Staying on top of the competitive games market
What will you listen to in this episode?
1. Minute 05:09 - Joshua shared with us what are the main pain points he perceives in the games industry from the game development and performance perspective and how can EdgeNext help gaming companies combat these issues.
2. Minute 09: 10 - Joshua explains how important is got game studios to have solutions for accelerations and data enhancement so games don't lag. He shares an example of how in Esports for example, milliseconds are the difference between winning and losing a competition and if there is a lag, that can decrease exponentially the game experience.
3. Minute 14:28 - We shared with Joshua how Affogata did a report analyzing the 4 biggest Battle Royale games: Fortnite, PUBG, Call of Duty Mobile, and Apex Legends and we found that technical issues appear to be a recurring topic in the negative mentions of all games examined. Common complaints include server connection issues that cause lag and freezing throughout gameplay, and more and we asked Joshua what were his thoughts regarding these main complaints.
4. Minute 19:23 - Joshua shares how Game Studios could utilize both EdgeNext and Affogata to provide the best experience for their players, optimize their games with all of this data and achieve their maximum potential.
00:55 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
In the games industry, there seems to be an endless battle for players. With the number of game downloads and purchases growing tremendously in recent years, it's safe to say that video games are becoming increasingly popular among consumers all over the world, and creating an excellent player experience for a game is no easy job. So what should game studios be looking into in order to stay on top of the competitive games market and provide the ultimate player experience?
Hello and welcome to Affogata’s podcast: Let’s talk customer feedback. I am Natalie, your host, and today I have the pleasure of hosting Joshua Johnson, Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext.
Hi Joshua, I’m excited to have you here. How are you doing today?
01:45 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
I'm doing great, Natalie, and thank you. I really enjoy being here and am very appreciative of being asked to join.
01:56 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
We're super happy to have you here. And before we start, it would be great if we have a short intro from you. So can you tell us about yourself and what EdgeNext does?
02:01 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Sure. As you mentioned, my name is Joshua Johnson. I'm the Director of Solutions Architecture for EdgeNext. I've been in the technology industry for 25 years, and spent a lot of time in the CDN industry with multiple companies working from anywhere from pre-sales to post-sales, support to operational building infrastructures, helping deploy them, et cetera. At this point, working for EdgeNext and helping to bring customers to EdgeNext to use the services and products that we provide, which are acceleration services, security services, and so forth. Specifically directed towards different gaming industries, whether it's video game industries, igaming industries, along with pretty much e-commerce. Anything that you can think of that needs acceleration, security, and edge computing technologies.
3:09 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
Great. That's actually very interesting. And it's really interesting because both Affogata and EdgeNext are two companies that are really helping game studios to provide the best possible game experience for players. So it's great to have you here today and thank you for the intro. And before we start with the more serious questions, we have a short story from our Tales from the Feedback Crypt.
For the release of Resident Evil five Capcom tried to emulate the trick used by the producers of the Batman film: The Dark Knight. The Batman idea was to distribute joker cards all over a few cities to get folks excited about the movie. Capcom, well, they chose body parts instead. Imagine if you would be taking a nice walk around London and you stumbled upon a head. What path could come of that? The idea was that the person who found the most severe lymphs and other body parts would win a trip to Africa to celebrate the game's new location. The publicity stunt went wrong for two reasons. Many folks took the body parts and simply kept them for some bizarre reason, or even worse, mistook them for real ones and contacted the authorities. The second problem was that the parts were smeared in chicken livers and blood, making them a huge contamination risk due to salmonella and other foodborne diseases. Thank you for joining me and see you next week on Tales from the Feedback Crypt.
04:53 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
And now with that story in mind, we can't wait to hear what Joshua has to say today. So let's start. Now that we know what EdgeNext does, can you share with us what are the main pain points you perceive in the games industry from the game development and performance perspective?
