Gaming has stopped being a niche pastime for a select few a long time ago. These days, it’s a multimillion-dollar industry. As such, it is always at the cutting edge of technology. Modern games have to constantly change and evolve in order to grab the attention of modern gamers who have more entertainment options than ever before.
Interactivity and fast response times are crucial for a successful gaming experience. That’s why leading gaming brands collaborate with data centers to offer gamers the best online gaming experience. Online games demand considerable infrastructure to keep running smoothly, and data centers are the only type of service that can provide it.
What are data centers?
Data centers are centralized locations with computing and networking infrastructure that can collect, process, distribute, and store large amounts of data.
One of the most significant advantages of a data center, aside from overall data centre safety, is its ability to offer practically unlimited computing power when needed or scale it down when the demand drops.
A data center’s scalability is a critical component in offering a quality gaming experience to millions of players worldwide. A scalable data center can provide as much computing power and infrastructural support as the game needs at the moment, even during peak times and sudden spikes in popularity.
Online gaming and edge computing
Some modern games rely entirely on data centers to run. To do so, they use technology that is known as edge computing. Most computing power and memory are stored in data centers, which then broadcast games to consumers. At the user’s end, the installation is minimal or nonexistent.
This allows gamers access to a range of titles without the need to own a powerful, high-end processing PC of their own, and instead means they can use a standard ‘low-end’ device such as a laptop, tablet, or even a TV, as long as they have a good internet connection.
Cloud computing and multiplayer games
Low latency and lag can make or break an overall gaming experience and are critical in multiplayer games. Good gameplay is practically worthless if there is a considerable delay in the speed of delivery of data packets.
The input signals players send back to the server need to be incredibly fast to avoid generating lag. High latency connections are why streaming video can sputter, freeze, and fragment. While this can be annoying for video content, it’s even more crippling for cloud gaming services.
Gaming and data centers today
There are already many challenges that the games of today are facing. Delivering a high-quality gaming experience, often across a multi-user network and many different devices, is dependent on low-latency video streaming and fast processing of graphics, as well as the player’s input.
Gamers can become quickly frustrated after investing a lot of time and effort into a game only to lose in a multi-player environment due to a slow connection. These frustrations, particularly when shared in a social media age, can mean users migrate to new titles and give the game bad publicity that would hurt the developer.
Another thing to consider is that the players’ attention can shift to a new title in a minute. A game that’s been around for a while can become a viral sensation overnight (as is the case with “Among us” right now, or with “Animal Crossing” when the pandemic started). Game developers dream of making it big, but if it happens suddenly with no infrastructure to support a massive influx of new players, it could drive tens of thousands of gamers away instantly.
To adapt to such swings in demand, gaming companies need optimum performance and high resilience levels from their infrastructure. And that, precisely, is what modern data centers can provide.
What does the future bring?
The way trends seem to be shifting; there is a revolution on the horizon. Some predictions claim that we are heading towards a future where most of the game - not only the game assets but the computing power that makes it run, too - will be stored in the cloud.
Stadia by Google was an impressive proof of concept of a console that would be entirely cloud-based. Sadly, it didn’t take off, mostly due to the poor library of games. However, there are already developers who offer something similar, like French developer Blade, whose game “Shadow” can be played on a weak PC or laptop since all the actual processing and computing is done in the cloud. Several other creators are trying to do something similar, but the technology is still in its infancy.
Some analytics say that this is where the industry as a whole is heading. The analytics claim that the future of gaming will be similar to video-on-demand services, with cloud gaming providing players new choices in when and where they play and giving game creators the possibility of reaching a whole new audience of users.
No matter what lies ahead, it is inevitable that video games and data centers will remain closely connected in the future, just as they are now.
Online gaming and streaming count on seamless delivery. Data centers come with the capabilities and infrastructure to deliver scalable network connectivity solutions that the games need. So, it is easy to see why a game developer would choose to use the services of a data center instead of risking it all with a server farm of their own.
Powerful data centers must function in the background to deliver a desirable experience that increases the love for gaming and the trust in a brand. They must also be able to respond to the fickle demands of gamers with the uncertain needs of the video gaming business.
In the future, the bond between games and data centers will become even tighter if the predictions that claim that the games of tomorrow will resemble the streaming video content of today come true. Even if that doesn’t happen, data centers and video games will remain tightly connected for many years to come.