Whether it is the launch of a new game, or much anticipated new release, or even a popular gaming period (like a holiday break), gaming studios need to be ready for surges in traffic. There are an estimated 1.1 billion online gamers worldwide and large events can mean millions of concurrent users. Even in typical traffic periods, virtual waiting rooms can balance server loads, ensure uptime, add revenue opportunities, ensure fair queues, match gamers, thwart bots, and improve the gaming experience to ensure continual playing enjoyment.

Balance server loads

Virtual waiting rooms play a vital role in the gaming industry's quest for efficient queue management. Especially during high-traffic events like promotions or game launches, the influx of players can strain game servers, resulting in issues such as lag and crashes. Virtual waiting rooms step in as a solution, ensuring a fair and equitable experience for all players.

These digital spaces help evenly distribute incoming players across servers, preventing overcrowding on a single server and optimizing server performance. As a result, players can enjoy a consistently smooth gaming experience without the frustration of server lag.

Prevent outages and streamline maintenance updates

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Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash

Gamers are easily frustrated when they can’t get in a system whether it is after waiting months to try out a new game - or when they try to play their favorite existing game.

In fall of 2021, a popular online game platform experienced a 3 day outage that resulted in a loss of revenue from virtual purchases for the game company and content creators - especially during the Halloween period.

Also, when a gaming service outages, rumors can affect a company's reputation. ​​Earlier this year, a popular game console experienced an outage that stoked gamers' fears that the company might be retiring support for an earlier generation, contrary to a statement they made about possible new games coming out.

While these situations may not reflect traffic or a server load issue (the online game platform specifically indicated it was not a traffic issue), many outages can be avoided when an intelligent waiting room queues traffic and balances loads across different origin services.

During server maintenance or updates, gaming companies can employ virtual waiting rooms to inform players about the downtime and manage their expectations. Players are placed in a queue until the maintenance is complete, reducing frustration and confusion.

It is important to remember any downtime can certainly affect a company’s revenue and may make gamers start considering other options for their gaming time and future purchases.

Leveraging wait time for marketing and players’ entertainment

People game for various reasons - socialization, entertainment, perhaps a few minutes or hours of escaping from challenges in their daily lives and immersing themselves in a virtual world of possibilities. The “gaming experience” should begin as soon as a player logs in and the virtual waiting room is another chance to delight gamers and gauge their interest.

Virtual waiting rooms aren't just about managing queues; they can also be a valuable marketing tool. Consider this: while players wait their turn, they're an attentive audience with time to spare. Why not use this time to engage with them and make it fun? Smart gaming companies have started using virtual waiting rooms to showcase add-ons, new games, or special offers. Statistica research indicated that gaming revenue would reach $172B this year and that $81B was in-app purchases. This creative use of wait time can boost cross-selling and upselling opportunities.

Adding excitement and stability to event launches

Gaming companies frequently use virtual waiting rooms during major events like game launches, expansions, or in-game events. Players are placed in a queue, and they enter the game in the order they joined the queue. This prevents server crashes and provides a controlled and organized start to the event.

Making premium access a true VIP experience

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Photo by Alfred Quartey on Unsplash

Virtual waiting rooms can transform the premium gaming experience by recreating the feeling of being a true VIP with exclusive privileges. For premium players that pay extra for early access to new content or servers, the waiting room acts as a virtual velvet rope, setting them apart from regular players.

Async games can offer galleries showcasing premium-only concept art, cosmetics, and other exclusive content to engage players while they wait to enter. For synchronous games like MMOs, the waiting room can host mini-games, quizzes, character customization, and interactions between premium players to make the wait time fly by.

Once the queue has cleared, doors could open triggering an exciting animation or sound effect signaling that premium players can now enter before anyone else. The waiting room experience taps into people's desire for status and exclusivity. Done right, it can make premium access feel like joining an exclusive club. Allowing premium players to bypass tedious queues to access exclusive lounges turns waiting from a nuisance into a privilege, enhancing the value of their membership.

