Game Servers on the Edge
Our Investment in Edgegap
Online multiplayer video games require extremely fast internet connectivity and information transfer between individual players and the centralized servers hosting matches. These game servers are typically hosted at dedicated server locations. When players enter the game to join a lobby, a game matchmaking algorithm creates a match with selected players and attempts to group them regionally by proximity to the gamer server.
These dedicated server sites are usually hosted on public cloud infrastructure or sometimes private servers, but they are limited in number. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud provider with the largest footprint globally, has 22 data centers across the world. Though those are impressive numbers for cloud data centers, a new technical phenomena called “Edge Computing” is likely to disrupt the way data, applications, and games are hosted.
What is Edge Computing? Edge Computing is the notion of having smaller distributed compute nodes that exist at the edge of internet networks, as opposed to centralized cloud servers that exist today. By pushing computing power closer to the consumers using the applications of the internet, better, faster, more reliable, and cheaper services can be delivered.
In the future, edge compute nodes could be as small as a closet room in an office building or a shoebox-sized container sitting on a streetlamp. There are multiple use case applications for edge computing such as AR/VR, autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, and rich content management. One of the most interesting applications, due to its fast internet connectivity requirements, is multiplayer online gaming.
This is where Edgegap comes in. Lag is an extremely common and disruptive issue in online multiplayer games due to the current internet infrastructure’s inability to meet connectivity demands. We’ve previously invested in Haste to combat this same frustration in the market from an end-consumer perspective. Edgegap takes a new approach in targeting this pain point by attempting to leverage edge computing to host game servers physically closer to the players in a given match.
Edgegap helps game studios leverage cloud and edge infrastructure for hosting and deploying game servers on demand. When people want to join a lobby to play a multiplayer game, the game’s matchmaker will leverage Edgegap to automatically determine and deploy to the best hosting location.
To accomplish this, Edgegap maintains live connections to hundreds (eventually tens of thousands) of cloud servers and edge nodes. Once they know which players are selected for a match, Edgegap performs connectivity tests between potential hosting locations and the players. These tests, that happen within a matter of mili-seconds, determine which hosting location to use for a given match. It then handles each instance lifecycle from the beginning to the end of the match.
The key value to game studios is that the most optimal hosting locations can be selected and served through Edgegap in real-time for individual matches in an automated fashion. This helps studios offload infrastructure management, reduce server costs, and provide the best experience for their players. If you’re a game studio that’s interested in Edgegap, I’d suggest reading this case study recently published with Ubisoft that goes into further detail on the technology and measured improvements.
Spike Laurie, Esports Venture Director at Hiro Capital describes the value well:
“As someone who has been working in esports and games for almost eight years, I love Edgegap’s technology because it goes beyond esports, right to the very foundation of engaging multiplayer gamers. As a gamer, you need to be confident that your actions are acknowledged and handled quickly and correctly by the game server. Edgegap not only finesses this core tenet but does so elegantly and efficiently, greatly improving the experience for everyone.
Edgegap’s solution provides meaningful value for game publishers and developers by improving a core retention mechanic, resulting directly in a more engaged playerbase.”
Edgegap is headed by Mathieu Duperré, a highly technical founder with decades of infrastructure and cloud experience at companies like Cisco, Openwave, and Bell Mobility. Mathieu started Edgegap a little over a year ago and has grown it with tenacity and grit. We’re thrilled to be working with Mathieu and the rest of the Edgegap team.
We’re also pleased to have Hiro Capital and Han Park joining us in partnering with Edgegap moving forward. Edgegap has a lot to offer game studios and, ultimately, players themselves. It will be exciting to see Edgegap’s technology continue to be leveraged in this accelerating industry.