Recently, Riot Games announced its plan to build its own network to handle traffic for its online game League of Legends. In the post, brand strategist Charlie Hauser explains that a large number of players, especially those on the East Coast, have to deal with high ping times and packet loss, which can create the feeling that the game is unresponsive, and create an overall poor experience.
Hauser explained that, “Currently, ISPs focus primarily on moving large volumes of data in seconds or minutes, which is good for buffered applications like YouTube or Netflix but not so good for real-time games, which need to move very small amounts of data in milliseconds.” With their own network they could better optimize it for the needs of online games.
Another problem is that traffic may take a very inefficient path to get to the servers. Although East Coast users typically have it worse, there are cases where players in San Francisco can be routed all over the country before finally reaching their servers. He states in the comments that, “the goal is to eventually get every player’s connection on the shortest route possible to the game servers, which includes west coast players. Everyone should see a marginal improvement once everything is up and running.”
When asked about a date of completion for this network, Hauser gave March as the expected completion date. This includes the hardware infrastructure of the network, as well as negotiations with ISPs to let people access their network. These changes will only affect North American players, and there are currently no plans to implement something like this in other regions.
This is phase two in a three-phase plan to improve the speed and responsiveness and reliability of the LoL servers in North America. Phase one was implemented in November last year and involved upgrading all the servers with new hardware and software. Phase three involves moving the location of their servers, which are currently on the West Coast, to a more centralized location in North America. This would decrease ping considerably for East Coast users. However there are still no details as to what city will be the new location, or when those changes will be implemented.
Do you think the benefits of a dedicated network are worth the investment by Riot Games? Should other developers of online games create their own networks?