With AWS, we can develop online and mobile games at least 50% faster than our previous on-premises environment.
Ned Lee Cloud System Engineer

IGS is a games developer with a worldwide presence. Based in Taiwan, the company, which launched in 1989, has more than 800 employees. IGS started out building arcade-based games: planning, designing, manufacturing, and servicing the machines, which it exports to 45 countries. Today, the company has also developed a growing web and mobile gaming business, which is building on the success of titles such as We Dancing Online. To manage this growth, IGS is actively recruiting some of the best online games developers in Taiwan and is looking to establish games-development centers overseas.

IGS was already a leading developer of arcade-based games when it launched into the online and mobile-based games business. The business started by providing a live tournament system to local area network-based arcade players. At that time, cloud services were in their infancy. As a result, the company deployed on-premises servers to support the launch. IGS installed its hardware in Hong Kong and Shanghai to minimize latency for customers in China, which was its core market. However, managing the servers eventually became a challenge. They were expensive and labor-intensive to maintain. The effort it took to add new capacity impacted the speed of game development and the company’s ability to scale its infrastructure quickly to meet spikes in demand.

To capitalize on the surge in demand for online and mobile games worldwide, IGS needed to reevaluate its IT strategy. Ned Lee, cloud system engineer at IGS, says, “We wanted to develop our games much faster in response to a rapidly expanding global audience. We also wanted to be more responsive and scale capacity fast, while maintaining availability if the popularity of our games increases. Most importantly, there was the need to focus our resources on game development rather than IT management.”

IGS made the strategic decision to move to a cloud service to support its growing online and mobile gaming business. The company assessed several cloud-service providers and found it could make a strong business case for Amazon Web Services (AWS). Says Lee, “The main reason for choosing AWS was its flexibility. In the development of mobile games, speed is crucial, and we could spin up environments very quickly with AWS.”

In 2012, IGS decided to use AWS for all future online and mobile game developments. For older online games currently played in China, the company opted to maintain its existing on-premises servers. In a matter of weeks, IGS had created AWS environments to support its Python-based online and mobile games. By using AWS infrastructures in the AWS Asia-Pacific (Singapore) and Asia-Pacific (Tokyo) Regions, IGS began serving customers worldwide. The game servers consist of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances with Elastic Load Balancing distributing incoming traffic between the nodes. To maximize data speeds across the Internet, IGS uses Amazon CloudFront for content delivery and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) as its highly scalable cloud database.

By adopting AWS, IGS can respond to the rapidly increasing popularity of mobile gaming. For example, the company was able to satisfy demands from all over the world by adding 10,000 players per day for more than 30 days. The company now creates new games much faster, spinning up development environments quickly and switching them to production environments when games are ready for release. “With AWS, we can develop online and mobile games at least 50% faster than our old on-premises environment,” says Lee.

Because IGS still maintains a small number of on-premises servers in Hong Kong and Shanghai, it is easy for the company to measure the difference of managing its IT with AWS. “Occasionally, we would send two IT administrators to complete maintenance work on the 10 servers we currently run in Hong Kong. However, with AWS, I can manage around 300 AWS cloud-based servers on my own,” says Lee.

The company can also now scale its IT infrastructure faster compared to its previous environment. Lee uses the example of launching host servers in the cloud versus host servers on premises. “In an on-premises server, it took us around four hours to create five new host new servers. However, with AWS, the same job takes us 30 minutes or less. That’s an 800% increase in productivity,” says Lee.

Most importantly, IGS’ AWS services have maintained 99.999 percent uptime, which virtually eliminates accessibility issues. “The performance of our AWS services has met our expectations, and network performance has been excellent,” says Lee. Looking ahead, Lee believes the engagement with AWS will lead to more performance improvements over time. “Regular AWS technical training sessions and service updates with a local AWS partner, combined with discussions on market trends, will ensure IGS continues to thrive in the gaming industry for years to come,” says Lee.

To learn more about how AWS can help develop your gaming business, visit our AWS for Game Developers details page: http://aws.amazon.com/gaming/.