How Gaming, Entertainment and Media Companies Can Create Extraordinary Immersive Experiences
In this article
With more than 3 billion gamers globally, gaming is increasingly looked at as a leading form of entertainment, which is driving exponential growth for game developers worldwide.
More growth is on the horizon — estimates show the video game industry will be worth more than $300 billion by 2025. Underpinning that growth is technology, which is enabling new gaming experiences that allow users to socialize, play and connect.
Technology is also a critical challenge facing many gaming, entertainment, media and metaverse (GEMM) companies as they strive to implement new solutions that can meet the need of consumers, who:
- Have sky-high expectations for quality, availability and security that necessitate global infrastructure and a content delivery network (CDN) for fast delivery and low latency.
- Thirst for computing power, bandwidth and consistent low latency to support the popularity of cloud based multiplayer games.
Complicating matters is a consolidation in the industry, which is driving the need for staffing and/or professional services, infrastructure consolidation, a move to modern software development best practices, and automation and virtualization. At the same time, game developers must scale their infrastructure in such a way that meets these fluid demands.
Fortunately, GEMM companies have access to a powerful suite of tools that enable them to engage with users like never before — if you can successfully address the lack of interoperability.
The need for integration
Crafting a truly unique experience requires stitching together many pieces of incompatible technologies, embracing new business models and adhering to best practices for customer data to create something remarkable.
Few technologies are firmly established, and new technologies continue to be introduced. Many of these technologies are not transferable. This lack of interoperability is a fundamental challenge across the board for GEMM companies. Determining how to integrate all the necessary components can be expensive, time-consuming and difficult.
Determine how you want to create unique value
Before you jump into technology decisions, you should start with establishing a clear understanding of the type of experience and value you want to deliver. Even the biggest gaming companies are challenged in this regard.
Digital-native consumers expect perfection at all times, including total availability and zero latency. But most of all, in a saturated market, they want unique, top-notch immersive experiences.
What will your role be in delivering that? It's important to understand exactly the problem or use case you're trying to solve and do it by providing a flawless experience from a visual and audio standpoint.
Strategy involves being crystal clear on your goals at the start. Ask yourself:
- What is my main challenge? Global experience of gameplay? Scale? Security? There have been massive breaches in the GEMM industry.
- What is your business' vision and current strategy?
- What are the digital components you need? Take inventory.
- Is there a technology strategy in place? How much do you have to consider when creating the perfect integrated solution for your organizations
Creators are also striving to understand why a customer wants to forge a new experience. This becomes a vital part of measuring the success of those experiences. Questions like:
- What is your purpose?
- What are you looking to achieve
- What are the key performance indicators you want to define?
These questions will elicit responses that explain the customer's inherent desire, whether that be to embrace new technologies to learn and pilot new programs or to satisfy "must-have" directives from C-suite executives. No matter where the technology journey begins, all roads must lead back to determining their "why."
Four steps to building a technology framework
When you have determined the type of experiences you're trying to create, you can begin to identify the technology that best supports it. This entails the following key steps:
1. Identify your priorities
The goal with your technology selection is to address all of your needs, but it's just a matter of the serial vs. parallel of their workstreams. Most companies don't have the bandwidth to have everything at once. Some don't have the manpower. You can start by addressing your most pressing priorities and build out from there.
2. Move into rapid prototyping
In the design phase, take a concept and then visualize it in a stepped experience. This involves making decisions about the architecture that would need to be put in place, as well as the technologies that would deliver the best tool sets.
3. Build your core team
You need to develop a core team to come together to think deeply about strategy and how to execute on your vision. If you don't have the professionals with the skill sets you need, find a partner that can provide specialized experts to build out those tasks for cost reasons and velocity to build their building block.
4. Learn and develop new skill sets
Recognize that software is eating the world. web1 and web2 are fundamentally hardware-dependent, but the world has changed. The importance of software has increased, and along with it, a need for a different skill set with web3.
Project-based placements as opposed to staff augmentation give you the ability to scale at almost the first nature of these experiences. Start with senior architects and expand the team into multiple teams so you can scale. Expand from there into sub teams that can handle everything from application development, software development and full stack development to UI and UX design and wiring up the rendered experience in a VR headset or set of AR glasses.
