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Views: Online gamers feel the need for speed

As the e-sports industry continues to grow in size and revenue, networks and cloud computing need to keep pace

Last year's League of Legends (LoL) World Championship final, held in Incheon, South Korea, peaked at over 200 million viewers.

This doubled the previous peak in 2017 when the final was held in Beijing, and it was easily the most viewed e-sports event of the year.

E-sports viewership has already eclipsed flagship sporting events like the NBA Finals, which garnered a comparatively low 17.7 million TV viewers in 2018.

The appetite for e-sports is growing in the region, with the Asia-Pacific accounting for 57 per cent of regular viewership globally.

In fact, gaming consultancy Newzoo predicts that the global e-sports economy will grow 26 per cent annually, reaching US$1.8 billion (S$2.44b) by 2022 - and as the industry swells in size and revenue, companies are starting to take note.

In Singapore, local telco Singtel announced in February that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea's SK Telecom to cooperate and leverage each other's assets and capabilities to grow gaming and e-sports in Asia.

This collaboration comes even as e-sports breaks into the mainstream sporting arena, with the 2022 Asian Games set to see e-sports as a medal event for the first time.

The boom in more interactive, experiential gaming continues to gain ground worldwide.

Coupled with an increasingly global audience, this will dramatically increase the need for online gaming network bandwidth.

Online gaming and e-sports require high-speed, low-latency interconnection between gaming systems and cloud computing to keep pace with the advances in processing/graphics power behind users' real-time gaming experience.

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

The reaction speed of the player, the gaming system and supporting networks and clouds can result in milliseconds of lag time - which in turn can mean the difference between winning millions of dollars in prize money and getting knocked out of the leaderboard.

Latency is essential in an environment where any lag in response time leaves a player at a competitive disadvantage.

Perceived latency must be non-existent, which is challenging enough in day-to-day play, but becomes exponentially tougher during event-driven surges, where up to 10 times as many players are playing at the same time.

Individual gaming customers are twice as likely to abandon a game when they experience a 500-millisecond network delay, demonstrating the high impact of poor network and cloud performance on game playing and revenues.

With the global and increasingly mobile popularity of online gaming, the best way to slash latency is to push gaming servers and access nodes to the digital edge in data centres close to major global urban gaming centres where gaming providers and players congregate.

Direct, private interconnection with gaming networks, gaming ecosystems, and network and cloud providers at the edge can slash latency and network costs dramatically, along with streaming gaming services proximate to a large number of users.

Security is another reason for direct and private interconnection.With cybercriminals potentially posing as gamers and gaining access to the computers and personal data of trusting players, incorporating security into gaming hardware and networks at the edge where most gamers reside can place controls in closer proximity to cyberattack entry points.

The writer is global solutions architect at Equinix

Technology