Online Gaming – 17% Growth and still booming

Project DarkstarcomScore released the results of a global study into online gaming, showing the number of unique visitors to these sites to have reached almost 217 million worldwide – a year-on-year growth of 17 percent. The comScore World Metrix study took into account all sites that provide online or downloadable games, excluding gambling sites. The sector attracted 28 percent of the total worldwide online population in May and recorded an average of 9 visits per visitor.

“With one in four Internet users visiting a gaming site, playing games online is extremely popular. The fact that these websites are pulling in over a quarter of the total worldwide Internet population shows what a global phenomenon gaming has become”, said Bob Ivins, EVP and managing director of comScore Europe. “The potential of the online gaming arena should be especially appealing for advertisers, as the average online gamer visits a gaming site 9 times a month.”

According to the report, Yahoo! Games was the largest property, attracting 53 million unique visitors. MSN Games followed in second place, having grown by 16 percent since May 2006 to reach 40 million unique visitors in May 2007. Both properties provide a mixture of strategy, trivia, arcade, and board games, with puzzle and card games proving to be the most popular choices for gamers in both cases.

The fastest-growing Top 10 gaming property was WildTangent Network, a US company that makes online and downloadable games, which grew by 398 percent year-on-year to attract 11.5 million unique visitors in May 2007. The site also attracted an average 12.2 visits per visitor, notably higher than any of the other top 10 gaming properties.

But as your business grows – can you really grow fast enough your service quality to meet the expectation from your customers? You need an infrastructure who can grow with it. Project Darkstar is designed to provide an environment for game developers that allows scaling. Have a look into the paper from Jim Waldo, Distinguished Engineer and Karl Haberl, Research Director both from Sun Microsystems. They just gave an great overview about the open sourced game server technology from Sun Microsystems.

In this paper both explain how scaling can be achieved through the use of the inherent parallelism found in virtual environments without requiring that the programmers coding such environments learn either distributed computing or multi-threaded programming. Project Darkstar presents an illusion to the programmer that the code for the server side of the application is running on a single machine in a single thread.

In fact, the work being done by the server can be spread across any number of machines and threads in a way that allows both increased scaling and fault tolerance. Learn more at Project Darkstar Overview.

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