gaming industry is expected to triple in size to over USD 5 billion by 2025. This growth will be supported by numerous emerging trends, such as the advent of 5G as a facilitator to overcome network and latency issues, expectations of more immersive experiences, advancement of ML towards multiple use cases in gaming and stricter privacy of data, amongst many others. The greatest enabler to advancements in the entire gaming ecosystem will, however, be the cloud, with its ability to enhance infrastructure, data and collaboration capability.
The first episode of a special series, Moneycontrol Innovation Next, presented by Google Cloud, put the spotlight on how cloud computing is enabling an on-demand streaming and anywhere-anytime experiences for the gaming community. The discussion, titled ‘Get your game on cloud’, featured leading industry players – Anikendra Das, co-founder of MyFab11, a fast growing fantasy sports platform; Sourav Gupta, co-founder of GunjanApps Studios and Solutions, a company that develops and publishes games that are crafted to be fun, engaging and educational; Prithvi HV, Technical Lead at Gamezop, a multi-game platform where users can play popular games without installing them individually, and Rajesh Shewani, Head of Customer Engineering, Enterprise – Google Cloud India.
They debated how game producers could leverage the cloud to become profitable, go global and explore new revenue opportunities. “Most of our customers are looking at a cross platform strategy, which entails the ability to play on the web, on mobiles and of course, web3, etc.,” said Rajesh Shewani. “At Google Cloud, we are finding ways to facilitate the broader eco-system, right from creation of games to their launch and later, scaling, acquisition and monetization strategies.” He explained how cloud could play a role all along the chain.
Having managed to scale-up MyFab11 on a shoe-string budget and become profitable in 3 years, Anikendra Das shared, “Cloud has not just helped MyFab11 or other gaming platforms; the advent of cloud infrastructure has enabled any internet based business to become scalable and profitable like never before by enabling access to servers in a matter of minutes or just a few mouse clicks so games or internet businesses can be served to the world.”
With respect to the ability of cloud to support scale, Sourav Gupta, whose GunjanApps has reached out to children in around 180 countries in just six months, recounted, “We have a huge content library and we are looking forward to creating a single app that has 2-3 gigs of content, in multiple languages, using cloud. We have used a couple of games where we have multiplayers, using Google Cloud. We are also using Google Cloud to cater to personalised audiences.”
With children in the age group of ages two to nine years as target audience, he said, “Another challenge we face is that kids are typically given devices that are inferior in hardware quality and that limits our capabilities; so we are trying to create apps that are hardware agnostic and, at the same time, very secure.”
India’s casual gaming industry has seen a meteoric rise. There are 430 to 460 million gamers with more than 90% being mobile or casual gamers. Taking a rather non-traditional route to acquire users and opening up integration opportunities, Gamezop has been licencing html5 games from developers and integrating these in non-gaming platforms like Amazon, MX Player, Vodafone, Airtel, etc.
Prithvi explained, “We are facilitating companies to offer some gaming experience on their platforms to keep users engaged and this typically results in revenue growth. The challenge is that unlike video streaming, where the same video data is served to millions of users, in real-time games, different users are sharing different inputs and these have to be processed and stored. This requires light and reliable transport protocols because if it’s not real time enough, it results in broken user experiences. Pre-packaged cloud services have really helped us scale our product.”
The panelists discussed gaps in cloud technology and how these could be addressed towards creating more immersive online gaming experiences. They also discussed security and monetization issues, complex strategies, for the short term and long term, the impact of the cost and quality of hardware in the future of gaming, the metaverse and growing acceptance of a virtual culture as people seek community through games.
Looking ahead, India with its predominantly young population presents a great market for cloud gaming. Since cloud is the future, game developers are exploring what they can do to leverage it and cloud providers, like Google Cloud, are finding ways to facilitate and enable the ecosystem more effectively. Google Cloud has been supporting scaling game production and hosting, so that operational toil and time to market are reduced. Towards eliminating latency issues, Google has a service called Quilkin. Similarly, for game hosting, it has a dedicated game server – Agones. It has also worked on Open Match, to help game developers match players in multi-player games and Clean chat, which uses ML to eliminate or mitigate toxic behaviour in online multiplayer video games.