Arbitrium: the deciding factor for multiplayer games
Sep 2, 2020
Edgegap Arbitrium was designed to help game studios lower latency, improve fairness, and increase the reach of game titles through the help of edge computing and machine learning.
Currently, most game servers are hosted in a very traditional way, in centralized data centers. However many players are usually far from this location, causing lag issues. Further, you may live in a country where you can’t reach these servers at all! This traditional method of hosting game servers also means that game studios may run game servers that may not be well utilized.
Is it possible to use a different type of architecture to host online games? What if you could move the infrastructure to where the players are, and only run game servers when and where players were ready to play?
Arbitrium is a Latin legal term meaning a judgement (or the decision) of an arbitrator. And that is the role that Arbitrium plays, it makes a judgement call of the best location to deploy gaming servers, based on where the players are located. Launched in early 2019, Arbitrium has access to hundreds of regions worldwide through Edgegap’s edge locations aggregator, OneEdge.
Arbitrium connects via API to the game studio’s matchmaker so it can act as the arbitrator between players waiting to start playing a game and the game services. It will start a game instance as needed and even monitor results throughout the duration of the match. This video gives a brief overview of Arbitrium:
Fairness and Lag
Every gaming studio wants its players to have the best possible experience playing their game, and one way to do this is to reduce lag. Lag is a delay occurring between a player’s action and the result of this action in a game. Many studies show that network latency (lag) affects games and players’ performance. These conditions are observable in all video games because of the traditional method used to host game servers.
Traditionally, game studios use Virtual Machines (VMware and OpenStack) either in large data centers or in the public cloud. The challenge with using VMs is that they still are a highly centralized environment, which makes it hard to provide a game server close to players to get the latency needed to combat lag. They also can be hard to scale quickly, even if you have a reserve it takes time to boot the VMs and make the services available to players. But using a modern, container-based approach can up-level this game very quickly.
Arbitrium addresses the problem of lag with a modern approach. Its patented technology helps chose the best location on-the-fly to deploy game servers. It does this via API integration with the game studio’s matchmaker server. The matchmaker server provides the IP addresses of the players who have been matched to face each other in a game to Arbitrium. Within seconds, Arbitrium uses multiple data points and measurements to make the decision of where the game server should be deployed to provide the best game experience for all players.
Arbitrium’s Modern Approach
Edgegap’s OneEdge uses edge computing infrastructures to increase the number of locations available on which to deploy game servers and moves the infrastructures to where the players are. In the image below, a zone delimiter is drawn around the player’s locations, each available location in that area is given a score based on Arbitrium’s proprietary algorithm that uses a mix of latency, jitter, packet drop, sessions context, etc. Once the best server location is chosen, the game is launched for these players.
This white paper evaluates the results of re-processing live game data to determine if the decisions made by Arbitrium would have reduced lag and improved fairness in real-world matches. The results were stunning: 36% reduction in latency for relay-based matches and a 66% improvement in fairness. Here’s one example of a match between players on the West Coast. In the original game, the game studio chose Washington State for the relay server. Edgegap suggested using LA and reduced the average latency, RTT gap, and lag and made this a much fairer match for both players.
Global Reach and Cost Savings
Edgegap can also help game studios tap into new geographical markets by providing a better player experience for players who do not live close to the centralized data centers currently being used. Imagine being able to have game services ready to deploy, but only actually fire up a game server when players are ready to play, on any continent.
This not possible with the traditional centralized approach to hosting games, you must use a container-based approach to take advantage of edge computing. By moving to containers, you don’t have to build reserve infrastructure and deal with allocation to handle the demand for your game. Containers can be started in a few seconds, sometimes less. You only deploy a server when you have players ready to start the game, and this can save money.
Additionally, if you wish to launch to new geography you don’t need to build out a traditional infrastructure in that location. You can deploy a modern container-based to that location when you have players waiting for your game. This type of on-demand infrastructure opens new markets for games by improving the player experience globally.
It is possible to take game architecture closer to where the players are, improving lag and fairness while at the same time-saving money and opening markets in new geographies. Arbitrium does this by using modern container-based architecture at the edge, and a proprietary algorithm to help game studios find the best place to launch game servers.
This results in happier players as server instances run in the best location for player experience, as well as cost savings from only running instances when they are needed. Edgegap can help you migrate your current services to a container-based solution that leverages our platform’s strength and helps you keep your players happy. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re looking to benefit from the next generation of gaming infrastructure! Get in touch at email@example.com
This text was created in collaboration with Gina Rosenthal, digitalsunshinesolutions.com