The explosion of interest in mobile gaming is an exciting development for the industry, but one which brings with it a major challenge. With exponential data growth, developers are struggling to deliver the performance today’s tech-savvy gamers demand.
These problems are especially evident where games such as Xbox Live demand real-time responsiveness and interaction on a global scale. Developers generally are looking to create sharper graphics and push more data into games, which then need to be accessed and manipulated faster. All this requires a storage facility that can hold vast volumes of data and act on it in real-time. By adopting a best practice in-memory solution all transaction data is held within the application itself rather than in large databases, with the result that response times are slashed from minutes to micro-seconds.
Flexibility and capacity
As the volume of players continues to rise rapidly, online gaming sites need the technical capacity to manage terabytes of data to cope with the fast-growing market.
In delivering this essential flexibility, a software-based in-memory solution which runs on low-cost commodity servers and uses industry-standard API can be installed quickly and simply in just an afternoon. This enables the operator to be up and running almost immediately. 24-hour IT support also ensures that this level of performance is maintained with minimum outages or downtime.
As well as enabling significantly faster performance and response times, compared with traditional database systems, in-memory technology has also shown to increase scalability. Customer data in-memory can be recalled instantly, allowing the business to respond instantly to rapid spikes in demand.
Whereas databases can typically only handle a certain volume of customers at any one time before the performance of the site is affected, in-memory technology has no such limitations. In one European project, for example, the in-memory system was proven to have the capacity to handle 500,000 transactions per second, 10 times faster than a database.
No more gremlins
To date, many users have experienced disruption to play when an online gaming site freezes unexpectedly. This is usually related to the technical term known as ‘garbage collection.’ Behind the scenes, the system is working to remove excess stale objects, freeing-up memory.
With user experience absolutely critical in online gaming, disruptions such as these can be extremely detrimental from a business as well as a user’s perspective, with players always able to take play elsewhere. For this reason the inevitable garbage collection ‘pauses’ and the slow response of traditional databases approach, which creates user frustration is a key selling point for an in-memory system.
The growth and maturity of ‘predictive analysis’ in technology is enabling many gaming companies to understand their customers better and put together more creative, targeted advertising and promotional initiatives. The potential commercial opportunities this offers has created a real appetite in the industry for the capacity to enable a high degree of personalisation, with marketing and advertising specifically targeted around an individual user’s responses and location.
Instead of mass-placements or email communications, the rapid response to incoming feeds and access to historical information enabled by in-memory systems means that it’s now possible to identify individual users and send them relevant, timely information. In the highly competitive online gaming industry, this not only offers the potential to improve loyalty but will also make customers more likely to respond to marketing and advertising.
Keeping pace with fast-moving markets
While increased deregulation is encouraging operators to expand internationally, it has become critical that technology enables them to keep pace with the market. In its simplest terms, this means not only having the capacity to host millions of concurrent players, but also ensure that customer transactions consistently take place in real-time and at the speed today’s online user demands – all of which are now possible using software-based in-memory solutions.
By ensuring that all interactions take place in real-time, switching to an agile, scalable, in-memory solution will give today’s gaming operator the scalability and flexibility they need to efficiently manage large numbers of concurrent players. In fact, feedback from existing users has shown an improvement in response times of up to 70 per cent, a massive plus against what is now considered a key performance indicator.