Amazon Game Tech Blog

Moving from P2P to Cloud: How For Honor & Friday the 13th The Game Improved Player Experience

As a game developer, you invest years into building a game and fostering a community of fans that eagerly wait for launch day to arrive. And while backend infrastructure may not be top of mind when trying to provide a great player experience, the choices you make behind the scenes could effect player facing areas like player wait times and connections.

Many game developers choose to utilize peer-to-peer (P2P) networks to support the multiplayer aspects of their game. At first glance this option appears to be a cost effective solution, but at Amazon we’re seeing more and more developers move from P2P to dedicated game servers in the cloud. Let’s walk through some reasons why studios like Ubisoft and IllFonic, the teams behind For Honor and Friday the 13th The Game, have jumped to the cloud, leaving P2P behind.

Leave poor latency and connectivity behind

P2P networking can create low-latency experiences if players are located in the same area and have strong connections. However, overall latency for a game with a P2P network is determined by the latency of the host connection.

For Honor launched with a P2P network model. Over time, Ubisoft realized that there were a number of problems manifesting in the player experience that could be attributed to this architectural choice. To remove the need for session migration and NAT (network address translation) requirements, improving matchmaking and the overall stability of the online experience, Ubisoft decided to move the game to a dedicated server model hosted with Amazon GameLift.

Dedicated game servers put more control in the hands of the game developer. Using the cloud to host dedicated game servers allows you to easily manage and place players into game servers that will bring the lowest latency, most stable experience.

Dropouts, host advantages, and cheating have no place in multiplayer games

Players drop out of game sessions for many reasons, like a bad internet connection, or losing interest in a game.

If the host player suddenly drops from a game, gameplay for all other players will be interrupted or cause hitching. In Friday the 13th The Game, this challenge was amplified through its unique asymmetrical multiplayer game design. In this game, the infamous Jason plays against all other players in a match. If the host is a player that is killed by Jason, and they didn’t want to spectate from the grave, dropping out of the game would then interrupt the game for all players.

It’s also easier for players to use exploits and cheat with a P2P network, and hosts often have latency advantages. The host player’s computer is considered authoritative in a P2P model, making it more difficult to detect cheating compared to a dedicated server architecture. Hosts will oftentimes have a slight advantage because they experience lower latency than other players in their game. With a dedicated server model, game interruptions and cheating are minimized and gameplay is leveled for all players – which is why IllFonic chose to utilize dedicated servers hosted with Amazon GameLift across all platforms (PC, Xbox One, and PS4).

Ubisoft and IllFonic share their experiences with P2P and dedicated servers at GDC 2018

Join the Amazon GameLift team on Tuesday, March 20th at 1:20PM in Room 3001/3002 at the Moscone Center to learn more in our session Exploring Trends in Multiplayer Game Server Infrastructure.

Ubisoft For Honor developers Damien Kieken and Roman Campos Oriola, along with IllFonic Friday the 13th The Game Tech Director, Paul Jackson, will share what drove their backend infrastructure decisions and take you along their journeys migrating from P2P networks to dedicated game servers hosted with Amazon GameLift. The Amazon GameLift team will round out the talk with a discussion of other trends on the horizon for multiplayer game server infrastructure, including the impact of machine learning.

Attending GDC Dev Days? Attend three Amazon Dev Day sessions and win a $20 Amazon gift card*. See the full schedule at aws.amazon.com/gdc-2018/schedule.

To learn more about Amazon GameLift, visit amazon.com/gamelift or drop us a line.

*T&C’s Apply: https://aws.amazon.com/gdc-2018/gc-terms-and-conditions