Gamers don’t like to wait
Massively multiplayer online games should grab player’s attention in the first seconds. If the game doesn’t load or slows down, it will fail. Therefore, Wargaming developers understood that download speed is one of the most important components of a game’s success for a gamer back in 2010, at the stage of launching their flagship project, World of Tanks.
In order to keep the interest of the players, it was necessary to provide the Tanks with high quality, reliable, and scalable infrastructure. So more than 10 years ago, Wargaming felt the need for a vendor capable of delivering all their content.
How to keep the game popular
- Create a quality product.
- Minimize loading delays for gamers.
- Balance the load on game servers during peak hours, for example, when loading the next patch.
- Deliver game content anywhere in the world.
What challenge did Wargaming face?
Initially, the majority of World of Tanks players were located in the CIS and Eastern Europe. Accordingly, the first step was to deploy a content delivery network in this market. Global CDN providers didn’t have a developed infrastructure in Eastern Europe and the CIS and couldn’t provide developers with the necessary service.
“When Wargaming turned to us for help, their goal was to reduce the time-to-play—time the end user needs to launch the game,” says Sam Davis, Vice President of Products at G-Core Labs. “Without a high-quality CDN, it wouldn’t have been possible to reach this goal in these regions.”
The G-Core Labs network was perfectly suited to the customer’s needs.
“Specially for Wargaming, we additionally built a P2P network and organized a direct interface with the infrastructure of the largest telecommunications operators in the CIS—Beeline, MTS and MegaFon,” adds Sam Davis.
The main advantage of G‑Core Labs
However, Wargaming not only needed a flexible provider with excellent performance, but the vendor also had to be able to handle all peak loads.
“One of the first goals we set for ourselves when we were building our own infrastructure was to handle traffic surges that gaming and entertainment companies usually face,” says Sam Davis. “For example, traffic during downloads of Wargaming releases grew at times, with peaks reaching 2 Tbps.”
Many providers could provide their customers with a maximum bandwidth of only 600 Gbps and cut the limits after exceeding it.
It was important for Wargaming that the future vendor doesn’t limit traffic during peak hours. Proposals from other companies didn’t meet the requirements, while the capacity of the G‑Core Labs network could easily handle all the peaks.
“We can easily withstand the load during the release of the new game patches, which occur once every six weeks and last 3–5 days. The total capacity of the G-Core Labs network of 50 Tbps allows us to cope with any load, no matter how powerful.”
Three important additional features
The developed infrastructure and large network capacity were not enough for Wargaming. Specially for them, the G-Core Labs team implemented three important additional functions.
On average, one World of Tanks update has a size of 1–2 GB. Initially, the update content wasn’t located on the CDN nodes closest to the player but on the origin servers and was requested only at the time of the game’s release. Because of this, a large number of requests went to the origin servers. The G-Core Labs team added a cache warming function feature called Prefetch (configured via the API or manually), with the help of which the content was first transferred from the origins to all cache servers, and the update could be downloaded substantially faster.
Later, an even more convenient feature was implemented—origin shielding. This technology provides additional protection to the origin server from high loads due to the huge number of requests from CDN servers.
The main task of shielding is to reduce the number of requests to the origin from CDN servers that interact with the origin server at the time of receiving content.
When shielding is enabled, only one intermediate pre-cache server, which is located as close as possible to the region that is important for the user, and not the entire CDN, interacts with the origin. All requests to the content source are accumulated on it. Thanks to this solution, the load on the Wargaming origin server has been significantly reduced.
In addition, it allowed us to minimize response times and improve the quality of service for players.
Pre-update of patches
This is a pre-update feature for players who want to play right after the release. All interested gamers have the opportunity to download the necessary files in advance, which allows them to avoid additional downloads on the day of the update release. After the release, the update files are installed immediately, because they have already been downloaded. Thanks to this feature, it was possible to reduce the load on the infrastructure by another 20–30%.
Launching new games and expanding into new markets
In 2013, another game came out—World of Warplanes—and World of Warships followed in 2015. Along with the launch of new products, millions of new gamers from different countries have also appeared.
“In 2013, our audience grew significantly in new regions, with products launched in the Americas, Asia, and Australia.”
In response to Wargaming’s requests, G-Core Labs specialists installed additional equipment in new markets (in particular, in the USA and Brazil) and strengthened their presence in the old ones.
Wargaming and G-Core Labs collaboration today
Today, G-Core Labs has over 800 cache servers in over 80 points of presence on all continents except Antarctica, with the best CDN performance in Russia and most European countries.