Cloud Database Solutions for Gaming

Alibaba Cloud’s world-leading database technologies solve all data problems for game companies, bringing you matured and customized architectures with high scalability, reliability, and agility to empower your business endeavors, security, and growth.

Overview

The gaming industry is no game. Game companies are facing challenges in mounting game data. They are calling for customized, scalable, reliable, and agile database resolutions to deal with traffic bursts, server merges, leaderboards, game data rollback for in-game bug fixes, database connection persistency, traffic purchase optimization, and more.

Alibaba Cloud is the only Asia Pacific brand listed in Gartner's 2019 Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems, Alibaba Cloud is ranked first among database management system providers in the Asia Pacific and ranked third in the world in terms of market share. Empowered by advanced cloud database technologies, Alibaba Cloud offers customized cloud database solutions to deal with specific data management challenges in every business scenario across the entire lifecycle of a game.

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Challenges and Solutions

Your Challenges

Challenges in Traffic Bursts

Game traffic is difficult to predict, especially during a new release or a major promotion. A conventional solution is to deploy as many databases as possible to cope with traffic peaks. This can result in either a waste or a shortage of database resources, and the time spent on configuration upgrades and scaling out will affect user experience.

Demanding Server Merges

After a game enters the stable operation period, game companies may merge servers to improve user experience and reduce costs. During a server merge, data integrity and accuracy must be ensured, and data inconsistency must be eliminated. In addition, the merged data must conform to the business logic.

Timely Hotfix for In-Game Bugs

Some players may exploit in-game bugs to illegitimately obtain virtual items or do other actions that seriously undermine the fairness of the games. In this case, game operators must immediately fix the bugs and rollback the affected data to the original status. Accelerating data recovery becomes a challenge.

Our Solutions

Scalability on Database Capacity

Our solution provides you with high scalability for the ever-changing database capacity demands, ensuring a smooth user experience and cost-effective game operation. You can add read-only nodes to the database in five minutes or less and change the node configurations in fifteen minutes or less.

Reliability on Data Migration

Data migration is essential for server merges. Our solution allows you to migrate data between popular databases, such as MongoDB, MySQL, and Redis, with high reliability. You can apply throttling, 24/7 data accuracy validation, and failover. The performance of full data migration can reach 70 Mbit/s and 200,000 TPS during peak hours.

Agility for Game Data Rollbacks

Our solution brings you great agility in game development and data recovery, making game data rollback transparent to game players. You can generate a complete data snapshot every ten minutes and restore incremental data to any time within seconds.

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Featured Cloud Database Architectures for Gaming

Alibaba Cloud offers Cloud Databases tailored for most critical business scenarios throughout a game’s lifecycle including development, launch, and growth for smoother online operations and superior user experience.

Solutions for Traffic Bursts

Database capacity often becomes a bottleneck for business growth during promotions and events.

Our flexible cloud database solutions are designed to deal with concurrent access pressure during traffic bursts. It takes 5 minutes (at most) to add read-only nodes to ApsaraDB for PolarDB and no more than 15 minutes to change the node configurations. You do not need to purchase expensive high-configuration databases in advance. When the players' access traffic exceeds the database capacity, you can quickly upgrade the database configurations to ensure smooth game operation. After the business traffic decline, the game enters the stable operation period. You can quickly downgrade the database configurations to ensure that your database architecture remains cost-effective.

Solutions for Server Merges

Server merge is usually required for multi-DB games during the stable operation period to reduce application and database costs and improve players' game experience.

Our cloud database solution can help you with server merges. It supports migrating data between different popular database instances in the gaming industry, such as MongoDB, MySQL, and Redis. Alibaba Cloud Data Transmission Service (DTS) helps ensure secure and reliable data transmission including schema migration, full migration, and incremental migration. The performance of full data migration can reach 70 Mbit/s and 200,000 TPS during peak hours. During maintenance, you only need to switch the data link strings, which reduces the time required for business migration. Throttling, 24/7 data accuracy validation, and failover can be applied during the migration, without affecting your business. DTS also supports resumable transmission.

As the data processing hub, Alibaba Cloud Data Lake Analytics (DLA) enables join queries for database instances of different servers through the standard Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) API, which helps identify possible conflicts between player data after a server merge.

Solutions for Leaderboards

The database for storing the leaderboard is very important. If you use a relational database, such as RDS for MySQL, to store player and bonus point data, many problems will arise. Highly concurrent data updates can easily overload the RDS instance as your game becomes popular. When a large volume of bonus point data is sorted and queried, the CPU can be fully used. If you use read-only instances or cache to sort and query data in the RDS instance, data replication delays and data inconsistency can occur.