Fair access and matching

Maintaining an equitable and consistent experience is critical for customer satisfaction. Intelligent virtual waiting rooms optimize access through advanced algorithms that queue users fairly based on configurable policies like:

  • First-In-First-Out (FIFO): Players enter the game server in the order they joined the queue, reflecting the natural flow of arrivals.
  • Random: Players are assigned random positions in the queue, adding an element of chance and preventing players from timing their logins to jump the line.
  • Lottery: Players are entered into a randomized lottery draw for queue positions, similar to a raffle. This prevents queues from always favoring the same set of players.

Players can also be matched with others of similar skill levels while waiting, for better gameplay experiences once in-game. The queue could be dynamically adjusted based on real-time assessments of the number of players online or the demand for matches.

The customizable queue placement models ensure resources are distributed fairly using access rules tailored to the specific business use case. Intelligent virtual waiting rooms deliver optimization through flexible, user-centric service policies that maintain fairness and enhance the player experience.

Thwarting DDoS attacks and bad bots

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Photo by Unsplash+ In collaboration with Allison Saeng

Intelligent virtual waiting rooms help defend against DDoS attacks and cheating bots in online games. During major launches or esports events, bad actors may try to overwhelm servers with traffic to disguise cheating attempts. Some examples in gaming include:

  • New expansion releases: Attackers could flood servers with requests to more easily scoop up limited inventory, game currencies, or character names for resale.
  • Esports tournaments: DDoS attacks could be used to lag competitor connections to gain an advantage.
  • Leaderboard hacks: Creating traffic surges may allow cheaters to disguise illegitimate high scores or achievement unlocks.
  • Drop/skin farming: Bots can overwhelm servers to more efficiently farm rare game drops or cosmetic skins for resale on gray markets.

By controlling and metering incoming traffic, virtual waiting rooms filter out suspicious traffic spikes. This combats DDoS disruptions and cheating, freeing up security teams to focus on game integrity. The waiting rooms provide a layer of defense, maintaining availability for legitimate players while stopping cheaters and hackers.

Why some virtual waiting rooms fall short

Not all virtual waiting rooms are created equal. Basic implementations can easily get overwhelmed by traffic surges, leaving users stuck in an endless loop. They may struggle to differentiate between real users and unknown bots. Some lack real-time updates to keep users informed and engaged while waiting.

Elevate game playing with PhotonIQ Virtual Waiting Rooms

PhotonIQ’s Virtual Waiting Rooms deliver low latency protection and smooth experiences for online games. Powered by AI, the waiting rooms act as an intelligent gatekeeper, carefully controlling the flow of players entering game servers.

The queue priority and access rules are fully customizable based on criteria like server loads, suspicious traffic patterns, player thresholds, traffic spike alerts, or other defined conditions. Advanced routing can recognize returning players, send suspected cheating bots to infinite loops, or offer promotional opportunities to players in queue.

Key metrics like server utilization, duplicate request rate, and peak queue length allow gaming companies to optimize the settings for fair, low-latency access worldwide. Players stay informed with real-time queue status and updates. Virtual waiting rooms smooth uneven traffic patterns, absorb malicious attacks, and enhance gameplay for legitimate fans. The intelligent queuing eliminates disruptive lag, maintaining seamless gaming connectivity.

Learn more today and be ready for Virtual Waiting Rooms 2.0!

The role of virtual waiting rooms in the gaming industry extends far beyond mere queue management. They are critical tools for maintaining server stability, ensuring fairness, and enhancing overall player satisfaction. A well-implemented virtual waiting room strategy can lead to better gaming experiences, higher player retention, and increased revenue for gaming companies.

To learn more about how PhotonIQ can elevate gaming experiences with intelligent Virtual Waiting Rooms, chat with an Enterprise Solution Architect.

Photo by Unsplash+In collaboration with Ave Calvar