Game Crunch Doesn’t Always Have to be a Thing

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You’ve been dreading the conversation. You know there’s no way out of it, given the timeline. Your execs have made it clear that the very large marketing spend is going to hit during the week when two of your engineers were planning to be on vacation.

You’ve got a brilliant team that has helped you stand up games and keep them working even when the fan excitement threatened to overwhelm your servers. This time, you know the plan is for a global launch, and in the back of your mind you’re worried you’ve underbuilt. There’s good reason for this – infrastructure isn’t free, and there’s no way you’d get the budget to build out to the best case scenario all over the world. This situation is one you’ve tried to plan for, until the marketing dates moved.

I’ve been in the games industry for 10 years. I understand that we’re mostly in this space because we love it; because it’s fun; because we promised our 12-year-old selves we’d do something exciting with our lives. I also understand that has led to a crunch culture that – as we’ve all grown old and developed grown up lives – can really wear on your happiness.

Now that you’ve got a team, you’re also responsible for THEIR satisfaction at work. Tricky spot to be in, just before a big launch. It’s impossible to know just how big the demand will be on any given day, but there’s a way to plan flexibly.

I’ve been on the front lines of overly successful launches (if such a thing is possible). One of my most painful days at work was when I launched an advergame for a major games publisher and found out within minutes that it was too successful. Sounds great, right? It was great for a minute, until we realized that tens of thousands of people couldn’t access our new game because we had built out on a server that was clearly not scaling to meet demand. That was the first time I learned about CDNs – when my client asked why we hadn’t used Akamai.

As you can imagine, I’ve learned a lot since, and I’ve gathered a lot of my experiences and thoughts into the book, “Frictionless,” which covers the ins and outs of developing and deploying games to large global audiences. For a limited time, it’ll be available to download. Give it a read and share your impressions.

 

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