05:09 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Well, the main thing is, and honestly, I take this partly from my own experience of working with game industries, but also my son, who is a very big gamer, gives me feedback all the time, especially when he's home and complains about the speed of our network. But issues that are happening is, as the game industry is growing, the games are getting bigger and bigger. I mean, very, very dynamic games. They take a large time to download and get onto the games. And the game distribution is global. People are playing, you've got people playing in Asia, you've got people playing simultaneously in North America, in the Middle East, and Europe all over simultaneously playing games. So one of the biggest issues is the ability to actually get the game to the end user, the games. I was just recently at Gamescom this past fall in Germany and in Malta, and one of the directions that the games are going as the user experience is amazing, but the interactivity and the games are becoming very, very vivid. The technologies and the involvement of the end user is growing. And so you look at the size of these games, you know, it used to be that you have a, you know, a few hundred meg game size meg game and those would, you know, download to your PC or whatever. But you look nowadays on some of the platforms, 50GB is the size of a game to download because the world that they created is just so incredibly vivid. I was talking with a company that does compression technologies, 3D compression technologies, so that they can actually get a very great view of 3D imaging, like water and movement and so forth. But the fact of the matter is one object was like 8GB and they had to come up with a compression technology to shrink it. So speed of download, ability to play, the ability to get those pieces of the game to the end user. And then on top of everything else, you've got security concerns, you've got live gaming that's going on, you've got people that are trying to cheat at the same time. How do you combat that? How do you make sure that during a live game, your transit speed is good, and your ability to defend against possible DDoS attacks or entered-game cheating? Those are all a lot of the pieces of the main complaints that I hear and the things that people talk about and how they're trying to work around them.
08:19 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
Definitely, that's actually super interesting and a great solution for game companies, as you mentioned, that want to again provide the best experience for players. So that's super interesting. And we've seen that in the last five years, the voice of players actually like the consumer voice in all industries, has dramatically gained a more important role in organizations. In this case, Game Studios. Do you see this reflected in the type of service that you provide to Game Studios?
08:50 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Yeah, I mean, once again, the players are talking about slow performance or large files. And some of the options that we provide are the ability to accelerate the download of the game to the end users, the ability to accelerate the in-game play. As I mentioned, my son tends to complain to me. It's like you look at gaming now and some of the live gaming and it's very interactive and it's becoming more and more in the entertainment industry. You look at the development of the streaming industry and how it's become. They've built infrastructure to support it and now the gaming industry is going the same way. And I was talking to one of the game-developing companies and they're saying that essentially what's happening is becoming an all-encompassing entertainment industry. You've got the gameplay, you've got the viewers watching, you've got interactive chat at the same time, and so forth. So what ends up happening, like I said, my son complained is like they build in ping times so that the kids can watch or the game players I don't mean kids, but the game players can watch the speed of the response of the servers. And we're talking if they get 60 milliseconds or 70 milliseconds, they're starting to complain because it's not fast enough. You can't respond quickly. And a lot of that is because when you're talking competition, gaming, and so forth like that, what ends up happening is those milliseconds are the difference between winning and losing a competition. And some of the money that is, you look at the esport events and so forth that are going on, the money that these teams and these players can win, it's no different than what we consider professional athletes doing and making, and it's just amazing.
So, yeah, what we provide as far as acceleration service and the data that can be provided back to them to enhance their games, to provide feedback as to where things lag, where things don't work, where it is adopted, well, et cetera, that's all stuff that the companies just love to have.
11:22 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
Right! And for game studios, it's great that they want to listen to the players. And players are very active in promoting what they want, but it puts a lot of pressure on these companies to be able to really be on top.
11:39 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Right! I mean, the gaming industry is very competitive and you've got some very large players and you've got some on the outskirts and trying to get in there and become one of those players. It's important that they listen to their end users. It's important that they say, okay, you look at a game that's developed and you see the adoption of it and it's like, okay, they like it, do they not like it? But they're really kind of going back to them, back to those end users, and say, what do you like about this? What is the next thing? The blog data, you look at all the YouTube videos and so forth, that kind of kids playing and so forth and say, well, this is good and that's not good. And that is driving the industry and the changes that they adopt.
12:28 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
Definitely. And we would love to hear if you have any specific story in which EdgeNext helped a game studio. What was the challenge the company had and what was the solution?
12:45 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Well, one of the easiest is that the adoption of gaming in Asia and China is very, very difficult. And luckily for us, EdgeNext has a presence in China and is able to assist in the delivery of the game assets, the game downloads, and so forth to those end users in China and the updates and so forth. Even an update can be 8GB in size. And you think about this, and you also think about the fact that there's always some kind of filtering, there's always some kind of oversight of the traffic going in and out of China. So our ability, we had a company, a very large gaming company, that wanted to get their assets into China but were unable to do so. And when they were able to do it, it was oftentimes from what you would call the Pacific Rim and outside of China. And we were actually able to help them get their game assets into China, get them delivered to their end users so that they could play, get the updates worked with. Because we have a relationship with the providers in China and the telecom providers in China, we have the ability to distribute these out to the Edge nodes, and out to the end users in very disparate regions of the country. And it's worked very well for us. But we're constantly, just like everybody else, we're constantly trying to improve that performance, figure out the best way to do it, figure out the most cost-efficient way to do it, and everything else. But these are the types of things that we provide.
