Video gaming has long been considered the forte of countries like Japan and USA. However, things have been quietly changing during the last few years with the fledgling gaming industry in India growing exponentially and valued at $890 million. In 2010, there were just a little over 25 gaming companies in India, while the more recent tally stands at about 250 companies now, with several of them being start-ups. Industry revenue is expected to touch approximately $244 million this year and it’s also impressive to note that around 40 indigenous Indian game titles were released across platforms during the last financial year.
The main challenge faced by start-ups in this field is matching the high technical quality and complex nature of popular international games. Other challenges that game developers and game publishing companies have to face is to support multiple platforms and devices, players expecting to receive instant notifications in different scenarios, games going from few users to viral in a matter of days, and trying to reach audiences in multiple geographies.
Microsoft Azure offers a number of alternatives to deal with these challenges, allowing the game developers to fully focus on building the game and not on how to provision the infrastructure to support authentication, computing, data or media requirements. Microsoft Azure provides a seamless experiences and the data driven insight required to drive engagement for revenue generation. Microsoft Azure can power game services like user account, identity management, achievements, and preferences by device, platform and game; personalization, localization, etc. It can be effectively used for complex computation like game session management in cross platform, multi-player turn based scenarios. It can help in optimization and scale as per DAU (daily active users). Further, it can be used for game AI (Artificial intelligence) and server side game logic. Additionally, Azure can also help publishers in creating a single point for in app purchases and monetization.
Want to see what the inside of a cross platform game looks like powered by Azure? Check out the below diagram:
Azure can be effectively used in the following gaming scenarios:
1. DevOps – Game studios or Indie Developers DevOps can rely on Azure as Visual Studio Online provides a powerful and seamless integration environment with Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs. Azure enables cross platform developer operations, including agile development and test scenarios.
2. Compute and Scale – Both IAAS and PAAS using VMs and cloud services provides a powerful compute and elastic scalability options. Game developers can leverage Azure for turn based, Async Game play, game state management, timer, scheduler, game AI (Artificial Intelligence) and logic.
3. Game Services –Identity, end user account management and authentication can be easily managed for cross platform games using Azure built in services. Sendgrid enables email, Twilio can help integrate SMS and Voice calls. Social networks like Facebook,Twitter, Microsoft Account, and Google Account can even be managed through Azure Mobile Apps Services. Custom Account management is also possible through the above mentioned services. Score management, Leader board, Matchmaking, achievements, game artifacts Storage, Roaming data are just a few that can be implemented using Azure App services, worker and web roles and custom API management services.
4. Publisher Services – Game Analytics and Telemetry are a publisher’s best friend to monetize their games. Application Insights provides great support for Game Analytics and can diagnose crashes so that developers can fix the problems before they have a significant impact on games as well as analyze usage patterns to find out how players play the games and collect important insights. Azure Event hubs and Microsoft Azure IoT services enables Game Telemetry using Microsoft Azure. HDInsight can provide new insights from unstructured raw game data. With Azure Machine Learning, millions of daily data-rich objects including preferred game modes, game length etc. can be analyzed and processed with trained and predictive models for enhanced end user experiences.
Cloud design patterns and architecture for game development
Microsoft Patterns & Practices recently released a book “Cloud Design Patterns: Prescriptive Architecture Guidance for Cloud Applications” that describes different cloud architectures and the problem areas each architecture is trying to solve. All of these described patterns are useful in gaming scenarios and should be considered.
Playblazer, a firm which has worked with leading game studios by building and scaling some of their bestselling games, has been using Microsoft Azure primarily for infrastructure. Nikhil Soman, CEO of Playblazer, shared his experience with the launch of Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1,in November last year. The game saw 2,50,000 downloads on the day of launch and jumped up to half a million downloads the very next day. Azure helped the smooth transitioning of this kind of leap in numbers and proved to be extremely scalable, which would not have been possible had they been using their own server.
Sangram Patil, Chief Marketing Officer of Dumadu games, an end to end service provider in mobile game development, spoke about their experience using Microsoft Azure since two years. Dumadu has recently transitioned to multiplayer games and they found the Azure servers are very supportive given the higher connectivity levels required for this transition.
We’ve seen the impact Azure can make on gaming firms in terms of technology and infrastructure leading to better quality and thereby revenue generation. Microsoft Azure can be effectively used in several diverse gaming scenarios as discussed above. So with this advent of Azure cloud computing, the Indian gaming industry is coming of age and is expected to give international gaming companies a run for their money. With the presence of immense creative talent in the country, and with skills spread across IT, testing and design, it looks like there is no stopping the Indian gaming industry.