There's a lot of noise around Edge Gaming. Game developers, ISPs and Telcos are constantly grappling with which edge gaming providers to partner with and who can give the best value for money. Here are five key questions you must ask before investing in an edge gaming provider.
Gaming on the edge
Most game processing today is done locally on devices. While it is possible to allow some processing to happen on a cloud server - where a device can send data to be processed and then returned - these servers are usually located in large, far-away data centres. This means that the time it takes for the data to return will ultimately degrade the gaming experience.
Edge computing, however, promises better gaming experiences by lowering latency and improving accessibility at a more affordable cost to gamers. When workloads run at the edge of the network (instead of being sent to a few centralised locations for processing), data need only travel the minimum necessary distance, reducing associated lag time and enabling more interactive and immersive in-game experiences. Furthermore, edge computing is paving the way for more subscription-based models that could ultimately put some money back in gamers' pockets by reducing the need for game and hardware investments.
So is it possible to build an edge gaming solution by yourself, but at what cost? Again, time-to-market matters. Most cloud vendors provide the tools to build an edge solution, but the cost, time, skills and expertise needed to build, grow and maintain an edge management solution needs to be checked. Often, it's simpler, less costly and easier to get a one-stop solution from a third-party edge gaming solutions provider who provides both gaming and edge compute as one integrated solution.
What follows are just a few questions that should be part of every evaluation, along with a brief explanation as to why they're important.
- Is your edge gaming provider 5G-ready?
An optimised network makes your gaming experience as smooth as possible. If the signal connecting you to the internet is acting up, there is only so far you can go with the hardware.
Wireless networks are on their way to faster speeds and near-instant connections with 5G networks. Emerging technologies such as 5G and edge computing improve the ability to innovate and infuse AI and machine learning into edge solutions, opening up new possibilities for use cases and business models. However, 5G will not be able to meet its performance goals of extremely low latency and massive broadband without edge computing due to the time it takes data to travel across the fibre networks that connect the radios on towers to the network core.
Once the application or content has moved closer to the radio at the edge of the network, network latency decreases. With high-performance computer hardware and radios that prioritise traffic, 5G latency goals will be more easily met. In short, 5G needs robust edge computing infrastructure and network support.
- How many PoPs does your edge gaming provider have?
In order to compete in a 5G landscape, gaming companies require connections at as many Points of Presence (PoPs) as possible to ensure that the latency and bandwidth requirements of 5G can be met.
PoPs work as a bridge between end-users and content besides offering a wide range of attributes. These are also reckoned for their load balancing features and have a remarkable ability to support redundancy. More number of POPs is a prerequisite for services that cater to global audiences or deal with longer videos and other media.
It is much easier to access content from a local CDN PoP than travelling across continents to gain access to main servers. An edge gaming provider that promises the fastest infrastructure and the largest PoPs in data centres around the world— that's the one that should rank higher on your edge gaming providers list.
- Does your edge gaming provider support multiplayer game development?
As online game developers and multinational game publishers look for further growth opportunities, optimising content delivery and keeping a seamless customer experience is paramount.
An edge gaming provider should be able to provide gaming developer companies with the same infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools to virtually any data centre, colocation space, or on-premises facility for a truly consistent hybrid experience.
Teams need to be able to focus on developing unique games, not 'undifferentiated heavy lifting' (IT work that doesn't add value). As games get bigger and target more platforms, build processes require more compute and storage resources. Better workflow comes from removing such undifferentiated heavy lifting, which means it's a faster and smoother path to deployment.
Choose an edge provider that promises your team more time to concentrate on making exceptional multiplayer titles (real twitch games) and not on managing and monitoring the environment.
- Does your edge gaming provider help improve video game delivery and optimize costs?
Customers' expectations for compelling, immersive real-time interactions continue to grow, and boundaries between the physical and the digital continue to erode. More and more online game developers and multinational game publishers are using edge computing to optimize content delivery and improve user experience.
When a game launches, the publisher needs to ensure they have the sufficient hosting capacity for the number of players they expect in the game. Plan for too little, and you risk players experiencing poor performance and potentially being unable to play at all. Plan for too much, and you are paying for the capacity you don't need. Being able to react to demand is, therefore, critical, as the game's financial performance depends on matching capacity planning to the actual demand.
- Does your edge gaming provider enable better VR/AR?
Edge computing (together with 5G) could also help AR games live up to their potential, going well beyond the limitations of the available technology.AR devices also tend to require a tremendous amount of processing for object recognition, among other things. In location-based AR games (where multiple people play the same game in the same place), the same data has to be individually processed on each device. But with edge processing, this redundancy can be removed, allowing specific data to be processed just once before streaming the results to multiple users. As a whole, this will bring a more enjoyable and accurate AR experience, enhancing the mobile AR gaming experience and improving battery life.
Edge gaming will help decrease the need for high-end devices to play high-quality, collaborative games, removing an entry barrier to gaming and increasing the number of people who can enjoy gaming from our everyday devices.
Edge computing promises better gaming experiences by lowering latency and improving accessibility at a more affordable cost to gamers. Explore how TM Edge Gaming helps game companies publish better multiplayer games leveraging its edge facilities, including edge compute and last-mile delivery to scale gaming services in Southeast Asia.