished. With traditional servers, this was common due to the massive amounts of other players downloading and patching at the same time.
A CDN caches content as well as delivers from a closer location. The user downloads content much faster, and they can enjoy the game without waiting hours for a patch to finish.
How a Game CDN Works
We mentioned push zones. Push zones are used for uploading large data files onto the CDN network for distribution to users. A CDN has a point of presence (PoP) in various geographic locations. CDN.net has 131 global PoPs. These PoPs are important when you choose a CDN. Your user base should be covered with a PoP located within their region.
When a user in the UK decides to download a game, a data center within the UK pulls data from the original gaming server. This is done without any interruption to the user, and he is unaware of this process happening.
The next step is the CDN server caches the data after it’s pulled from the original server. The next time another user in the UK downloads the game, the data is available from cached content and it gets delivered much more quickly. Load on the origin server is limited, and the user maintains a fast connection with the CDN data center. This process is repeated for all data centers across the globe serving these online gamers.
With a game CDN, the result of faster downloads is
- A better user experience
- Faster ping times
- Less load on the original server
- Consistent speed regardless of user location
- Defense against DDoS attacks
- Happy gamers
Any online gaming developer who wants to deliver content as quickly as possible to users should invest in a CDN. Gamers can be very picky about speed, because poor speed ruins the gaming experience. Hosting game content on a CDN ensures that content is always delivered quickly and keeps your users happy.