What can the video game industry teach us about data management?

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In this special guest post, Murli Thirumale, Managing Director of Pure Storage’s Cloud Native Business Unit at Portworx, offers 7 gaming trends to watch out for, even if you never grab a controller. Murli is responsible for the strategy, operations and solutions that provide multi-cloud data services for Kubernetes. Murli joined Pure Storage following the company’s acquisition of Portworx, Inc. in September 2020.

Gaming is one of the fastest growing industries on the planet, estimated to earn more than $ 200 billion in revenue by 2023. But its contributions go far beyond entertainment. The industry is fertile ground for experimentation with many emerging trends and technologies. In games, experience and data never take a back seat, and if game developers can do it with millions of active users and terabytes of real-time streaming events, the company has to. to look closer.

How is the game winning?

At first the games came in cartridges. There was no “save your place”. Multiplayer games were limited to the number of controllers you could plug in. Game data had virtually no lifespan.

Today, the game is live, in high definition, runs on complex scripts, and connects people around the world in live-streamed tournaments. It is millions of people, simultaneously streaming terabytes of data, all with high expectations.

This makes the game natural to test what is possible in terms of resilience and efficiency. The developers have tested the limits of data storage and streaming capacities with virtual casinos and fantastic universes. And they face real issues such as user authentication, availability during peak traffic, and security of user transactions and data.

When staying relevant means delivering the richest user experiences possible, this industry makes a great case study for next-gen technologies. Here are 7 gaming trends to watch out for, even if you never grab a controller.

1. AI strengths – content generation and analytics – turn unstructured data into enhanced experiences

Game developers are finding ways to use AI for efficiency and quality, from enabling voice AI to performance marketing. Even more strikingly, the use of AI to automatically generate content fills landscapes much faster, resulting in subtle details that keep players more engaged than cookie-cutter repetitive graphics. In the past, a designer had to hand sketch and render 3D trees in a landscape.

Then there are the algorithms that process and interpret the data that is constantly being collected while users are playing. Neural networks learn from game logs to create new, harder levels and tweak games to improve engagement.

Modern games capture a variety of data: logs, interactions, events, and in-game transactions. Millions of active users generate millions of real-time events per hour that are “called home” for analysis. It is a lot unstructured data.

Managing these streaming data workloads effectively is critical to accelerating software development. Supercell, the company behind Clash of the clans leverages AWS analytics during development to gather aggregate insights from billions of events and terabytes of data and make gameplay improvements.

Supercell is known to be hyper efficient and rely on small autonomous teams because it generates huge revenues. Using tools like AI to automate repetitive tasks and data to generate insight can help businesses of all sizes free up development teams and designers to do what they do. better: innovate and create richer experiences for users and customers.

2. Quality assurance, testing and continuous improvement / continuous development (CI / CD) should be table stakes

Testing is essential in game production, but it’s not just player-centric. Rigorous testing reveals bugs and quirks that can drive ratings (and income) down. Together, continuous improvement pipelines and microservices environments allow vendors to push software updates to users in a transparent manner.

Look at what game publishers do – from combinatorial and functional testing techniques at the beginning to compatibility, regression and performance testing at later stages. When user experience is critical to success, having the right testing methods and the underlying infrastructure shouldn’t be an afterthought. A recent report from Testlio on the status of app testing indicated that half of users would not download an app with a 3-star rating.

Conclusion: cutting software testing is risky. That’s why it’s important for organizations with user experiences at the core to invest in log analysis pipelines to enable continuous, high-speed code testing to automate and accelerate functional testing, stress and ecosystem.

3. Track emerging breakthroughs to understand technology milestones and where the barriers lie.

Take the blockchain for example; game developers faced a lot of hurdles in the beginning, but they keep making inroads. These advancements could encourage adoption of the types of blockchain-based smart contracts we’ve been hearing about for years.

Why? Because blockchain can help prevent fraud and accelerate and ensure the integrity of transactions, among other things. For games of chance, where unbiased odds are vital, blockchain can provide verifiable randomness to ensure the results are fair. Use cases will only proliferate from here.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) provide a secure, interoperable way to buy, sell, and trade in-game assets that you earn, earn, or buy. While blockchain-based tokens have has encountered some challenges, especially in terms of scalability, digital currency transactions have the potential to be secure, fraud-proof and immediate. While this is just a simple step towards new and better innovations, it’s an inspiring trend to watch out for.

4. Deploy microservices and containers to enable continuous innovation

Microservice-based architectures allow developers to deliver software updates without disruption. Roblox, for example, is a gaming platform with over 150 million monthly active users. When developers need to update a service, doing so through microservices means millions of players aren’t taken offline mid-game. Individual functionality exists independently in containers, all stored and managed within a platform. This makes the possibilities for continuous innovation and collaboration virtually endless.

Microservices deliver benefits in both agility and resiliency, enabling IT teams to build and run the applications their users want and need to more easily stay ahead of the competition. By limiting any service’s dependencies on other parts of the system, you can quickly change microservice architectures in response to a feature request or a newly discovered bug.

5. Give your storage the possibility to grow without limits

What is behind multiplayer tournaments that connect large numbers of people across the world? Super scalable data solutions. At any given time, 10 million active users can play Fortnite, generating 92 million events per minute. And it’s fair a part. Multiply that by the degree of immediacy expected, and a delay that seems marginal elsewhere can be catastrophic.

With the dependence of online gaming networks on the performance of cloud-based data centers and the infrastructure necessary to keep them running, the industry is setting an example for how to manage quantities transparently. massive amounts of data. It requires a robust infrastructure. Many platforms rely on multiple data centers in different Availability Zones to maintain this seamless experience.

6. As-a-Service models are a win-win for your business and your users

The goal of game developers is to bring a game to market, monetize it, and keep users hooked. Success means finding ways to lower the barrier to entry, reduce friction, and sell subscriptions.

Subscription programs can be a win-win: users get access to the latest and greatest, and they don’t end up with older consoles in need of upgrades. In turn, gaming platforms get loyal users and sustainable business models.

However, success depends on a 100% user-centric model. It remains to be seen whether GaaS can economically support the bandwidth gamers will need from a Netflix-style model in which, McKinsey notes, users are likely to spend significantly more hours than they spend on Netflix.

The gaming experience emphasizes a tendency to experience rather than ownership that anyone can learn from. As Michael Blank at EA Sports put it, “The urge to own is supplanted by a need to experience things and a desire to try.”

7. Prepare for the cloud to drive everything

Games are migrating from consoles to cloud-based streaming services, providing users with high-resolution gaming over fast and reliable internet connections on any device, not just consoles. As gaming platforms themselves undergo digital transformations, many top studios rely on many dispersed data centers to deliver hundreds of gigabytes of data every second. Success will require even better data solutions, capable of supporting hybrid cloud models, and the power of 5G. A recent report from Deloitte offers insight any business could benefit from, as it highlights how cloud gaming can disrupt the media landscape.

There is an important lesson that underlines all of this about putting users first. Use them as a guide behind every script, test, UX design element, infrastructure investment, and subscription.

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