Biz Tips: How Does Data Power Modern Video Games?

Biz Tips: How Does Data Power Modern Video Games?

Biz Tip:

How Does Data Power Modern Video Games?

With an estimated 3.24 billion gamers around the world and a market expected to reach $545.98 billion by 2028, gaming data is a valuable resource that can help game development companies optimize and improve business performance.

It’s also notable that, in recent years, online video games have overtaken traditional hardware-based games in many cases. Games are now streamed over the internet, including multiplayer functionality and digital wallets to facilitate in-game purchases.

Here are just a few of the different ways data is powering modern video games from start to finish.

Level 1: Game Development

Graphics

Visual variety and detail offer realistic, engaging gaming experiences. Advancements in technologies related to motion capture, real-time rendering, and photogrammetry have had a major effect on the way developers create gaming visual effects, helping to remove the repetition that can lead to burnout and boredom.

Further, improvements in motion capture technology support the creation of characters with more natural facial expressions, movements, and emotions, while real-time rendering calculates images at top speeds so that scenes appear to be occurring in real time. Photogrammetry can take photographic data and convert it to realistic digital models for enhanced scenery and landscapes—a far cry from the 8-bit animations of the ‘80s.

AI

Game developers use AI in several different ways, from automatic content generation and scenery population to intelligent game and character design. AI can be used to render images much faster than traditional methods and is the basis for intelligent game design using deep learning techniques. AI also contributes to more realistic experiences, such as facial expressions and gestures and pathfinding. Tools like TensorFlow help game developers create precise object detection in scenes for lifelike, immersive gaming experiences, while pathfinding can be used to identify an obstacle-free path a game character can travel.

Containers

Containers and microservices environments have been game-changers for modern application and game development. These architectures support improved development, faster iterations, and increased scalability, all of which enable game developers to meet the demands of today’s gaming environments. Roblox, arguably the biggest gaming platform out there, runs on containers with Portworx® by Pure Storage®.

Containers are leveraged for game engines, graphs, monitoring, load balancing, and logging. Container images deploy instantly, and since individual features exist independently in containers, updates can be delivered without disruption. Developers can iterate and roll out improvements to their audience faster, ensuring gamers always have access to the latest version.

Blockchain Development Networks

In blockchain game development networks, the core logic and data are governed by smart contracts that can be analyzed and reused. Blockchain, by design, is decentralized so no single individual or organization owns or maintains it. This ensures that no one can change or manipulate the data.

Without blockchain, players who make in-game purchases or earn rewards don’t necessarily own these digital assets; game developers can remove or change them at will. But smart contracts could make players the true owners of their in-game assets. Because you can trace the history of each in-game asset, blockchain also helps prevent fraud and assure the integrity of transactions in gaming.

Level 2: Gameplay

Optimization and Monetization

Modern games capture a variety of data, including player account profiles, game logs, events, advertisements, and player interactions. Game developers can collect data from sessions to create better experiences for their players, while valuable metrics about player behavior, length of gameplay, and gaming difficulties can be used to optimize monetization strategies and improve game design.

One major use case for data analytics is personalized experiences for each gamer. Algorithms can process and interpret data from users to customize experiences for each player and create new, more difficult levels that improve user engagement.

Algorithms for Randomization

Some games are based on chance and probability. In video games, randomization is used to add unpredictability and variety, ensuring that game behavior changes every time the game is played. For example, an algorithm for surprise enemy attacks creates an element of uncertainty that makes the game challenging and thrilling.

Error Reporting

Testing is one of the most important aspects of game development. Monitoring tools help developers uncover bugs, resolve errors, and identify latency problems and performance issues before they affect player experience.

With the hardware-based systems of the past, like the NES or Sega Genesis, games had to go through rigorous testing before their release. These game systems couldn’t leverage online connectivity for patches or updates. As a result, if a bug made it through, it would likely stay that way until the next release. (Not all secret cheats were intentional!)

Today, improvements happen constantly, thanks to data. That’s not to say that game testing doesn’t happen, but “day 0” updates are common on modern games. In some cases, patches and bug fixes are pushed out the day the game releases. Monitoring tools can be used to report a wide variety of data related to unexpected player issues, including information on device type, orientation, battery level, GPU state, CPU info, and OS information to help you find and fix issues faster.

These tools also give teams visibility and help them improve performance and detect trends and anomalies across projects, teams, and organizations.

Digital Wallets

Imagine if you could have transferred the points you earned in Zelda into another game, like Mario Bros. It’s an interoperability that’s possible with tokens, digital wallets, and the blockchain. Digital wallets allow gamers to store credit and debit card information in the wallet, making in-game payments simpler, safer, and more secure. Players can add or withdraw money to make purchases quickly so they can get back to the game. It’s a far cry from carrying around cups of quarters at the arcade.

Local crypto tokens and other tokens powered by blockchain are extremely secure and private. Unlike traditional payment methods, payments are discrete and not linked to the payee’s identity. Like digital wallets, cryptocurrencies can be accessed instantly, allowing gamers to make fast and secure payments.

Level 3: Live Streaming to the Masses

Bandwidth over Networks

The cloud gaming experience relies on responsiveness, as well as the ability of gamers to communicate back and forth with cloud servers and devices at lightning-fast speeds. But when data must be sent to a cloud server to be processed within large data centers—which are often far from the original source of the data—delays and lags can result in a negative gaming experience.

Mobile edge computing uses several small data hubs deployed closer to the data instead of large data centers, resulting in a better, faster gaming experience. Instead of being sent to a central server, game commands can be processed at a nearby hub and returned, avoiding the negative impact of high latency. Edge servers provide a better, more efficient way to synchronize gaming experiences.

5G

Gaming companies have an enormous customer base with millions of gamers concurrently streaming terabytes of data. Network latency can negatively affect the player experience, causing delays and buffering that can frustrate gamers—sometimes even causing them to abandon the game.

Cloud gaming services typically recommend between 10Mbps and 35Mbps when streaming games, especially if rendering in 4K. But 5G can provide speeds several times faster. This is especially important for multiplayer games, where players expect to keep their experience in sync.

With 5G networks, the response time between a user request and an action is much faster than in previous generations of wireless networks, resulting in lower latency, less lag, and smoother rendering during cloud-based gameplay.

Multiplayer Games

Home console multiplayer games used to limit you to the number of controllers you could plug in. Now, the widespread availability of broadband connections and increasing internet speeds make online multiplayer gaming central to the industry. In many ways, it’s brought back the sense of community that gamers enjoyed in arcades.

In multiplayer sessions, data can help match players with similar skill sets. A beginner who’s still learning how to play the game could become frustrated and give up if they’re matched with an experienced player. But big data, analytics, and algorithms like TrueSkill help with better matchmaking, ensuring the game remains balanced and fun.

Boost Game Development and Performance with Portworx by Pure Storage

Pure Storage solutions give game developers storage performance and reliability that’s easy to use, container friendly, and available as a service. Scalable, persistent Kubernetes storage with Portworx provides container-granular storage, multi-cloud migrations, and critical data security. Combine reliable storage, rapid data recovery with AI-driven predictive support to ensure business continuity and game uptime.

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