JoyCity Levels Up with AWS Global Accelerator


Gaming takes players to a world of their own, but network latency (commonly called lag) drags them right back to reality. South Korean online gaming company and developer JoyCity saw that its customers were having latency issues, and instead of accepting lag, jitter, and network timeouts as inevitable, the company took action. They found a way to significantly reduce network issues with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Global Accelerator, which in turn led to gamers playing longer game sessions. AWS Global Accelerator is a service that improves the availability and performance of applications with local or global users by leveraging the AWS global network to route user traffic to its application endpoints.

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AWS Global Accelerator dropped the number of network timeouts by 8 times in some countries.”

SanAh Kang
Platform Team Leader, NDREAM (parent company of JoyCity)

Identifying Network Latency Problems

Founded in South Korea in 1994, JoyCity first achieved gaming success when it developed FreeStyle, an online PC sports game launched nationally. In the last decade, JoyCity has expanded internationally and into mobile gaming, solidifying its position as a serious player in the industry with millions of downloads of such hits as Gunship Battle Total Warfare and Pirates of the Caribbean: Tides of War.

The company strives to maintain a successful portfolio of titles that is competitive in its user base, technological prowess, and speed. But as the company expanded into new geographic territories, it realized the need to improve its network performance as more and more gamers around the world started playing JoyCity games.

There are two big networking factors that impact the online experience: latency and jitter. Latency is responsible for how responsive a game feels and is the amount of time that it takes for data to make a round trip from the player to the game instance and then back again. Jitter is the variation in latency, and high jitter creates an inconsistent feel. SanAh Kang, platform team leader at JoyCity’s parent company, NDREAM, noticed a growing number of users complaining about latency and did some investigating. “We built our games with the assumption that players would have a latency of under 200 milliseconds, but in some geographies players were seeing 300–350 milliseconds,” says Kang. “This was too slow for users to play and enjoy our games.” Latency and jitter interrupt play and often mean the difference between players enjoying their experience, thereby spending more time playing, or players dropping out of a game, never to return. Solving this problem was critical to the success of JoyCity’s games.

Finding the Right Stability

JoyCity initially explored solutions from other cloud vendors but ultimately settled on AWS. “AWS Global Accelerator has a low cost compared to other vendors,” says Kang. “And also it was easy to set up and integrate with our existing AWS workloads.” AWS Global Accelerator uses the AWS backbone and terminates TCP connections at the edge, providing up to a 60 percent improvement in TCP throughput, which means lower latency and fewer interruptions for game users.

But before JoyCity committed, it decided to put AWS Global Accelerator through its paces to make sure it could handle the kind of traffic and performance JoyCity’s millions of end users would need. With one test, Kang went from skeptical to excited.

“I ran an A/B test with AWS Global Accelerator and without it,” says Kang, and he found that AWS Global Accelerator not only improved network performance but also increased JoyCity’s user reliability metrics, which might encourage players to play the game for longer. “AWS Global Accelerator dropped the number of network timeouts by a factor of 8 in some countries,” says Kang. “It definitely makes performance much better.” On average, JoyCity saw a reduction in network timeouts by a factor of 2.4 when testing globally. 

Getting AWS Global Accelerator into the Game

After seeing these clear performance improvements, JoyCity rolled AWS Global Accelerator out for use with 80 percent of its games, with the support of the AWS team. “I was very happy with the AWS solutions architects and account managers who helped us out, providing references and sharing tests,” Kang says. “We are very happy working with AWS.”

Almost immediately, JoyCity noticed the effects of transitioning to AWS Global Accelerator: “We started to get better performance in all the games that use AWS Global Accelerator—players now had latency under 200 milliseconds, not to mention the reduction in network timeouts,” says Kang. JoyCity also saw a drop in latency-related complaints, proving that gamers have noticed the change too. “AWS Global Accelerator has definitely saved us time dealing with customer complaints,” says Kang. “Now we can focus on developing games that our players love, rather than on networking problems.”

Continuing to Improve

The positive experience is leading JoyCity’s parent company NDREAM to expand its use of AWS Global Accelerator. It plans to integrate AWS Global Accelerator into its other subsidiaries, including Mojito Games. Supported by AWS Global Accelerator, JoyCity, with over 200 million app downloads worldwide and thousands more each month, is clearly winning the game of customer satisfaction, both in keeping its current user base content and in capturing more of the market around the globe. 

About JoyCity

Based in South Korea, JoyCity is an online global gaming company and developer of the successful FreeStyle sports series. In the last decade, it has expanded internationally and into mobile gaming, solidifying its position as a serious player in the gaming industry.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduced network timeouts by 8x
  • Decreased network latency from 350 to under 200 ms
  • Receives fewer lag complaints from player

AWS Services Used

AWS Global Accelerator

AWS Global Accelerator is a service that improves the availability and performance of your applications with local or global users. It provides static IP addresses that act as a fixed entry point to your application endpoints in a single or multiple AWS Regions, such as your Application Load Balancers, Network Load Balancers or Amazon EC2 instances.

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