Starting Games Twice As Fast Is Not Fast Enough – Understanding Fast Start Approaches

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spoken to a lot of game developers in the US and Europe about the challenges in game marketing and distribution. Games are getting larger, and audiences are increasingly hesitant to try new pay and free-to-play titles. Steam has relaxed all standards and the marketplace is extremely noisy – it’s hard for titles to break through and get onto the screens of today’s gamers.

The new industry consensus is that digital distribution is the way to go for the entertainment and gaming.The benefits to consumers of digital and subscription distribution have won over music, video and soon gaming. Analysts from Piper Jaffray expect games to be sold 100% digitally by 2022, and even if it doesn’t go that far, the writing is on the wall. 

However, there’s a big elephant in the room: popular games have significantly increased in size over the last few years. Today’s players expect games to look great down to every detail, including hyper-realistic textures, vast worlds, and long gameplay. This means that games can be 100 GBs or more – which poses a serious problem with file sizes increasing at a 4 times higher rate than the average available bandwidth. For big titles, time to start is HIGHER than it was 10 years ago!

XBox FastStart – the industry is looking for ways to meet demand for faster access

Earlier this year at E3 Microsoft announced FastStart for XBOX, a game download system that “gets you into your game in half the time” for XBOX One owners with a minimum 20Mbps connection. 

Imagine a system that could dramatically reduce download times – 10X, or even 100X? Instead of simply accelerating downloads, users can “click to play” game demoes or full versions. And imagine if that system was available to ANY PC game developer, on any website? Instead of increasing the concentration of content, it could allow developers to chart their own course, injecting F2P gamers right into the game, or dramatically improving the digital download experience. 

I believe a delay of several hours from download decision to gameplay as the core experience is simply unacceptable. That’s why at ROCKIT we have developed a solution to dramatically reduce a gamer’s “time-to-experience.”   

But why care about download times – games will be streamed anyway, right?

Unlike music or movies, high-quality interactive game streaming isn’t working yet – and it won’t be anytime soon. EA’s Chief Technology Officer Ken Moss sees latency as the No. 1 challenge to solve. Games are reactive by nature and any lags and latency will diminish the user experience. Also, infrastructure costs are high – serious gamers want a full PC class experience. To replicate that experience in the cloud will require a huge amount of GPU and powerful CPU compute in the cloud. That’s an expensive and risky model. Experts agree, for instance, Nvidia’s Phil Eisler believes that it could take up to 10 years to solve game streaming’s many issues.   

The solution is a nearly instant time to experience with native PC performance

At ROCKIT we have found a way to make downloads faster and smarter. ROCKIT intelligently prioritizes the data required at game start and allows users to play a game long before the download finishes – achieving up to 120X faster ‘time-to-experience’. 

ROCKIT radically reduces ‘time-to-experience’ – the time it takes a user from initializing download to actually experiencing a game for the first time. Wait less – Play more!

The solution was built and optimized based on high-performance computing software. It provides users with the full performance of their local system without the inconvenience of long download times. ROCKIT operates at the kernel level – the core of the OS – for maximum performance and stability. Everything is done at the end of development with no need for deep integration – which makes this technology incredibly versatile. ROCKIT is a core tech for platform providers that can run on any infrastructure or simply sourced in a SaaS.