The Olympics may be cancelled, but the games are still on. With more and more people forced indoors thanks to global Coronavirus lockdowns, online gaming and gambling is on the up as a pastime for teenagers and adults alike. While it’s a boon for both industries as a whole, the digital infrastructures of individual platforms are feeling the pressure.
Unprecedented levels of traffic are threatening higher latency across platforms, and while customers might have more time in light of the present situation, they don’t have more patience. They simply aren’t content to wait for a ‘loading’ message to run its course. Services – even non-essential services like gaming and gambling platforms – must be available at the click of a button.
To add to the ‘always-on’ expectations of the modern consumer, gaming and gambling customers lack the ‘stickiness’ prevalent in many other sectors. If a bank has an IT glitch and their debit cards don’t work for a few hours, customers might moan about the inconvenience, but, unless it happens on a regular basis, it wouldn’t cause most of them to switch bank. For gaming and gambling channels, it’s ‘make or break’, with hundreds of thousands of competitor gaming platforms waiting in the wings to easily pick up their disgruntled customer base. In this way, downtime, particularly repeated downtime, can rapidly lead to a loss of market share – even if it’s not necessarily their fault.
So, while there are huge rewards to be reaped for successful gaming and gambling operators at this time, there are similarly large pitfalls for the unwary and unprepared. Those who have failed to put operational resilience measures in place are putting themselves at risk of systems failures which could take them from hero to zero virtually overnight.
In this fight for supremacy in both gaming and gambling industries, low latency is king. Keeping latency down is the key to ensuring that what is happening on-screen – be it betting odds or a development in a competitor’s gameplay – represents what’s happening up to the instant. Milliseconds can affect who wins a live esports games worth millions, so it is essential that networks don’t lag or buffer.
To assist in monitoring and fixing issues with latency, synthetic monitoring – that is, simulating the end-user experience so that companies can know in real-time what their customers are seeing – is essential. This enables businesses to monitor best practices to prevent costly outages, poor customer experience and reputational damage.
Market data monitoring is also essential for ‘in-running’ betting, to avoid the risk of people placing bets on historic odds by flagging when there is latency in data at the time the engine changes odds.
However, perhaps the most important asset in a company’s operational resilience arsenal at this time is inside-out knowledge of their headroom – that is, the amount of space available for customers on a given platform. With so many people staying at home and reliant on gaming and gambling platforms for their entertainment, services must be able to cope with huge upticks in demand. It is essential that enough headroom is provided to facilitate all of them. If a business fails to do this, their competitors will be the beneficiaries. This is particularly the case for gaming with its unforecastable participation rates.
In order to succeed, businesses need operationally resilient high capacity networks that are both scalable and low latency, in tandem with automated predictive artificial intelligence to reallocate network resources in real-time. Also required is the ability to model capacity demand and thus forecast the capacity required to deal with, say, the World Cup final or a similar event.
It’s a busy time for both gaming and gambling industries as they push up the mainstream pastime ladder. To make the most of this spotlight and ensure they are at the forefront of their industries in the decade to come, service providers must put the operational resilience of their platforms first and foremost.