Find out how GamesSessions distributes games and let us know how you have found the download experience.
At GameSessions we want you to have the best possible experience downloading games. To do this we’ve built a sophisticated system that works hard to try and make downloading fast and efficient for players all over the world.
For all our games we use some of our proprietary compression technology. We have a number of patents (in our company name Tangentix) that you can take a look at. They will give you a sense of how we can do this especially well. We don’t use every technology for every game, but rather pick the best match of techniques to ensure that we get the best experience for every game.
The result of our process means that our games can be as small as 25% of the installed size. If you see we need more space on the disc than the data you see downloading, that’s a big part of the reason. The result of this compression is that everyone’s downloads take less time and you can start playing more quickly.
Giveaways and Trials
For trials we normally provide these games by download from either our own servers or one of our CDN (Content Delivery Network) partners.
For our Giveaways we have to be able to support millions of users downloading the same game at more-or-less the same time, without it becoming slow or very expensive. When we had our first really successful Giveaway, Ryse Son of Rome, we discovered very quickly just how challenging it can be to do this well. At one point during that promotion we came close to reaching Steam’s download rates! It was quite a challenge for the team and we had some late nights provisioning extra servers to keep up.
The team also has to consider the costs of providing downloads for Giveaways. It’s easy to see that with the costs of server bandwidth in some parts of the world being considerable, distributing 10, 20 or 30 GB of data is far harder for a free service.
Finally, we had to take into account how demand was spread right across the world. Users in nearly every country enjoyed our service, which means that it’s not practical for us to have server capacity lined up everywhere players want the game. We also have players living in countries where there are national firewalls that can cause a bottleneck on distribution of large files.
For all these reasons, we, just like nearly all the major games platforms and even Microsoft’s updates, have had to use a blend of different approaches to distribute the game. In particular, we now tend to supplement our use of conventional CDN’s with a degree of distribution between players. In practice, this means that each player gets some parts of the game and then shares those parts to their neighbours.
We don’t rely on this peer approach alone. Most people get around half of the game this way and half from our servers directly, and we vary the approach to try and help everyone get the game as smoothly and quickly as possible.
We are working towards a system that will give users a bit more control over the way the download happens. We would like to hear your feedback on what you’d prefer.
For now we have provided an option on install to not participate in sharing, but we haven’t finished working on this yet. Some users have asked to be able to control their bandwidth and we’re looking at that too. We also want to provide an option to change the download behaviour during the download, but that’s a bit further from being ready.
However, if you can, we would ask you to leave sharing on as this helps everyone get the game more quickly.
For some very large games, we may insist that it’s left on to prevent the loads on the servers slowing down delivery for everyone.
We use temporary storage (marked as such to the OS) to unpack the titles. To optimise download sizes, it is the pre-unpacked data we share with other players.
The updating system will automatically give you the option to delete these temporary files should your system start to run low on space. We have plans in the future to minimise how much space we need and to give you more control.
With most/all games, we have to unpack, verify and install the data once it is downloaded. As games are generally quite large, this process can be quite intensive. You may find that your computer is a bit sluggish at times, especially towards the end of the download, as this process works away in the background to get the game ready to play. However, once installed, we take no more resources than the game requires itself.
We analyse lots of the data we get about how people’s downloads have gone. At the moment we find that the speeds seem to average over 10mbps worldwide, and, for instance, in the US the average is closer to 25mbps.
We are very keen that we get the download experience as quick and painless as possible, but we do know there is plenty more we can improve!
How have you found the download experience?
How could we improve it for you?
Please get in touch (e.g. via the support forum or a support ticket) if you have feedback you’d like to share: