Founded in 2001 and headquartered in France, Ankama is an independent group that produces digital creations and employs over 300 people. The company creates and distributes a number of original massive multiplayer role-playing games (MMORPG) such as Dofus-Arena and Wakfu. One of those games, DOFUS, is the company’s leading product and a global phenomenon with respect to online video games. Today, DOFUS has more than 16 million players, including 2 million subscribers, in 150 countries.
In addition to supporting fairly heavy traffic volume on a regular basis, Ankama needed to manage the huge traffic spikes that occur when it releases a game update on its portal. Often several million gamers will try to access the portal simultaneously for these game downloads leading to long download times, sluggish web performance and complaints. In response, Ankama was forced to provision extra bandwidth – a costly and temporary solution. “Not only did we need to handle massive spikes, we wanted to ensure that our highly dynamic site would perform flawlessly so gamers could easily get to the downloads. Ultimately, we needed a long-term solution that could support our aggressive plans for growth,” explains Thomas Bahon, Ankama’s Director of Products.
To support its objectives, Ankama needed a software delivery solution that met the following requirements:
Ankama tried software delivery solutions from a number of small hosting companies, but these proved inadequate at ensuring high levels of web performance for large crowds. “We were constantly directing our traffic to various hosting companies without success. It was not a practical way to deal with our traffic spikes,” says Bahon.
Ankama even considered deploying game servers around the world. “We would have had to deploy 50-60 servers. This would have been cost-prohibitive and complicated to manage because of the increase in the number of subscribers in some countries,” continues Bahon.
The company spent several months looking for a cloud services provider to ensure optimal bandwidth quality for both everyday web traffic and dramatic load increases. Then it was introduced to Akamai. Akamai, a benchmark partner of top gaming publishers, recommended its Download Delivery solution. After a one-month testing phase, Ankama was convinced. The software updates downloaded faster than before and with greater reliability.
While Ankama was thrilled with the web performance improvement, it knew it needed to address all areas of its online presence. “If our site doesn’t perform well, it doesn’t matter how fast and reliable our downloads are. Akamai’s global network was able to handle massive traffic spikes – some exceeding 24 Gbps – without fail. This combined with its unique performance optimization suite for rich, dynamic content and strong commitment to service quality were the key reasons that we chose Akamai,” continues Bahon.
Understanding the importance of the entire consumer experience, Akamai recommended its Rich Media Accelerator (RMA) solution. By leveraging proprietary protocols, RMA accelerates dynamic content — such as rich, heavy, personalized online content that is rendered on the fly — resulting in significant web performance gains and a much improved web experience. “Since implementing the RMA solution, our content is delivered 65% faster. This has led to an increase in site popularity, user satisfaction and the number of hits on our websites,” says Bahon.
Ankama also leveraged Akamai’s IP Application Accelerator (IPA) solution to optimize the online gaming experience. “Our games are essentially delivered over the TCP protocol as an application,” explains Bahon. “Unfortunately, during times of heavy site traffic or low end- user bandwidth, the application would suffer from latency. When the gaming experience is interrupted or slow, end users get frustrated,” says Bahon.
Akamai IPA addresses core Internet weaknesses to optimize website performance, availability and real-time sensitivity associated with Ankama’s IP-enabled games. “Akamai provides instant scalability along with fast, reliable downloads and robust performance that is critical to helping us achieve our targeted growth. Now we can accomplish that without deploying game servers around the world,” continues Bahon.
All of Akamai’s solutions are managed cloud services, eliminating the need for Ankama to deploy additional hardware and software as it expands its business reach. It also means that Ankama does not have to worry about possibly overloading its own software delivery platform when releasing new patches, upgrades, and demos. “Since partnering with Akamai, our technical teams have been able to breathe more easily. Instead of monitoring each new release — and scrambling to address performance issues — they are free to work on site and game enhancements that will help us reach our objectives,” concludes Bahon.
Founded by Anthony Roux, Camille Chafer and Emmanuel Darras in Roubaix in 2001, ANKAMA is an independent group which produces digital creations and employs over 300 people. The international success of the group’s MMORPG DOFUS, with more than 16 million players, enabled ANKAMA to branch out into several related industries: online games, publishing, animations, web design, press, mobile phone services, video games for next gen’ consoles. ANKAMA is also developing Wakfu, a crossmedia project composed of animated cartoon, video game, card game and comic book. For more information, visit our official website: www.ankama-group.com