The Stack Archive

Competitive gaming online requires capable cloud services

Mon 22 Feb 2016

math-marcouxMath “Lejuke” Marcoux, eSports general manager and technical manager at SetToDestroyX, a professional eSports organisation and management team, looks at the importance of maintaining high-performance gaming through a reliable and flexible cloud…

There’s a game on tonight that will be watched by hundreds of thousands of fans. Many are hardcore enough to be watching from far-flung time zones around the globe, waking up in the night to see their favorite athletes compete. It isn’t the NFL, the NBA or Premier League soccer; it’s Major League Gaming and competitive gaming events that these fans are tuning in for. The stadiums for these events, often held at halls in convention centers (or even at actual stadiums), are really the virtual online spaces where players and viewers gather to partake in the games.

Just as a traditional sporting event requires a profound amount of attention paid to infrastructure – from preparing the playing field, to delivering the televised broadcast, to ensuring a high quality fan experience – the production and online broadcast of an eSports event requires immensely capable IT infrastructure as well.

The eSports industry is currently undergoing a wild expansion, increasing the demand for reliable hosting and cloud services that make those broadcasts possible. Competitive players understand the necessity of readying themselves with the hottest equipment both in-game and out – including high performance gaming computers and interface devices.

The infrastructure at the backbone of these online events must deliver that same world-class level of performance. The motivation is there: the rise of competitive gaming and streamed online events is seeing a parallel rise in tournament prize pools, lucrative gamer sponsorships, and fan base growth which feeds revenue for these events. In August, a DOTA 2 tournament held at KeyArena in Seattle set a record by featuring a total prize pool of over $18 million, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down.

Competitive gaming is now a big money industry, and businesses hosting and streaming events must implement and depend on professional-grade infrastructure. In our experience streaming events like these, we’ve come to prefer cloud hosting and cloud computing providers (we use DreamCompute, from DreamHost) that let you build your own servers as needed.

When you build your own servers you retain total control, and control is essential when issues arise and when you have specific needs. The stresses on servers streaming these events are higher than ever before because the growth of eSports means so many more people are playing and watching. We run servers for competitive games like Call of Duty, Counter Strike, Smite and League of Legends, servers for MineCraft, voice communication servers running Teamspeak, and others. Businesses operating in our industry need to be able to host a wide variety of streams and services with no lagging and no crashing, especially during those massively attended events.

Any gamer knows that control is synonymous with capability – being able to make deft and precise movements better than your opponent is everything and usually means victory. It’s the same with cloud-hosted streaming: the ability to customize and deploy your own cloud servers of a huge benefit. If you have a bug, you can fix it yourself, which, if you’re technically inclined, is much preferred and quicker than dealing with a provider’s tech support.

We selected our provider because we wanted to actually build our own servers, down to the choice of RAM and CPU, and control the networking and configuration ourselves, though every business that depends on cloud hosting and computing to deliver its product or service will have its own preferences and needs. Being able to easily procure reliable and scalable resources to meet those business needs is a great advantage. Like those eSport competitors wielding the special equipment that best compliments their fast twitch reflexes and playing style, these businesses should recognize how important it is to find technology providers that let them bring out their best. Self-managed cloud and hosting services can deliver the flexibility they need.

As Vince Lombardi – that great coach from before the word sports had an “e” in front of it – once said, “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” From competitors of all kinds preparing for matches both physical and virtual, to businesses in the hosted cloud ready to win more users, smart preparation and dexterous control are the keys to success.

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