The internet doesn't care about your game
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
If you develop multiplayer games, you've almost certainly experienced players complaining about your game's network performance. You can tweak your netcode, change hosting providers, run game servers in more locations, but no matter what you do, players still complain about latency, jitter, and packet loss.
This is a huge problem for your multiplayer game. You want your players to have the best experience possible, but what can you do? In many cases, the problem is not your netcode, hosting provider or even the player's ISP. The real problem is that the internet doesn't care about your game.
How the internet really works
The internet was originally developed in the 1960s, which included work done on the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) project. The project embodies a key underlying technical idea: that of open-architecture networking in which multiple separate networks can be joined into a network of networks and communicate with each other.
In this open architecture, data is moved via "packet switching", a rapid store and forward networking design that divides messages up into packets, with routing decisions made on a per-packet basis. This was a far more efficient way to move data than traditional circuit switching, which passed individual bits on a synchronous basis along an end-to-end circuit between two points.
As the internet developed, so did the concept of network neutrality, which itself evolved from the notion of "common carrier" in which a company offers its services to the general public under the supervision of a regulatory organization. Network neutrality states that all ISPs must treat all internet traffic equally, and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, application and so on. The public embraced this idea because the internet could belong to us all. This is the internet we have today -- a network of networks that moves your packets on a "best-effort delivery" basis.
But "best effort" treats your game the same as browsing a website and checking your email, even though game traffic is real-time and extremely performance sensitive. The end result is the inconsistent network performance your users experience when they play your game online.
Are private networks the answer to better network performance?
Given the design of the public internet, it's simply not possible to code your way to the perfect network solution for your game. This makes private networks more attractive. But can private networks really solve the issue of game network performance?
While private networks, such as Riot Games' Riot Direct, can help lower latency, jitter and packet loss for one specific game, most developers cannot afford to build their own private network. Besides, how many private internets do we really need? The good news is that many private networks already exist, and these private networks have excess capacity. What if it was possible to boost your game's network performance by utilizing that excess capacity in those private networks?
This is the idea behind Network Next. We open up private networks that boost your game's network performance, without you having to build or maintain your own network infrastructure.
A neutral marketplace
But how can you be guaranteed a fair price and avoid being locked into a single vendor when traversing private networks? How can we find a market price for difference classes of network transit, while still respecting the spirit of network neutrality? We believe the answer lies in the concept of a neutral marketplace.
Network Next is the marketplace for premium network transit. Private networks compete on performance and price to carry your game's traffic. These private networks are CDNs, ISPs, enterprises, bare metal, and cloud providers, located all around the world, that have spent thousands of hours and many millions of dollars building out and optimizing their network infrastructure. As a game developer, all you have to do is integrate our SDK and specify the performance you want for your game. Then every ten seconds, Network Next runs a bid on its marketplace to find the best route for your players across our supplier networks.
The winning bid carries your player's traffic for the next 10 seconds, then the process is repeated every 10 seconds, for each player. This way, Network Next finds the best network performance at the best price, without locking you into a single vendor. If a player's network performance is already good enough for your game, that player is absolutely free. Players only take Network Next when their network performance can be meaningfully improved according to your requirements.
Our marketplace for premium transit is already showing amazing results across the globe.
From Brazil to the rural US to Trinidad and Tobago, Network Next is fixing bad routes and vastly lowering latency, jitter and packet loss for a very reasonable price. And you only pay when we significantly improve a player's connection.
We believe that every player, no matter where they're located, deserves the best gaming experience possible. And that's why we're making the internet better for games at Network Next.