Games24x7 Uses Machine Learning on AWS to Personalize the Gaming User Experience
ML Models Drive Core Business Logic
As India's leading gaming company, Games24x7 is known for its flagship products like RummyCircle, which offers online rummy, and My11Circle, which offers fantasy sports, both for real money. These products are known for their ability to engage players meaningfully as Games24x7 leaves no stone unturned in leveraging technology and data science to hyper-personalize game playing experiences for its players. Games24x7 has also ventured into the extremely competitive casual games space in the United States and will continue to grow internationally and domestically through its innovative games.
Data has always been at the heart of Games24x7. As the company expands, it has started transitioning to a “model-driven,” rather than a data-driven, enterprise, with machine learning (ML) models guiding core business logic across the operation. “We think of our tech stack as an ultimate enabler of ML models. Our ability to customize the game playing experiences based on user choices and interests is what sets us apart,” says Sandeep Agarwal, chief technology officer at Games24x7.
“We can use the same tech stack on AWS to replicate our hosting environment across multiple regions.”
Chief Technology Officer, Games24x7
Eliminating Bottlenecks with Built-In Scalability
Until 2018, Games24x7 was hosting its infrastructure in a colocated data center. After the first year of operations, however, the company experienced several growth spurts that more than doubled its user base. The business then realized that its colocation environment was not suited to handle these sudden spikes in capacity. Games24x7 had to give advance notice when new servers were needed, which caused operational bottlenecks. Regular periods of downtime that lasted from a few minutes up to 90 minutes plagued the system, and engineers had poor visibility into their tech stack, which hindered their ability to troubleshoot effectively.
A Customer-Centric Culture
When Agarwal joined the company in 2018, he recommended migrating to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud to improve agility and take advantage of cloud-native ML services such as Amazon SageMaker. Agarwal also chose to migrate to AWS based on his positive experience with the company and the dedication of AWS to excellent customer service. “AWS is probably the most customer-centric cloud service provider that I’ve come across,” he says.
This customer focus was evident during Games24x7’s migration to the AWS Cloud. The company subscribes to AWS Enterprise Support, and together with its dedicated AWS Technical Account Manager, engineers went through the AWS Infrastructure Event Management exercise to plan for migration two months before it actually took place. Migration commenced overnight at 3:00 a.m., and Agarwal was impressed by the fact that the AWS team was physically present to collaborate in the process.
Visibility to Identify and Rectify System Issues
To monitor its applications, Games24x7 now uses Amazon CloudWatch, which provides real-time alerts that help engineers identify and act on potential bottlenecks before they occur in order to prevent a disruption to the user experience. Agarwal vividly recalls the day of migration, when everyone on his team was keenly checking various metrics on Amazon CloudWatch pertaining to managed microservices and adjusting settings to see if they could improve latency or performance.
“It was an awesome experience, seeing our engineers excited about this new capability,” Agarwal says. “Bringing observability into our tech stack has helped enormously with real-time reactions to any system event.”
Doubling the Scale of Online Tournaments
A few months after migrating to AWS, the scalability of the Games24x7 platform was put to the test. The company hosted an online Rummy tournament with double the number of players it had hosted in the past. Despite this significant increase, Games24x7’s AWS architecture scaled seamlessly with no downtime.
In the two years since its migration, user engagement at Games24x7—measured by the number of games each user plays and the number of new players added each day—has increased by nearly 400 percent. Engineers are in continual conversation with their AWS representatives to tweak the system and improve resilience.
Preventing Fraud and Collusion
As the game of Rummy involves real money, Games24x7 has to stay vigilant to prevent fraud and collusion during tournaments. It uses the Amazon Neptune graph database to detect if two players in a game are colluding to beat the other four players. This is accomplished by assigning a table in the database to each player when they log in.
The speed of detection and time taken to respond to security threats have improved since migrating to the AWS Cloud. Games24x7 uses AWS Shield Advanced to detect and mitigate threats to its applications. In recent months, engineers have had real-time visibility into a sharp increase in attack vectors coming from different countries. They immediately recognized this as an aberration, given the company’s domestic user base, and were able to thwart the attacks with help from the AWS Enterprise Support and AWS DDoS Response Team.
Iterating at Speed to Test New Features
The gaming market moves rapidly, with users regularly seeking new levels or challenges. Similar to movie productions, developing a successful game usually entails several attempts before the right design is achieved. Games24x7’s objective is to iterate at speed in order to test and discard multiple ideas.
Engineers rely on an in-house experimentation engine to test new features or games before bringing them to market. They leverage Amazon SageMaker to build and deploy ML models that quickly weed out bad ideas in the experimentation engine. This helps the engineers design new levels, characters, and features that will appeal to users.
Bringing Four New Games to Market Abroad
Games24x7 is now focused on building its gaming community abroad. The company plans to leverage AWS Regions and Availability Zones where its target user base resides to ensure the low latency required to keep gamers’ attention. “We can use the same tech stack on AWS to replicate our hosting environment across multiple regions,” Agarwal says.
Skill-based gaming for real money will always remain popular among players. As such, Games24x7 has introduced two or three new games a year since launching. With an increasingly robust development pipeline, its goal is to introduce one new game per quarter, which would put Games24x7 at the forefront of the industry.
Founded by Bhavin Pandya and Trivikraman Thampy in 2006, Games24x7 is an online gaming company headquartered in India, with a portfolio that spans skill games (Rummy Circle and My11Circle) and casual games. The company specializes in using behavioral science, technology, and artificial intelligence to provide awesome gaming experiences across its platforms.
- Personalizes user experience with ML
- Scales user base 400% in 2 years
- Iterates fast to bring new features to market
- Prevents fraud and collusion during games
- Adds visibility to troubleshoot system errors
- Saves time with managed services
AWS Services Used
Amazon SageMaker is a fully managed service that provides every developer and data scientist with the ability to build, train, and deploy machine learning (ML) models quickly.
Amazon Neptune is a fast, reliable, fully managed graph database service that makes it easy to build and run applications that work with highly connected datasets. The core of Amazon Neptune is a purpose-built, high-performance graph database engine optimized for storing billions of relationships and querying the graph with milliseconds latency.
AWS Shield Advanced
AWS Shield is a managed Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection service that safeguards applications running on AWS. AWS Shield provides always-on detection and automatic inline mitigations that minimize application downtime and latency, so there is no need to engage AWS Support to benefit from DDoS protection. There are two tiers of AWS Shield - Standard and Advanced.
AWS Enterprise Support
AWS Enterprise Support provides you with concierge-like service where the main focus is helping you achieve your outcomes and find success in the cloud.
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