How to choose the right network solution for your game

Network cables
2 February 2022

There’s no way to avoid a cliché of starting out with “In those unprecedented times (…)” when it comes to advancements in online communication over the past few years. We’ve seen immense innovation in bringing people together over the internet, and it doesn’t only concern WebRTC experiences like Discord or Zoom – stellar connectivity is paramount to gaming too.

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The future of gaming is now

Gaming was one of the major components of keeping us connected and entertained in the safety of our own homes. Many online gaming titles saw record numbers of players, with their communities becoming more extensive and more closely tied together. If there ever was time for game developers to take their precious ideas for new online experiences and make a run for it, it’s now – but looking at major, AAA gaming titles, it’s easy to forget that putting a game online and making it run flawlessly is not as straightforward as it might seem.

In our previous blog, Online game development: 9 things to consider in early stages, we discussed a few things to keep in mind while developing a game to ensure that its concept will hold up against the technicalities of running it online. But how to run it online? There are plenty of comprehensive solutions that will cover your needs in that matter, but what are the most critical aspects of them to keep in mind?

Minimize downtime: Go online, stay online

Staying afloat is surviving – and we cannot stress it enough. Downtime can make or break an online game in a heartbeat. If your promotional efforts were successful enough to bring a sizeable crowd to your title, your main goal is to keep them returning. But if the game’s online availability is spotty at best, nobody is willing to waste their precious time staring at a loading screen. Extensive downtime has ruined multi-year AAA franchises within days of launching a new installment in the series before (think of the disastrous SimCity launch in 2013).

You need to ensure that the online solution you choose for your game is historically reliable and has the resources to mitigate and minimize possible downtime. Of course, uptime of 100% on any server is impossible, but getting super close is essential – a difference between an average of 99.9% and 99.999% uptime can mean hours of downtime a year, so choose your provider wisely. Guaranteed uptime should also be a part of a Service Level Agreement between you and the provider, and don’t go into a commitment with someone who won’t offer you one. Your game and the future of your business depend on it.

Choose a network close to your players

Another crucial element of any online service is its geographical availability. When choosing a provider to host your game, investigate their own network – can they bring you quickly to all the corners of the world at once? Do they own their own network or outsource it to giant Cloud providers? How fast can a player make a jump across the ocean to connect to their friends on a different continent?

Even if your ambitions are small, prepare yourself for a global audience. The power of online communities can take you far, and you never know where your game will go. Hosting your game using a solution that enables and encourages far connections can do wonders for creating experiences that bring people together.

Speed is paramount

So you’ve found a provider who can guarantee you excellent uptime and significant geographical coverage – but with all that in mind, how fast can your players connect to one another across the globe?

An impressive network that’s always online is good to have, but with users spread worldwide, it means nothing without a lightning-fast connection. The latency between connection points on different continents will, in the end, shape the entire experience of playing online. If you’re currently in Dubai, playing a team shooter with your friends in Toronto and Shanghai, you want to make sure you’re fully synced with your team. When you click your mouse to take a shot, it has to instantly show up on every team member’s screen, or your failure in the game is imminent.

Historically, for example, lag on Vietnamese networks is very high”, says Lélia Peuchamiel, Product Manager at i3D.net. “In Vietnam, players have learned how to play with the lag, and they adjust their reaction time to latency. That is why we’re improving our connections in Asia, Africa, and South America – we want to avoid those challenges and make gaming accessible and easy”.

Latency can be caused by many elements – from the arrangement between the player and an Internet Service Provider to physical cables under the ocean. You cannot control every aspect of it, and some latency will always be present – but minimizing it by choosing a provider with a super-fast network and proven online stats to host your game online is the safest bet for you.

Ready to launch?

Have you found a solution that fits your needs and ideas with all of that in mind? Congratulations! You’re taking significant steps towards the big launch. But how to prepare for that important day? Check out our blog, Launching and fixing your online multiplayer game.

Main Take-Aways

With an ever-expanding global network and super low latency thanks to our Points of Presence in every major market, i3D.net can get you connected as directly and as quickly as possible, so your game can be played wherever, whenever.

Get in touch with our experts and discover what our network can do for your game.