Social gaming used to mean sharing screenshots of your new high score or bragging about it to friends the next time you hung out.
Today, however, the gaming experience is much more immediate and complex as social gaming has dramatically evolved over the last 18 months with people being limited to connecting virtually.
And the desire for shared experiences continues to push gaming to new innovative heights. Users demand fully immersive experiences like never before, including leveraging Real-Time Engagement (RTE) tools within virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), among others.
Read on to learn what the future holds for interactive gaming, and what tools turn video game play between friends into interactive and social experiences.
Building Meaningful Connections in Gaming
Being social is human nature and people will seek ways to find deeper connections despite physical limitations.
RTE, for example, allows people, regardless of location, to connect with others in a more natural human-to-human way within digital environments like video games. By including live interactive video and voice chat, social gaming is enriching the overall experience to the point that in some ways it becomes improved over the traditional peer-to-peer physical experience.
However, to achieve this immersive experience, it takes more than a well-developed game. It takes a high-quality real-time video solution with clear audio and a clean interface.
And real-time isn’t easy to achieve with regular packet loss over the public internet often creating latency issues across overcrowded networks that are not conducive to playing against someone in the town next door, let alone across the globe.
Steps to Creating a Great User Experience
Step 1: Gaming Powered by Voice
Over the past decade, the player experience has shifted from offline single-player to online multiplayer as gamers around the globe are embracing team-focused gameplay.
In recent years the e-sports world has exploded with major events like the “League of Legends” World Championship final even outdrawing the Super Bowl.
In these game modes, real-time voice chat and collaboration are paramount to the success of the gamers, as well as the overall experience. The addition of truly real-time voice communication to gaming has positively impacted the video bitrate as well as audio quality.
But by utilizing an audio codec, gamers now can have a conversation with their teammates over the internet, regardless of location, with low latency and clarity.
This increase in engagement leads to an increase in long-term play, meaning players will come back to the game time and time again.
Step Two: High Quality Video
In a perfect world, packet loss, excessive buffering and overall network congestion wouldn’t inhibit the highest video and audio quality. When it comes to video quality for an online multiplayer game to meet the needs of the consumer, Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) issues can devastate gamers—and your business.
That’s because just a fraction of a second of lag can mean the difference between unlocking video game glory and achievements and having to start all over again.
QoE can’t be achieved with a game that constantly lags or abruptly shuts down. It only takes one bad experience with playability to affect player retention. And again, that is your business.
In creating a seamless user experience and guaranteeing player satisfaction, it’s important that data servers adapt to varying changes of the rendered video streams on every device.
For a video game experience to achieve QoS, the video solution must be able to provide reliable, frictionless, mobile-to-mobile connectivity regardless of device, operating system, or geographic location.
Challenges of the Real-Time User Experience
The biggest challenge to any real-time, interactive experience is the network and its connection. Network-related considerations like latency can completely ruin live audio communication and video quality in less than a second.
These considerations become increasingly important when you have a global audience or are playing with users in areas with poorer internet infrastructure.
Everything sent across a digital network, including both audio and video, is broken into small pieces (packets) that find their way to the other end, often by separate routes, where they must be reassembled.
These packets are routinely lost and/or delivered out of order across the internet. While there are several strategies for handling a mix-up in order, these are detrimental to the real-time experience because they cause latency in your communication.
Delivering immersive, real-time, audio engagement is all about finding the appropriate balance—between sound quality and deliverability. To achieve that beautiful balance, you need to find a solution that has these two core technologies; codec and a low-latency network.
By solving the audio part of the user experience, you are allowing users to get the full gaming experience that will keep them coming back for more.
The Way Forward
Streaming and video sharing during games isn’t easy. It requires high-quality rendering and fluid motion. As real-time shared and interactive experiences continue to increase in demand, so too will the demand for innovation. Agora’s real-time voice, video, 3D Spatial Audio, and live interactive streaming is powering gaming systems, turning multi-player games into social platforms.
The technology makes video and audio streaming real-time (latency in the milliseconds) with backend infrastructure and proprietary algorithms to optimize network traffic. Agora’s intelligent real-time network (SD-RTN™) provides a consistent, high-quality experience so players can focus on the game and inter-player interactions.
Agora’s network provides a direct path to players. Advanced in-house algorithms provide adaptive video resolution while video rendering and seamless channel switching provide a reliable stream without delay, against even the most challenging network conditions.
For more on how real-time engagement is revolutionizing gamer interaction, read our solutions brief: Harness the Power of Social Interactions to Deliver Captivating Gaming Experience.