In July 2020, G-Core Labs teamed up with the Censuswide British research agency to conduct a research project: “World video games industry 2020–2023: Trends, Technologies, Challenges”.
Representatives of 50 large, medium, and small video game developers from the USA, UK, EU, Russia, and CIS took part in the survey. They shared their experiences during the peak of quarantine measures last spring, as well as their views on what the market will be like in the next three years, covering topics such as trends and challenges, implemented and future technologies, monetization models, game formats in development, development plans for new regions, and the difficulties of international expansion.
The first article on the research results focuses on promising technologies that are in demand in game development.
Respondents from the video game industry named the following broad-based technologies (i.e. technology applicable for all entertainment genres and formats): (1) cloud gaming, which involves using external servers for all processes while users receive only video streams to their devices, and (2) VR/AR. 82 % and 66 % of respondents said they already use the aforementioned technologies or they plan to use them, respectively. Also, 40 % of respondents see potential in implementing AI technology and another 30 % plan to work, or are already working, with Big Data.
The widest implementation of VR and AR technology is expected among developers of various simulators (sports, city-building, etc.) as 82 % of such companies who develop this genre expressed interest in them. Simulators also hold a leading position in implementing AI (53 %).
As for working with Big Data, quest publishers are ahead (48 %).
“Today, we see a growing interest from our customers in the game dev industry regarding artificial intelligence, and this is not surprising. This technology opens up a number of opportunities for market players, including accelerating game development, designing interfaces at a new level, improving graphics, accurately moderating user content, programming character behavior, retaining players, and increasing player involvement. G-Core Labs offers a unique platform for working with applications based on AI. Through the cloud, we provide customers with a ready-made infrastructure for development with a GPU, a framework, and the necessary functionality to train and inference machine learning models. Management of all necessary resources is carried out via a user-friendly interface, and payments are made according to the Pay-as-you-go model.”
Another survey participant mentioned one more future trend—cooperative (or shared) virtual reality: “This is the future of the game industry. Until now, VR was always seen as an innovation that separated gamers from one another. But for new, quality development of video games, we must work together on a shared virtual reality where players actively interact with each other, thereby receiving a previously unattainable experience.”
The coronavirus pandemic couldn’t help but affect video developers and publishers. 4 out of 5 (84 %) respondents said that they experienced increased loads on their IT infrastructure in March–May during the period of mass self-isolation around the world. 69 % of them encountered increased work loads ranging from 51 % to 100 %, and 17 % of companies encountered loads that increased by 101 %–200 %.
“Periods of high demand for online entertainment due to forced self-isolation and other factors, including new releases, promotions, and seasonality, always raise questions concerning reliable and high-performance hosting. As such, game companies seek the benefits of cloud infrastructure and content delivery networks. Together, these components, provided they are high quality and regularly upgraded, are able to ensure the smooth functioning of any game or application, regardless of the traffic volume and associated load. As a result, they directly affect audience satisfaction and income for game creators. Today, various forecasts on the spread of coronavirus are being made. A number of countries expect a second wave of the pandemic. Consequently, choosing a high-quality infrastructure partner is a fairly serious issue for the gaming industry.”
When asked about the importance of high-quality content delivery networks with points of presence in places with a large audience, 94 % of the representatives of the gaming industry answered in the affirmative, with 30 % saying, “A CDN is very important.”
The growing value of CDNs in the eyes of the gaming industry is directly proportional to the increase in a game’s audience. Projects with an audience of more than 3 million gamers always highlight the importance of content delivery networks.
To solve their daily tasks, including work with high loads and peak traffic, the survey participants actively use the cloud. 50 % of respondents work with a private cloud and 40 % with a public cloud. At the same time, almost all (90 %) video game developers and publishers use or plan to use hybrid solutions that combine the capabilities of a private and public cloud.
63 % of the survey respondents use the capabilities of public and hybrid clouds in case there are increased loads on the infrastructure or peaks in traffic. Other popular scenarios for these types of clouds are game production (61 %) and development (53 %).
For the private cloud segment, the most common scenarios are supporting game production (64 %) and working with increased infrastructure loads, traffic, and game development (48 % each).
“Today, the use of cloud infrastructure has become mainstream in the video game industry. It’s worth mentioning that one of our esteemed clients—Wargaming, a world leader in the market of multiplayer games (World of Tanks, World of Warships, and other hits)—uses both public and private clouds from G-Core Labs that are fully customized to their needs. The main tasks that Wargaming solves with the help of G-Core Labs clouds are game development and design, testing new projects, working with peak loads during high season and promotions, and ensuring the production for a number of their latest games.”
The main criteria representatives of the video game industry used when choosing hosting were server power (43 %), effective protection against cyberattacks, including DDoS attacks (42 %), and cost (40 %).
It is noteworthy that among the companies with a large gaming audience (from 3.1 million to 5 million players), the most popular criterion when choosing a hosting service was the availability of effective protection against DDoS attacks. This was reported by 62 % of respondents.
“G-Core Labs is actually an all-in-one system for the gaming industry that provides the necessary infrastructure. Our content delivery network has more than 100 points of presence in 65 cities on all continents. We offer premium-level hosting at affordable prices, public cloud services, highly effective protection against DDoS attacks, and more. We are trusted by international video game market leaders, including Wargaming, Sandbox, RedFox Games, Bandai Namco, Reto Moto, and PlayKey.”
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