Google Cloud on Wednesday announced that Game Servers, a managed service game server hosting and scaling product, is now generally available for production workloads. Launched in beta in March, Game Servers is designed to simplify the management of global, multi-cluster game server fleets. It's effectively an enhanced version of Agones, the open-source game hosting platform built on top of Kubernetes, which Google debuted with Ubisoft in 2018.
The goal of Game Servers is to take the work out of hosting massive, multi-player games like Fortnite or Call of Duty. Typically, game developers rely on dedicated servers to host multi-player experiences, but hosting and scaling a game server fleet to support a global multi-player game can be challenging. Players around the world are connected and communicating, all watching the same environment and the real-time actions all other players are taking. It requires extremely low latency to make this work.
Game Servers currently supports clusters that run on Google Kubernetes Engine. Google is still working on adding the ability to run clusters on other clouds or on premise. Once it offers hybrid and multi-cloud support, customers will be able to better leverage Game Servers' custom scaling policies to optimize their deployment costs.
Google is making Game Servers free until the end of the year, with customers billed only for the underlying use of Kubernetes clusters. Developers can opt out any time, if they decide they'd prefer to manage Agones clusters themselves.
The gaming industry is sizable and growing -- reaching around $148.8 billion in 2019, according to research firm Newzoo. It makes sense for Google Cloud to go after that market as it steps up its vertical-specific focus. Aside from offering Google Cloud solutions, the tech giant can offer end-to-end collaboration solutions that include, for instance, YouTube as a streaming partner for live broadcasts or e-sporting events.
Google is already the preferred cloud provider for Activision Blizzard's game hosting infrastructure, and YouTube is its exclusive streaming partner. Google is also engaged with game companies in Japan, such as DeNA (data and AI) and Colopl (databases). In Europe, Massive Entertainment, a Ubisoft studio, chose Google Cloud as the public cloud provider to host game servers globally for the highly-anticipated 2019 release of Tom Clancy's The Division 2.
"Gaming is a global business and Google Cloud's priority is to help developers around the world solve their infrastructure problems so that they can spend more building great cross-platform gaming experience, and less time managing infrastructure," Rob Martin, Chief Architect at Google Cloud, said in a statement provided to ZDNet. "Google Cloud believes in un-opinionated services that leave the 'secret sauce' that makes a developer's game unique to them, while we take care of the underlying infrastructure."