With annual revenues in online gaming approaching $100 billion, competition is heating up and it’s getting harder to hook players into a game. Today’s players demand real-time responsiveness, more immersive graphics, and ever-more-exciting interactions with fellow gamers. That poses a dual challenge for game makers, who must pack larger and larger volumes of data — Big Data — into their games, while accessing and manipulating that data even faster.
As a result, more and more online gaming companies are turning to in-memory computing. Ditching disk-bound databases, they’re storing game objects and event data in ultra-fast RAM because — thanks to plummeting RAM prices — there’s no longer an excuse for forcing players to endure the annoyance of waiting for games to talk to a traditional database. In fact, at Terracotta, we’re seeing online gaming companies use BigMemory, our flagship in-memory data solution, to address three of their biggest Big Data challenges:
1. Better, faster gameplay: Great games personalize their experiences based on a player’s preferences and gaming history. They also deliver complex interactions between the player, the environment, and other players. Top game makers are now using BigMemory to manage the exploding volume of data associated with these objects in machine memory, virtually eliminating slow disk interactions and greatly improving performance.
2. More realistic graphics: Online game makers traditionally relied on caching to deliver in-game graphics. Unfortunately, caching keeps only a small subset of a game’s landscape in memory to be served up quickly. Gaming companies have turned to BigMemory to store ALL of their maps and frames — terabytes of data — in memory for instant access. The result is dynamic frame generation based on events and player actions, adding freshness and excitement each time a game is played. .
3. Platform portability (with Java): Java is attractive to game makers because it’s easily ported to any JVM-supported OS, but Java has not traditionally been the preferred choice for gaming engines due to performance concerns, especially around garbage collection. With BigMemory, garbage collection performance problems are a thing of the past, and game makers can finally take full advantage of Java’s ubiquity. An in-memory, Java-based development environment greatly reduces development costs while opening up new revenue streams on previously unsupported platforms.
Terracotta’s flagship in-memory data solution, BigMemory, has been successfully deployed by several global online gaming companies to deliver seamless gaming experiences with lightning-fast performance. If you think your game and/or gaming platform might benefit from in-memory technology, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or write a comment below. Also, check out this video — and beware: When you start using BigMemory, it can drive competitors crazy!