14:28 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
That sounds really interesting and I wanted to tell you a bit of what we did in Affogata and I wanted to pick your brain on what are your thoughts regarding it. So back in March, almost a year ago, Affogata created a report comparing the four biggest Battle Royale games. So that was Fortnite, PUBG, call of Duty Mobile, and Apex Legends. So Affogata did a topic comparison and found that technical issues appear to be a recurring topic in the negative mentions of all games examined. Common complaints include server connection issues that cause lag and freezing throughout gameplay, with players claiming they were kicked out of games altogether. Other recurring complaints include bugs, glitches, and login issues. What do you think about this?
15:20 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
It's true that's a common refrain and it's a common thing that happens across the gaming industry itself. These large games have thousands upon thousands of players playing simultaneously. And as I mentioned earlier, they're in different parts of the world and when they're competing and they're playing and they get on, the infrastructure needs to be robust to handle it. And like you said, they get kicked out of the game, or there might be lag. I mentioned earlier about complaints about 60 and 70-millisecond ping times and things like that. That's the cause of it. The network needs to be pristine, and the ability to accelerate that in gameplay, the ability to maintain that connection through all of it and not all sudden drop it, servers can become overwhelmed. Part of that happens just because of the distribution of the connections and where people are playing and an overload of the server. But you can also look at it from the point of view that the security of it and they could be attacked by any type of DDoS type of situation. It is very true that the data you have is right in line with the majority of the complaints that are going on with the game players.
16:50 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
Right! And part of this report, like people, were as we just mentioned before, they were really active complaints about this. People really are unsatisfied by this and people that are super connected and loyal to games can get very frustrated. Like people saying it's a fantastic game overall, but the glitches just ruined the experience. Glitches are increasing a lot in the season and things like this, so it does ruin the experience. They can even stop playing games because of these things. So how do you think your technology at EdgeNext can help with these problems? And how can Game Studios benefit from it?
17:36 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Well, I mean there's a couple of different things. We've got obviously the initial piece of saying of accelerating the game to the end user to get it there faster so that they can play, helps. But also our edged compute nodes and our backbone, we have interconnectivity and peering across the globe that with hundreds of providers, and what it allows for us to do is to create a backbone network that can interconnect with those game servers with as low latency and as strong a connection as possible. They have the ability to leverage our Edge computing infrastructure for additional technology if they want to deploy a piece of code or if they want to deploy some kind of data analytics piece that they want to pull data back. A lot of these in-game plays, they're constantly looking at connectivity and things like that, and the servers and the technology behind these game studios, they're monitoring these and they're switching users from here to there. But when you switch a user off of one server or another, there's your disconnect. So they want to make sure that they've been given the best path and these things are possible using EdgeNext because we're constantly monitoring the best way or the best path from what point A to point B. And if an end user connects in, we can get them where they need to go.
19:03 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
Right! And this is the last question, it may be a bit hard so if you need help, just let me know. But why do you think that Affogata that EdgeNext can be a great combination of tools for game studios? How can both tools help companies optimize their games?
19:23 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Well, it's a great question, and I think really, you look at it, you provide data, you provide information. We provide technology, but we also provide information as well, combining the two so we could turn around and with Affogata, we have a set of data that we can provide to you, we can provide to the end users, and you can collect the data that you also have, whether it's from end-user responses and game in gameplay and so forth. You can coalesce those pieces of information and get these to the game studios, whereas we can turn around and provide that connectivity from end to end with the download speeds. We can turn around and show the adoption rates and whether or not somebody is finishing something and send this information. Because now you've got. We could actually act as another end user for you. And Affogata now has not only the player end user but the distribution end user, the technology end user that can turn around and build a model for these game studies to look at. You've got game players over here that are saying XYZ, we've got data from these game players, we've also got data from EdgeNext that says your adoption rate over here is this, because technically connectivity out here in this area and these providers are very slow and so forth, or they're not getting the best user experience or such and such. And we can not only funnel that back to you so that you can turn around and create a response model, but also funnel it back to the game studios themselves. And they can take the more technical pieces of information and adopt it into the development and design of their games and their distribution.
21:13 Natalie Markovits | Affogata’s Host
Definitely. And I think that's actually the best way to end the podcast because I do think that we can benefit both to game studios to really just provide the best experience and optimize their games with all of this data that they can get from us. So I want to thank you, Josh, so much for being here today with me. It was super interesting to learn more about what you do at EdgeNext and how we can both help gaming studios provide the best experience and achieve their maximum potential.
21:44 Joshua Johnson | Director Solutions Architecture at EdgeNext:
Natalie, it was great being here and I very much thank you for inviting me and having the opportunity to talk to you about all this.