What exactly do modern gamers want?
By Benjamin Cher June 24, 2016
- Convenience valued above everything else
- Multiplayer is a key requirement in games
THE advent of digital delivery for video games was supposed to bring in a new era of game accessibility and end the reliance on physical copies. Yet in some places, driving to the store and picking up the game is faster than downloading it online.
Gaming platforms are transitioning to being almost completely digital and companies need to work on the ease of getting a game to be successful according to Nelson Rodriguez, Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Gaming, Akamai Technologies.
Nelson Rodriguez, Senior Industry Marketing Manager, Gaming, Akamai Technologies
“In order for that to be successful for companies, the digital experience has to be just as easy as opening up a plastic case, and right now that is still difficult for a lot of parts of the world,” Rodriguez told Digital News Asia in Singapore.
This ease is something that gamers demand, as time for gaming shrinks into smaller sessions, according to Rodriguez.
“What’s really interesting to me is that end-users are becoming less patient, and have less time, globally mobile is one third of the games market and in South-East Asia it’s even more because console games are not as well established,” said Rodriguez.
“Most people are spending time on their mobile phones than PCs, what you’re finding is people want to play on the bus, they want to be able to play in 10 minutes sessions in between appointments.
“Which means that waiting 10 minutes for the game to load is not an option, some of the customers we work with say their goal is to take five seconds from when you want to play to when you are able to load the game, that’s very ambitious and there’s a long way to go for many companies to reach that target,” he added.
This is where companies need to work on things like accelerating the download or come up with intelligent paths through the Internet, according to Rodriguez.
“The funny thing about the Internet that a lot of people don’t know is that the Internet on its own is very slow, the path that data takes to get to you is long and winding,” said Rodriguez.
Downloading the game is just the tip of the iceberg, with many other obstacles that stop gamers from playing a game, according to Rodriguez.
“There’s so many obstacles to players that are playing, from the first minute you try to find out about a game on a website to clicking a button to download and install, to log in, the game updates on a regular basis, there’s a lot of moments that has nothing to do with the game and gameplay itself that can get in the way,” said Rodriguez.
Lag is a killer
The modern day gamer experience can easily be disrupted with latency or more colloquially known as lag, is the time that a round trip a packet of data takes to go from one point to another. Solving this issue however, is complicated according to Rodriguez.
“To be fair, solving the problem of latency is a complicated problem, there are so many factors to latency,” said Rodriguez.
“There’s latency in the device, processing time in the device, then there’s latency from the device to the local ISP (Internet service provider), then there’s latency across the entire network to get to the server, then there’s processing at the server, then it has to make a return trip,” he added.
This makes the entire process for a player to fire a weapon in game and get a response back from the server and to other players seem magical, Rodriguez proclaimed.
“It’s almost magical that it works at all because of how difficult that process is, and when you start thinking about playing over long distances, the natural network latency is really high,” said Rodriguez.
“What publishers need to be doing is figuring out how to create the best shortcuts possible in the middle.
“Because the end points of latency is almost not addressable, the device latency, the last mile latency is hard to fix, means you have to fix it in the middle,” he added.
With the modern attention span and craving for an immediate response, game latency has to be low to satisfy gamers Rodriguez cautioned.
“For a game to be fun, latency has to be under 200 milliseconds,” said Rodriguez.
If you wish to know more about reducing latency and its impact, watch this video.
‘The goal is such a finicky and sensitive number, can you cut 50 milliseconds off, and that can be achieved by finding the fastest path,” he added.
This is an important factor when the modern gamer is all about convenience and frictionless gaming.
“All players care about convenience more than anything else, you could look at design…no one design answer for everybody, and gameplay is the same thing, game mechanics are not universal across all players,” said Rodriguez.
“Convenience has been universal across player for over 20 years, if you look at the trends over the last 10 years, the most popular game themes are mobile, free to play, casual is big, those are all convenience.
“Mobile is not about design, but the fact that you can play anywhere, free to play is not about design it’s about the fact that you don’t have to pay, casual is not about design it’s about lowering the barrier for players who don’t have experience,” he added.
Regardless of whether you have unicorns or bazookas, convenience reigns above all.
“What matters is, is it easy as possible for players to get in, is it a smooth process for them? What are the points of friction getting in the way of the player?” said Rodriguez.
Multiplayer remains key
Multiplayer has been around ever since first-person shooter Doom had multiplayer and clogged up computer networks back in 1993. While the modern gamer values convenience above all else, multiplayer is still set to be a key driver for all games Rodriguez declared.
“Multiplayer is going to be a key driver for all games, multiplayer allows for much longer stickiness with players and higher profit,” said Rodriguez.
“Players who play with other people stay longer and pay more money, if you look at the top grossing games on iOS, most of the top grossing games are multiplayer, it may not be real-time but asynchronous, but they are still closely tied to multiplayer, “ he added.
Networks will be under pressure as gamers play with each other more as well according to Rodriguez.
“Global networks will be under a lot of pressure to continue to support multiplayer, as multiplayer gets more and more popular, the global network is going to start to hit limitations that all of us need to work together to solve,” said Rodriguez.
“There is a lot of talk going around dedicated game networks, alternate networks just for game traffic, so they aren’t affected by people streaming video, this is going to be an interesting space,” he added.
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