Nobody ever accused game developers of having an easy job. But over the past decade, more powerful and expensive hardware, as well as social games hosted on smartphones, have upped the ante. The gaming world is larger and more competitive than ever, and the market is evolving constantly.
Nowadays, even really good developers will make games that get passed over or lost in a sea of other options. It’s a global arena, and if you’re not making world-class products, you’re not going to last.
Undeniably, making great games that reach a large audience requires some element of luck. But more than luck, it requires commitment. You have to be dedicated to overcoming the challenges you’ll inevitably encounter, whether you’re an indie or AAA developer.
Today’s most successful developers aren’t the ones who spend the most on production, obtain the most funding, or utilize the best engine — they’re the ones who are relentlessly focused on giving gamers the best experience possible and that requires the right gaming infrastructure.
Low Latency and High Reliability
The level of competition inherent in many of today’s most popular games is unprecedented. Every millisecond counts. That said, online gamers have no tolerance for latency, the network data delay more commonly known as lag.
Whether due to poor computing or network performance, increased latency in online gaming will lead to stutters, video glitches, slow (or nonexistent) responses to player commands, sudden match losses, gamers getting booted from games due to timeouts, and a whole slew of other issues.
Modern gamers want to be able to enjoy their games without having to worry about external factors such as platform performance and network reliability. That means your network must stretch across the globe. If a platform can’t meet gamers’ demands, the frustration that stems from lost time and shattered expectations can drive even the most loyal, enthusiastic gamers to find something else to play.
Optimized Gaming Infrastructure
Different architectures will often handle the same workload differently. Figure out what it takes to deliver your game in the most efficient manner possible. It might make sense for you to distribute loads to different locations or invest in more RAM and SSD instead of slower disc types. Of course, the decisions you make about infrastructure will often depend on timing.
You should keep a close watch on changes in demand and the general attitude around your game so you’re ready to scale up or down as needed. You’ll especially want to be able to account for the potentially overwhelming surge in demand that could take place if your game starts taking off. A failure to prepare for this scenario could completely destroy the momentum of a successful release.
At the same time, you don’t want to invest too much in dedicated servers if public and private clouds or a hybrid solution will be more cost-effective. The proper gaming infrastructure will allow you to deliver the best possible experience to gamers.
Scalability shouldn’t be limited to your infrastructure. Don’t be afraid to modify your entire business model based on the feedback you get from the market.
As you reach more gamers, you might find that it makes sense to switch from a freemium approach to a subscription model or vice versa. If you’re serving a niche market or very specific demographic, talk to your customers and study other products they use to determine the model they’d prefer.
If you want to keep making games, you have to generate revenue. It’s OK to get creative as you’re searching for a way to do that. Just remember that it’s a gamer’s world. If you’re focused on delivering the best possible experience to the people playing your games, the rest will usually take care of itself.