Founded in 2002 and as of 2014 a wholly-owned subsidiary of Churchill Downs, Big Fish is the world’s largest producer and distributor of casual games, delivering fun to millions of people around the world. Through its mobile and online distribution platforms, Big Fish has distributed more than 2.5 billion games to customers in 150 countries. The company offers a growing catalogue of 450+ unique mobile and 3,500+ unique PC and Mac games. Among its top games is the number-one, top-grossing mobile casino app, Big Fish Casino, available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon, Facebook, PC and Mac.
Big Fish has a global presence with a website serving customers in 11 languages, which includes a significant and growing percentage of those on mobile devices, about half of whom are located outside the United States. To enable a fast and consistent experience for audiences accessing games from so many different device types and regions, Big Fish needed to overcome the limitations of delivering downloads from just two US-based data centers. It also needed to address security concerns, namely protecting its games and website against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), DoS, SQL injection and XSS threats and attacks.
Big Fish needed to meet two key requirements to support its objectives:
Tapping into Vast Value
Big Fish recognized that the fast, secure delivery of gaming content around the globe was vital to its business success. However, it also realized it did not want to focus its resources on developing and maintaining a highly sophisticated, globally distributed network. With that in mind, it chose to engage a content delivery network (CDN) provider.
After evaluating its options, it felt Akamai best addressed its requirements for a proven, high-performance game delivery solution, a highly available and globally distributed server footprint, and a suite of products Big Fish could take advantage of as needed. The gaming company also appreciated Akamai’s vast experience supporting businesses in dynamic and rapidly growing industries.
Since 2011, Big Fish has taken advantage of a suite of seamlessly integrated services: Ion, NetStorage, and more recently, Kona Site Defender.
Ensuring an Optimal End-User Experience
Big Fish’ games range in size from kilobytes to multiple gigabytes. Leveraging Akamai’s local edge servers and pre-warming caches in remote parts of the world allows Big Fish to deliver even the largest file sizes quickly. For example, to provide new, fresh content for its game called Gummy Drop, Big Fish uses Akamai’s network to store additional assets in servers local to players. As a result, when players complete a city, they can quickly download the next one and continue playing without interruption.
At the same time, Akamai helps Big Fish adeptly address the varying requirements associated with serving files to devices on different platforms. For instance, while players on PCs and Macs download large files, those on mobile devices download smaller sizes as dictated by Amazon, Apple and Google app stores. To date, Akamai has helped Big Fish deliver tens of billions of files. Akamai’s test results show that by using Ion and NetStorage, Big Fish is able to deliver file sizes 30-40%+ faster.
According to Sean Chighizola, VP of IT Operations for Big Fish, “Akamai’s solutions create value for our customers by increasing the reliability and performance of the games we serve to all platforms. This allows our customers to start playing games sooner, for a better game experience.”
Stopping Security Threats in their Tracks
Over the years, Big Fish has witnessed the increase in security threats, including DDoS and web vulnerabilities such as Shellshock. To ensure these threats do not prevent customers from accessing and playing its games, Big Fish chose to use Akamai’s Kona Site Defender product. Akamai’s Premium Service & Support team helped ensure a smooth implementation and provides continued support to review and monitor the effectiveness of the rules in Kona Site Defender.
As Chighizola explains, Akamai’s offerings align well with the Big Fish business model for supporting a global customer base and remaining a top competitor in social casino and free-to-play mobile markets. “With Akamai as a partner, we are able to quickly and reliably serve our games worldwide. As head of IT Operations, it’s my job to enable business improvement. The key is to find vendors that provide technology and solutions that allow our developers to run free and fast. Using Akamai’s network as our distribution platform enables us to build and innovate so we can be business enablers,” concludes Chighizola.
Founded in 2002, Big Fish Games is the world’s largest producer and distributor of casual games, delivering fun to millions of people around the world. Through its mobile and online distribution platforms, Big Fish has distributed more than 2.5 billion games to customers in 150 countries from a growing catalogue of 450+ unique mobile games and 3,500+ unique PC games. After successfully transitioning from a PC-centric to a mobile-centric company, Big Fish has emerged as a top grossing mobile publisher worldwide with a portfolio that includes the #1 mobile social casino game, Big Fish Casino. The company is headquartered in Seattle, WA, with regional offices in Oakland, CA, and Luxembourg.