If you know anything about what early video games were like—Pong, anyone?—then you’re probably amazed to see what they’ve become today. Today’s games are more complex, more visually appealing, and yes, they take more resilient networks in order to operate.
What’s equally as impressive—and what many people don’t often think about when having a conversation about video games—is the profound impact that gaming is having on the data center industry.
Much of the video game industry has adopted the extremely lucrative online streaming model which is fueling growth for data centers. In fact, according to market projections in the UK, “gaming could count for 30% of the overall revenue of the UK technology industry by 2020.” It’s a safe bet that the market won’t be stagnant in North America, either.
And what channels all that online gaming revenue? You guessed it: data centers.
Take, for instance, the popular massive multiplayer online (MMO) game World of Warcraft. In 2009, its network ran through ten data centers and 20,000 systems, and used 1.3 petabytes of storage. Again, that was in 2009.
In the meantime, MMOs have changed, with many moving from a subscription model to a free-to-play model that makes money by allowing users to play for free, but sells services in-game that enhance the game’s experience (new levels, free lives, etc.). However, offering such services requires even more sophistication from data centers—it requires bigger systems that have the ability to do more complicated things.
And that’s just MMOs. Data centers also handle “games on demand” that players download through their Xboxes and Playstations, as well as those games like Words with Friends and Candy Crush Saga that you download to your phone. It’s not hard to see why services in this industry take up so much server space now, and will require even more data center capabilities in the future.
As the gaming industry grows and becomes more complex, it’s essential for streaming video game providers to think about a strong colocation partner who can enable growth throughout the lifecycle of the game, the developer, and the provider. The changing face of video games today goes hand-in-hand with a need for more robust data center solutions, and it’s essential for those in the gaming industry to take their data center needs into account when thinking about future growth.