NoSQL makes multi-player, multi-location gaming real

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The gaming industry is at the forefront of the digital economy. Not only do companies offer games to people all over the world, they make it possible for them to play interactive, multi-player games no matter where they are. In many games, the system is also empowered to offer in-game micro transactions which can impact a player’s status in real time.

In a nutshell, multi-player games today allow players operating from multiple platforms to engage in an adventure with others in dispersed locations, with every player experiencing the ebb and flow in real time. There is no place for latency or delays in transmission, poor database performance is never acceptable and each player, no matter what their location, needs to be reading and writing to the database at the same time.

With an estimated 2 billion gamers logging in from anywhere in the world and expecting to be submerged in a virtual world in real time, this means there is no room for poor performance or unsynchronised databases. Conventional relational databases struggle to deliver this type of performance over dispersed data centres. The problem is there is no time to conveniently mirror databases in different parts of the world, it needs to happen in real time – to ensure every player experiences the ‘live’ game.

“NoSQL databases, on the other hand, are designed for this type of stress and can scale in real time to match the growth and global demands of the gaming industry,” says Barry de Waal, Chief Executive – Strategy & Sales at 9th BIT Consulting. “In fact, the world’s leading game developers and publishers, including Blizzard Entertainment, PopCap Games, Playtika, Jagex, Kabam, SGN and many more are using NoSQL databases.

“Specifically, two out of the three top mobile games of all time use Couchbase, the leader in NoSQL database technology. Blizzard Entertainment’s immensely successful World of Warcraft is one example.”

NoSQL not only enables gaming companies to improve the player experience, it also allows them to provide online platforms and services, offer micro transactions and create engaging social environments. De Waal notes there are six reasons why NoSQL is the platform of choice for global gaming companies, as well as other organisations requiring high performance, scalable and reliable database performance.

1. Scalability: When a game goes viral, it can reach tens of millions of users within a matter of weeks. This not only demands the ability to scale, but the ability to scale on demand without notice and without delay. Couchbase Server can automatically partition and rebalance data on demand with no downtime.

2. Locality: With the potential for tens of millions of users worldwide, it will be necessary to scale beyond a single data centre, deploying in multiple countries and/or regions to provide local data access. Couchbase offers multi-master, multi-site deployment across multiple data centres.

3. Performance: The most important aspect of any game is its player experience, and with rising expectations and the need for instant gratification, guaranteeing consistent, low-latency data access is critical. Couchbase Server uses an integrated object cache, memory-optimised indexes, and memory-to-memory replication for low-latency data access.

4. Availability: Player experience begins with availability. With users worldwide, a game not only has to be available 24x7x365, it has to be available everywhere with no single point of failure. With built-in replication, automatic failover, and cross data centre replication, Couchbase ensures data remains available, even if a node fails, or even if an entire data centre fails.

5. Cost: It must be possible to scale out, meet performance requirements, and guarantee availability without having to purchase bigger and bigger servers and pay for expensive proprietary licenses. A Couchbase open source subscription reduces licensing costs significantly.

6. Agility: Games require frequent updates for new features, new add-ons and new options to maintain user engagement, and with the need for a faster time-to-market, faster development. Couchbase allows developers to create faster by taking advantage of a flexible data model and a powerful SQL-based query language (N1QL) to modify data and queries on demand – all with less code.

As the leader in NoSQL computing, Couchbase turns the traditional database infrastructure on its head, offering performance and scalability, as well as reliability relational systems are still trying to emulate. The more complex the database problem, the more NoSQL answers all the right questions.

Source: Barry de Waal, Chief Executive – Strategy & Sales, 9th BIT Consulting

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