In the new era of rapid growth for mobile internet, mobile games are increasing in share in the gaming industry. Research by a third-party institute has predicted that the global mobile gaming industry will generate $106.4 billion in revenue by 2021. As a global multi-platform game publisher, we were aware of this momentum years ago and has been striving to improve our game developing capability. We have nearly 100 games in various genres that have been translated into 16 different languages in over 130 countries.
However, publishing and managing the operations of such diversified profiles of games also poses great challenges to IT systems. This is because the effort in testing, launching, maintaining, and updating has become an arduous task when owning and operating over hundreds of products in different languages serving various countries and regions worldwide. As a result, choosing the right cloud service provider is critical for anyone who would like to compete in this global business. Thanks to GCP (Google Cloud Platforms), I have some really useful experience to share with our readers.
To gain a competitive edge in the business, a CTO/CIO needs powerful support from the following aspects:
Cost effective and reliable infrastructure:
Software runs on servers, or dockers in a more modern architecture. We turned to GCE (Google Compute Engine) because it provides optimal performance and can reduce our related costs by 24 percent (compared to stats using another leading cloud service provider). After migrating to GCE, customer engineer from Google helped us start a project migrating most of our software to containers, using Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE). With well configured auto scaling strategy, this further reduced our cost by 33 percent (compared to stats using all GCE without any docker).
In addition, compliance is not only a legal requirement, but also a basic commitment to customers. In this respect, Google Cloud has provided us with great reassurance with its focus on automated workflow, operations, and maintenance. This advanced SRE experience is important to all the gaming customers, which has brought a new experience and changed the way gaming users feel.
Besides GCE and GKE, we also use Cloud SQL to build databases for our games and Cloud CDN (Content Delivery Network) for regional acceleration.
The cost of migration is really cost-effective. From the beginning of learning about different Google Cloud services to successfully complete the migration, it took our organization only 60 days, which includes all the time for studying, planning, developing, verifying and deploying. This extremely efficient migration process has minimized the possibility to affect our gamers. User will not notice the migration of the backend infrastructure, which provides a kind of ideal experience for users, and that is the ultimate pursuit of operators and maintainers.
Connectivity internally and externally:
Publishing games globally means we need to have servers globally. Normally these servers need to communicate with each other. One of the most amazing features we learned from GCP is that we can have global Virtual Private Network effortlessly and seamlessly. During testing, latencies between different regions have pleasantly surprised us. And soon we were told a fact that, 50% of the global internet traffic runs in the public cables, and the other 50% runs in Google’s cables. Generally, most of the GCP services runs on top of the same physical infrastructure that Google’s own services (most famously, the Google search engine) use.
Another service worth mentioning is the Cloud CDN. Google has deployed so many Edge Points of Presence (POPs) across the world, that wherever an end user lives, there is a strong possibility that his nearest Internet Service Provider (ISP) has also a Google POP node. And that POP node is then connected to Google’s dedicated physical network mentioned above. Even in special regions like India, South America or Southeast Asia, Cloud CDN has provided us an experience of 99%+ stability and ultra-low user latency. Some of our games have seen a 15% increase in response speed after switching to Cloud CDN. And this is definitely an improvement player can feel intuitively.
Furthermore, by using load balancers which are directly deployed on the POP nodes, we are benefiting from Google’s security facilities as well. Games usually face different types of malicious attacks every now and then. We used to purchase different types of commercial protection services, and they were not cheap. GCP has helped us saving this cost (over $50k per year) without any downgrade in protectability.
Accelerating business transformation by data
More and more companies are trying to learn their users better, by analyzing user behaviors and try to predict what the users expect. GCP has provided us some leading analytics and machine learning capabilities, which enables us to store, manage, and analyze petabytes of data collected from top games. This makes our life much easier to discover insights and predictions and to grow our audience.
BigQuery is a tool that I highly recommend fellow developers to take a look at. It provides excellent scalability, reliability and flexibility to help us in building a unified data platform, accelerating their data transformation. In addition, Cloud Storage allows customers to hold massive data archive securely, removing the capacity planning burden from the customers. In the end, by feeding all the data stored in BigQuery to AutoML Engine, we can easily get different models to predict paying user, user retention or public opinions.
Choosing the right cloud partner
In the end, due to the limited space allowed, I can’t share all the GCP services we use. I know there are an increasing number of organizations that are leveraging on cloud services to reduce their infrastructure costs and improve efficiencies. Most have tested and benchmarked the performance of different cloud service providers across several countries and regions. From our experience, GCP stands out in terms of cost, performance, reliability, operation efficiency and maintenance, as well as their strong artificial intelligence capabilities and offerings. I hope this article will help you choose the right cloud partner of your organization.