Iterate, iterate, perfect
To ensure success, GEMM companies need to take a proactive approach. Rather than launching and hoping for the best, they must experiment with different tools and technologies in order to get their overall strategy just right. By taking this extra step before going live, organizations can guarantee extraordinary experiences from day one — resulting in happy customers whose expectations have never been higher.
Keep in mind that things are moving fast. A year ago, everyone was talking about augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR); today, everyone seems to be doing their own pilot. Especially given the fact that much of the new gear out there does not work with your current gear, you never know what's going to work until you put it out there.
You need to experiment and figure out how it is relevant to your business and industry, iterating through various experiences in a production-like environment before you put it in front of your customers so you can learn fast, fail first and deliver the final product flawlessly.
Leverage your data for maximum value
Gaining valuable insights from these user-centric experiences is important from a data utilization perspective. In fact, it may be a top priority for the industry as AI initiatives continue to advance.
Fifty-nine percent of gaming executives surveyed ranked gaining visibility into gaming endpoints as their top data priority. To achieve complete visibility, you will need to create what is basically a data governance group.
Data and how you handle (data governance) it is a very sensitive topic and requires careful consideration and thought, usually from a cross-functional group of experts with different, and valuable perspectives. Also, you will need to pull data from numerous locations, run through the machine learning step and have an algorithm to process that data.
Secure your data and your brand
GEMM companies have to address myriad cybersecurity threats and challenges. Forty-seven percent of gaming professionals surveyed said that mitigating cyber risks is a key challenge. By 2025, that response rate jumps to 58 percent.
Overall security posture has to be baked in at ground level, incorporating various zero trust tools and integration points, cloud security and global compliance issues. Implementing verification provisions that determine who has access to your environment and when allows you to authenticate all users, scan for threats and eliminate security breaches before they escalate.
Security and the cloud have to be a central focus throughout the process.
As sensitive data is tied to these immersive experiences, it takes a mature model to govern that data, which comes from and is associated with multiple locations and tools.
Remember: Infrastructure matters
Consolidation happens — more than 651 deals were announced or closed with a disclosed value of $107 billion in the first half of 2022. With all the consolidation in the industry, many GEMM companies have to move workloads from one hosting platform to another.
Moving massive amounts of data and complex workloads from one place to another while keeping the business running and secure is no small feat.
More gamers are moving into mixed reality environments, and gaming as a service is emerging. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- The more you can render back on the network, the cheaper the devices become over time. It's a volatile market and a hit-based business.
- The more players you have, the more infrastructure you'll need.
- The complexity involved in storing personal information increases in different parts of the world.
Future-proof your network
Media processing and delivery, AI visual inference, cloud gaming and desktop virtualization are proliferating in data centers. The increased demand for more sophisticated content puts pressure on organization's legacy infrastructure, calling for providers with more powerful processing infrastructure and greater delivery bandwidth. In order to reach and exceed consumer expectations, GEMM companies must optimize their servers, infrastructure and increase their bandwidth.
The key is higher processing that can scale as demand increases or decreases. Scalable processors like Intel's Xeon are the gold standard for processing and delivering media today. They are compatible with common open-source tools highly desired by media providers to overcome the constraints of siloed and proprietary environments.
High processing also helps keep costs down by simultaneously driving up the density of streams per server and providing optimal support for advanced streaming codecs, including AV1.
Because Intel's Xeon processor works in conjunction with Intel's Data Center GPU Flex Series processor, you can customize your data center outputs for rapidly changing media delivery needs. With a general-purpose data center graphics processor, your media stream is optimized for any density or quality, equipped with server-class reliability, availability and scalability.
At WWT, we specialize in integration—it's our passion and forté. With decades of experience as an integrator and third-party expert, we create innovative solutions that bring true happiness to customers around the world. With our experience working with every aspect of gaming, entertainment and media, we can help you address all the crucial challenges you face, including the integration of various tools and technologies into an impactful whole while also providing global reach and scale.
WWT and Intel are poised to help GEMM companies like yours achieve optimal integration so you can make more universes.