There was some big noise at the recent E3 games conference, not least the revival of Atari into the hardware business as well as the launch of the new Xbox One X console. The biggest draw for fans is arguably the latest developments in online gaming across all platforms. This is also the biggest appeal for data centre operators, the backbone of online gaming and a critical driver for its success. This is according to Aegis Data, colocation data centre providers.
The global online gaming sector has trebled since 2005, with an estimated 65% of households owning a device for playing games. The growth in sophisticated graphics and higher processing has been a key benefactor of the industry, which in turn profits from the infrastructure, connectivity and storage provided by the data centre industry, as Greg McCulloch, CEO of Aegis Data comments:
“The importance of the data centre in online gaming is only really felt when there is a crash. Last year both Sony and Microsoft experienced outages to their online gaming platforms which left millions of users unable to access online features.”
“It is vital therefore, that the data centre, which typically sits at the back-end of these immersive experiences, are able to withstand massive fluctuations in power and usage. Spikes are naturally going to be experienced at the end of the day when kids are home from school and adults are back from work, or when a popular game series brings out its latest edition.”
By looking at examples such as mobile game Pokémon Go, it is easy to understand the importance of the data centre in providing consistent services. Delayed in the UK because the servers couldn’t handle the sudden surge in demand, users were left stranded as the rest of the world played on. This demonstrates the fundamental requirement of any data centre supporting online gaming features – the ability to cope with peaks and troughs in user demand.
“Data centres must be multifaceted in their services for online gamers. The growth in Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, like World of Warcraft, take up huge services in the data centre and if that goes down then there are many disgruntled customers. The more resilient a data centre, the better,” Greg continues.
It’s not only a resilience and processing power that data centres need to have to be able to service the gaming industry. Cyber security is also essential with thousands of users’ credit card details being held on servers. In 2011 Sony’s PlayStation Network was hacked, exposing the personal information of 77 million user accounts.
“By combining security, resilience and the power and cooling capabilities to withstand the launch of the year’s must have game, or the expansion of a popular series, data centres providers are ideally placed to provide invaluable services to gaming providers,” concludes Greg.