Customer Stories / Gaming
Esports Engine Delivers Global Gaming Broadcasts with Single-Digit Millisecond Latency Using AWS Local Zones
Learn how Esports Engine, a Vindex company, brings gaming entertainment events to life, producing large-scale live broadcasts for publishers, teams, and fans with low latency from AWS Local Zones.
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic compelled employees to work remotely, Esports Engine, operator of prestigious esports leagues and subsidiary of global gaming technology company Vindex, needed new tools to continue providing turnkey production solutions for gaming publishers. What could have been a major challenge instead led to innovation when the company turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) for remote broadcast solutions, which continue to help the business innovate, even when working from home is no longer necessary. AWS Local Zones—a type of infrastructure that places core services like compute, storage, and networking close to users—helps companies run latency-sensitive applications with top performance. Using Local Zones, Esports Engine now offers the same agility and high-speed performance from remote workstations as from its broadcast-ready studios. Esports is a rapidly growing and evolving multibillion dollar industry, and Esports Engine is positioned to continue adapting and innovating as a leader in this space.
Opportunity | Pivoting to Remote
Vindex, a Manhattan-based company, launched Esports Engine in fall 2019, starting with about 50 employees in two locations: Burbank, California, and Columbus, Ohio. Esports Engine has since grown to nearly 250 employees and added additional studio facilities in London, England. It operates esports leagues and content for game publishers, producing multiple live broadcast productions to engage players and audiences alike. “Our place in the esports industry is to bring entertainment products to life, usually through a live broadcast,” says Ryan Thompson, chief production officer for Esports Engine. “I liken what we do to any traditional sports broadcast.” Large-scale productions require a lot of equipment—soundstages, cameras, local servers—as well as a lot of people.
In March 2020, Esports Engine’s state-of-the-art studios suddenly sat empty. At the same time, gaming broadcasts, like many other streaming services, were in fierce demand from home-bound audiences. With in-person studio productions no longer an option, the company sought another way to bring events to life. “We had to get out of the machine room and into the cloud,” says Thompson, “and all roads led to AWS. It was right there waiting for us.” AWS services bring the cloud to where the users are.
Esports Engine faced a host of new challenges when seeking to broadcast remotely. It needed solutions that would help employees—both creators and operators—produce live broadcasts from their homes. It needed the freedom to look further afield for replacement expertise when its usual local providers were unavailable, either due to illness or logistics. In all areas of its work, the company had to overcome the lag issues typically associated with legacy data centers. The requirements for low latency, created by remote operations and productions, meant pushing the boundaries of the cloud closer to creators and users.
Local Zones helped Esports Engine quickly achieve low latency and enhanced performance for its applications. Even with increasingly complex workflows across more remote workstations, the company had completely pivoted to remote operations by April 2020. “AWS was an affordable option that offered a wide variety of customization and worldwide distribution of infrastructure, empowering us to replicate our workflows almost anywhere in the world,” says Thompson. “No other cloud provider offered all these capabilities under one roof.”
We continue to push the boundaries of live broadcasts. And we have yet to hit a performance limitation using the services AWS provides."
Chief Production Officer, Esports Engine
Solution | Providing Low Latency and High Performance
Esports Engine seeks to set itself apart with the seamlessness and ease of its broadcast technology solutions. The company provides a high-performance experience, even while remote, by deploying its proprietary technology for broadcasting esports competitions on Local Zones. “The ability to share resources and data between all the ways that we interact with our customers is a key differentiator,” says Tony Barnes, Vindex’s chief technology officer. “AWS makes it easy and practical to accomplish that collaboration across infrastructure.”
Getting started with Local Zones was simple, and the company’s engineers deployed it without any technical support. Esports Engine uses several AWS services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which provides secure and resizable compute capacity for virtually any workload, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance for data storage and processing. Content production in the gaming industry is expensive and complex, with tight timelines on widely varied productions, so agility, cost efficiency, and single-digit millisecond latency are critical to excellent performance.
Esports Engine’s customizable productions often include participants located throughout the world, whose identities and locations might be unknown until the day of production. Logistics for productions vary widely, with some shows requiring only basic streaming and others requiring dozens of instances across continents. The most exciting events are often hybrid, combining physical infrastructure with remote operations. By choosing the Local Zones closest to users, Esports Engine can deploy low-latency applications globally in seconds, automatically scaling up and down as needed, with single-digit millisecond latency for an optimal, reliable experience.
Because Local Zones are owned, operated, and managed by AWS, everyone else can focus on what they do best. Publishers can focus on designing great video game experiences, and Esports Engine teams can focus on producing great broadcasts of gaming events. Since making the transition to remote broadcasting, the company has been thriving. “We continue to push the boundaries of live broadcasts,” says Thompson. “And we have yet to hit a performance limitation using the services AWS provides.”
Outcome | Producing Events Worthy of Fandom
Even as COVID-19 pandemic precautions have been lifted and Esports Engine has gotten back to doing traditional live productions in normal control rooms, AWS remains important to the company’s game plan. “We’re still using AWS technology because it’s big, it’s scalable, and it’s efficient,” says Thompson. “It started as a need, but it’s become one of our preferred go-to production solutions for enhancing our product and scaling our operations.” AWS provides cost-effective solutions, reducing the need for travel, physical space, and equipment, while still letting the company meet its partners’ needs with excellence. Thompson says, “We know that whatever crazy new idea we come up with for the next broadcast, AWS probably has something that we can use to support it.”
About Esports Engine
Launched by Vindex in 2019, Esports Engine creates large-scale broadcasts of live esports events with studios in the United States and the United Kingdom and more than 200 employees. It uses low-latency cloud computing for production and streaming.
AWS Services Used
AWS Local Zones
AWS Local Zones are a type of infrastructure deployment that places compute, storage, database, and other select AWS services close to large population and industry centers.
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) offers the broadest and deepest compute platform, with over 500 instances and choice of the latest processor, storage, networking, operating system, and purchase model to help you best match the needs of your workload.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.
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