Cloud Basics: Edge Game Servers

Feb 1, 2024

Conceptual rendering of Edge Game Servers with title text atop a blue square centered in the middle of the image
Conceptual rendering of Edge Game Servers with title text atop a blue square centered in the middle of the image
Conceptual rendering of Edge Game Servers with title text atop a blue square centered in the middle of the image

Cloud infrastructure may seem far from online game backend, but game servers running on edge infrastructure are emerging as a pivotal technology, transforming how games are hosted and experienced by players around the world.

This guide aims to demystify what game servers on edge cloud; exploring their definition, differences from traditional servers, applications in gaming, and their various benefits.

Additionally, by delving into this topic, we also address related concerns, such as why game servers may go down or shut down and what constitutes game server hosting.

What are Edge Game Servers?

Edge servers are computing gateways located at the “edge” of a network, closer to the end-users. This proximity significantly reduces latency, a critical factor in online gaming where milliseconds can impact the game’s outcome.

Edge servers process data near the source of its generation rather than relying on a central data center, enabling faster responses and real-time processing.

Difference Between Edge and Traditional Public Cloud

The primary difference between edge and traditional public cloud lies in their location and the resultant impact on performance.

Traditional servers, often located in centralized data centers, can introduce latency due to the physical distance from the user. As data centers are often located where it makes sense for them to be – in locations with plenty of land, often far away from urban centers where players are increasingly located.

Edge servers, conversely, are strategically placed closer to users, offering reduced latency, faster data processing, and a more localized approach to data handling.

For example, Edgegap led a world’s first – a game server running on true edge via CIN’s and Colt’s edge infrastructure (named Street Arc). Specifically, the first location was in City of London’s busy King Cross intersection where, per Colt, some more than “45,000 Londoners [lives] and work in the area.

What can an Edge server run?

When it comes to hardware, edge servers are as versatile as they are similar in nature to traditional servers used in gaming, be they virtual machines or bare metal,  and thus can run various types of servers, including web servers, application servers, and game servers.

In the context of gaming, edge servers can host game instances, manage player data, and provide other necessary backend services to ensure a seamless gaming experience.

Edge Computing in Gaming

Edge computing in gaming refers to leveraging edge servers to enhance online gaming experiences. By processing game data closer to players, edge computing reduces lag, improves game speed, and ensures more stable and responsive gameplay. This is particularly crucial in fast-paced, multiplayer games where real-time interaction is key.

Does Edge Play Video Game?

Edge computing doesn’t directly play video games but significantly enhances the gaming experience by supporting the infrastructure necessary for smooth, lag-free gameplay.

What are the Challenges of Adopting Edge for Games?

One of the primary challenges is variability – as the decentralized nature of edge environments may lead to inconsistencies in performance and available resources.

Additionally, managing the distribution and synchronization of game state across multiple edge locations introduces complexities in maintaining real-time communication and data consistency. Game developers must grapple with optimizing their game code and networking protocols to accommodate the diverse and potentially limited computational capacities of edge devices.

Finally, security concerns can become more pronounced in a distributed edge environment, requiring robust strategies to safeguard both the game data and the infrastructure against potential threats.

Balancing these technical intricacies while delivering a seamless gaming experience poses a significant hurdle for developers embracing edge infrastructure for game servers.

The upside, is there are now orchestration platforms, such as Edgegap, who are dedicated to building, maintaining and thus solving these challenges – introducing the benefits of edge infrastructure to game developers regardless of the scale of their game and studio.

Is Edge Good for Gaming?

Absolutely!

Edge computing addresses one of the biggest challenges in online gaming: latency. By minimizing the distance between the server and the player, edge computing significantly reduces lag, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable gaming experience. This is especially beneficial in competitive gaming and eSports, where every millisecond counts.

This is proven by Edgegap’s use of edge infrastructure to lower latency by up to 58% vs traditional public cloud and delivers up to 78% “real-time” latency (sub-50 ms) vs. traditional public cloud for a AAA studio.

Why Use an Edge Server?

Using an edge server in gaming offers several advantages:

  1. Reduced Latency: Proximity to players means faster data transmission, essential for real-time gaming.

  2. Scalability: Edge servers can easily scale to handle sudden spikes in player numbers, maintaining performance during peak times.

  3. Improved Security: By processing data locally, edge servers can offer enhanced security measures, protecting sensitive player data.

  4. Cost-Efficiency: Reduced data transmission to central servers can lower bandwidth costs and improve efficiency.

Benefits of Edge Servers in Gaming

Beyond the above advantages, edge servers also offer:

  • Better Player Experience: Consistent, low-latency gaming attracts and retains players.

  • Global Accessibility: Players from different regions experience similar gameplay quality.

  • Load Balancing: Distributes traffic evenly, preventing server overloads.

  • Data Localization: Complies with regional data laws by storing data locally.

Why Game Servers Go Down / Shut Down

Game servers may go down or shut down due to various reasons, including server overload, maintenance, technical glitches, or cyberattacks.

Edge servers can mitigate some of these issues through better load distribution and localized data handling.

But game servers being unavailable is only part of the challenges – sometimes, large increase in player demand creates bottlenecks in the network. This is where, likely, the game studio’s orchestration ability to scale fails.

What is Game Server Hosting?

Game server hosting involves providing the necessary infrastructure and services to host online multiplayer games. It ensures that games are accessible to players worldwide, with minimal latency and high uptime. Hosting can be done on traditional central servers or more modern edge servers, with the latter offering the benefits of proximity and reduced latency.

Conclusion

Edge game servers represent a significant advancement in online gaming technology.

By bringing the server closer to the gamer, they offer enhanced performance, lower latency, and a superior gaming experience.

As online gaming continues to grow and evolve, the adoption of edge computing technologies is likely to become a standard, benefiting players and developers alike.

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