Our cloud database solution uses ApsaraDB for Redis to solve these problems. It stores data in sorted-sets, where strings are unique but scores can duplicate and are stored in order. Leaderboard data is stored in the memory, enabling highly concurrent updates. Since the data is stored in order, the query latency is much lower than RDS instances. ApsaraDB for Redis provides a zone-disaster recovery architecture across two data centers. ApsaraDB for Redis backs up data by taking RDB snapshots on the secondary node, which enables automatic or manual data persistence. In addition, you can use backup files to quickly restore leaderboard data on the console after accidental operations. We provide comprehensive APIs for adding, deleting, and updating players' bonus points, which makes development easier.

Please check a Java code leaderboard creation sample.

Solutions for Game Rollback

Generally, game rollbacks restore some (but not all) player data to a previous time determined by the developers. Two indicators are assessed regarding a game rollback: recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). It is expected that the data can be restored to any time as soon as possible.

Our Database Backup Service (DBS) supports various environments and databases, and the real-time incremental data backup helps you quickly restore incremental user data to any given time point. For game rollback scenarios, you can use the DBS extreme storage pool solution. In this solution, a complete data snapshot is generated every 10 minutes, and incremental data can be restored to any time within seconds. You can directly mount the data to the MySQL instance and quickly find the complete player data to be restored.

Solutions for Database Disconnection

Regular maintenance, such as HA failover or configuration changes, can result in transient disconnections from the database. The game server must be resilient during this type of disconnection activity.

Both the PolarDB and PolarDB-X proxy layers can keep the connection with the database. In the case of HA failover or configuration changes to the underlying layer, the middleware or proxy layer resumes the connection to the database and replays the connection session attributes. The entire process has no impact on the game's application layer.

Solutions for Traffic Purchase Optimization

The promotion and customer acquisition costs of a game account for 40% to 50% of its monthly revenue. Many game companies need an easy-to-use and easy-to-implement data analysis solution to optimize the quality of purchased traffic and reduce customer acquisition costs.

Alibaba Cloud provides a real-time operational data analysis platform for game ads. Based on AnalyticDB reserved mode, real-time analysis and monitoring of data, such as daily active users (DAUs), serve as a strong basis for game companies to make online decisions to ensure the effectiveness of advertising. Structured and unstructured data is integrated for analyzing the advertising results of traffic purchases within minutes, improving the accuracy of channel evaluation. High-performance and large-capacity DLA and AnalyticDB divide data into three layers: cold (rarely accessed data), warm (infrequently accessed data), and hot (frequently accessed data), fully ensuring the data analysis efficiency of all layers while reducing the customers' overall data storage costs. DLA and AnalyticDB are compatible with standard SQL statements, so developers that are inexperienced in big data operations can easily develop platforms with them.

Solutions for Open-World Games

Open-world games are a type of game where players can roam freely and explore the game’s maps while choosing to complete tasks or not. Inevitably, the environmental data of open-world games are large and variable, offering players opportunities to explore and interact while leading to complex storage of massive amounts of data.

In open-world games, the in-game environment is no longer mapped to static sources but changes with user behavior. Alibaba Cloud's elastic database, ApsaraDB for PolarDB, can record all of the changes in a dynamic in-game environment. As the interaction between the game applications and the database becomes more frequent, ApsaraDB for PolarDB is the best choice for the increasing QPS and concurrency. Our spatiotemporal database stores geographic locations in an expanding game space where complex positioning scenarios similar to those in the real world can appear. And our graph database supports complex in-game social relationships. These solutions allow for endless exploration and in-game social interactions.

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Customer Success Stories

See how game companies leverage Alibaba Cloud's leading database technologies to empower their business

"ApsaraDB for PolarDB provides high read/write performance and is fully compatible with MySQL. It enables seamless business migration, concurrency of over one million players, and fast business recovery when the game server restarts after software or hardware failure."

XD Inc. is a well-known gaming company and a top 100 Internet enterprise in China whose business scope covers game R&D and operation, animation, and entertainment. It builds all business systems based on Alibaba Cloud’s ApsaraDB for PolarDB solution, which provides an excellent game experience for tens of millions of mobile game players.

“Since dynamic migration became possible with DTS and SMC, services were migrated with the shortest downtime for switching DNS and checking operations.”

- Rei Yamashita Director CTO, BIGBANG Inc.

BIGBANG Inc. is the video game production company responsible for the "Sengoku Chronicles" franchise. Empowered by Alibaba Cloud, BIGBANG performed a seamless dynamic migration from the previous cloud environment, built a test environment in about 15 days, migrated their production environment in one month, and achieved a 40% reduction in cloud infrastructure operating costs.

"The performance of Alibaba Cloud's products and services went well beyond our expectations with almost no obstacles. "

- Hari Kurniawan, Indofun IT Manager

Indofun Games is the leading mobile game provider in Indonesia, which prides itself in providing entertaining games and having excellent services for its customers. Alibaba Cloud offers one of the most complete and mature cloud computing service packages for Indofun. With the computing, storage, database and network service solutions from Alibaba Cloud, Indofun can be confident that it can reach its customers throughout Indonesia.

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