So, you're starting your own game studio. This is an incredible opportunity! You and your team get to start fresh and build the game of your dreams! But, let's be honest, if you have just founded your own game studio, odds are that you're not a technical architect. You may have some technical know-how, but studio founders typically come from the creative side.
Launching a studio means that you have to find the right technical leader to join your team; and this was a major topic in a recent chat I had with three studio founders.
Even after you find a technical leader for your organization, you'll need to be involved in some of the key decisions. This means you need at least a surface-level understanding of what those decisions are, and how they affect either the type of game you can build, or the player experience that your team provides.
Here are some basics to think about:
Obviously, the primary method of getting your game into the hands of players is digital distribution. For that, you need a content delivery network (CDN) partner.
Ensuring that you have a scalable CDN that understands the traffic norms in the games industry is a must. Players all over the world will want easy access to your game, and a CDN with a global edge footprint provides that. This is especially important for players in countries with limited internet access.
This is a well-understood challenge that your technical leader should recognize. But the less-understood challenge pops up when you're trying to deliver personalized dynamic experiences.
Dynamic Content and Microservices
Game data, matchmaking multiplayer connectivity, and leaderboards are typically bundled together under the umbrella of "platform services."
Your platform services require high scalability to support a successful game. Depending on how your game is architected, the failure of any of your key services can either kill a player's experience, or make your game inaccessible due to an overload of API traffic. To ensure the performance, security, and reliability of the APIs that power your game, work with a CDN that has servers at the edge of the internet to help scale your core origin infrastructure by offloading logic such as authentication, caching, and redirects.
Once you publish a game, you are a target. It's that simple. I don't mean to scare you, just inform you so you can prepare. I've written and spoken extensively about security threats to the games industry, and Akamai has also published a State of the Internet / Security Report specifically on the games industry. These are all great resources to help better understand the threat landscape.
The key for you as a top decision-maker is to understand the fine line between player experience and helpful security. You obviously want to get people interested in your game and playing as quickly as possible, but you also want to protect them and the value (money, time, in-game items, and reputation) they build in their accounts.
Akamai recently partnered with esports organizer DreamHack to survey their hardcore player base on their feelings about and experiences with security. Here's how the numbers looked at a high level:
- We surveyed more than 1,250 players
- 81% play games every day
- 22% compete in esports
- 52% have had their accounts hacked
- 76% believe that the gaming studios and publishers are responsible for their security
There is plenty more data in there for you to look through, but the key point is that your players are looking to you to protect them. So, the decisions that you and your technical team make about security are complex and nuanced. If you want to build a studio for the long term, you'll need to find that delicate balance between time to play and security. Good partners, both in the technical lead you choose and the vendors you work with, can help you make the right call for your company.
Bringing It All Together
Building a new studio is a tremendous effort. Although there are many different competencies to juggle, it helps to understand how having a strong infrastructure can ensure that you build the game you're dreaming of -- and provide your players with the experience they demand.