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18 Posts authored by: ablanchard

Safe for the Holidays

Posted by ablanchard Nov 18, 2016

November is a good time to pause and appreciate all the work behind the scenes Limelight customers have done to prepare for the holidays. Anticipating the holiday rush, retail and entertainment customers have worked hard on their websites, re-configuring and adapting them to being an important front door.  Video-on-demand sites have cached and stored multiple copies of the most popular movies.  Game publishers have prepared their multi-cdn configurations for massive traffic flows that begin in November and continue throughout December.   Much of this preparation started back in January-- with account reviews and planning sessions where customers worked with their Limelight rep to identify online trends that would impact their coming year.  

Planning ahead, however, means more than just configuring for friendly online traffic.   Especially for retail, entertainment, and financial sites, there is a real “Grinch” out there in the form of cyber threats, particularly web application and DDoS attacks.   You may recall the original Grinch slithered down chimneys and stole presents, food, and decorations put out for the holidays.  Like the Grinch, a web application attack can sneak in and target customer records, stealing them in minutes or less, then whoosh up the chimney with customer data that has taken all year to collect.  However, unlike the Grinch, Web Application attacks sometimes leave no trace they have stolen from you, and - they can happen all year round.  Data breaches, which occur in almost 40% of web app attacks, are expensive to recover from, plus lead to serious customer churn after the fact.  Research shows that the size and value of data breaches is growing year over year. 


That’s why in August, Limelight announced its Web Application Firewall solution (WAF) that can block multiple types of application attacks. It protects against well-known “Grinches” out there, as well as villains specific to your industry.  Limelight’s WAF solution allows you to customize your detection rules to block unique, specific threats.  In addition, our DDoS Attack Interceptor, announced last year, absorbs and scrubs botnet attacks. And here’s the real holiday news: they are both easy to implement and extremely cost effective.


Following the August announcement, on November 10, Limelight hosted a webinar: Key Strategies and Best Practices To Proactively Protect Digital Assets and Apps .  You can watch this online for a 5000 ft view of practical steps to protect content, using resources and capabilities that are within easy technical and financial reach of any CDN customer.  Not only does it cover the ability to turn on a Web Application Firewall, it covers existing security suite features in the Limelight CDN that can protect your content and control website access.  For a total summary, read our recently updated whitepaper: Limelight, 10 Ways to Protect Your Digital Content, 2016.


“Every Who Down in Who-Ville liked Christmas a lot.  But the Grinch who lived just north of Who-Ville… did NOT”

                                                                                                         from How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss


Sophisticated, highly interactive websites are what we help customers build and run every day.  But increasingly, our business will be helping those same customers protect all the valuable customer experience data they collect as a function of having a fabulous website.   Read more, and we look forward to planning with you in 2017.

When the Volkswagon diesel emission scandal erupted, people wondered- why doesn’t VW just download new software into its cars and fix the problem?  In the era where consumers can download phone apps in seconds, as well as new phone software while they sleep, this is a logical question.  By its own admission, VW deliberately programmed its vehicles to run differently during emission testing compared with how cars were allowed to run on the road.  Scandal erupted when it was discovered that VW diesel cars that had excellent emissions ratings during testing, were in fact, emitting up to 40 times more pollutants under road conditions.


So why couldn’t VW just download new software and declare the problem solved?  Put simply, in many vehicles, the compromised software was hiding a hardware problem.  (Software engineers might relate to this)  Installing compliant software would simply expose the higher emissions. Completely correcting the problem required not just installing compliant software, but making real adjustments to the engine and exhaust system so they produce less pollution.


The cost to VW has been astronomical – close to $15B ($14.7B based on the latest ruling).    Approximately $10B will go toward compensating owners of cars with the offending VW diesel engines, while $2.7B will go towards projects to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and $2B is slated toward green energy projects.  On top of this, VW lost tens of billions in market value which it has not fully recovered almost a year later.


Car manufacturers are already familiar with the high cost of recalls and fixes.  The VW scenario is an extreme case of needing to fix a problem quickly with a high volume of cars.  That, and the cost of the VW disaster, are catalysts for designing even greater software control over engine parameters, and finding more efficient ways to distribute new software updates to car owners.


There is currently plenty of opportunity for improvement.  In the US, car manufacturers are legally prevented from operating dealerships in many states. Dealerships have shown their willingness to fight back against car manufacturers that want to a a direct relationship with owners, as evidenced by the numerous legal battles that newcomer Tesla is now waging.  The result is that car fixes and recalls can take years to propagate through the entire system of arms-length relationships, with the loser being the consumer.


As the car industry becomes more software driven however, manufacturers and dealerships, as well as authorized service stations are all looking for faster ways to get consumers the latest functionality. Hence the intense, ongoing interest in software and firmware-over-the-air (FOTA) strategies.  FOTA for the auto industry will require network solutions that can handle large volumes of software, integrate with global delivery models and handle billions of updates.  It's a tall order, but one that content delivery networks are likely to play a role in.  Already CDN's handle distributing software and firmware updates to millions of phones, TV’s and consumer appliances.  Their capacity and flexibility will likely put them at the center of the car's software download evolution as well.

Beneath the multiple topic tracks at the 2016 Game Developer’s Conference —which ranged from AI to Esports to community management—a silent competition was waging right in the center of the Expo floor. This year, game engine companies Epic, Unity and Crytek returned to the center of the exhibition space, only to have to share it with new arrival: Amazon’s Lumberyard.


In their effort to attract the best and brightest of the world’s game developers, the engine companies are borrowing from the phrase ‘If you build it they will come” by betting on a new version “if they build on it, they will stay”.  This year there is more at stake than ever before as two huge developments hit the gaming industry and developers need and want help with both of them.  The first development is virtual reality—developers need and want help integrating the best player technology with the best rendering and design technology to help them build high quality games that feature the best aspects of this rapidly growing phenomenon.  The second is player to player connectivity—developers want tools that enable their gamers to connect with each other even more seamlessly than before. Not only is connectivity key to the competition that drives Esports, but it’s key to integrating gaming with gamers’ social circles.


So let’s take a look at the turf staked out by each of these companies, as well as the economic model the companies have put in place to incentivize developers to 'build and stay'.


                                                                                                                                       Picture Source

Epic spent a morning session highlighting the advanced features of its Unreal 4 Engine and made it clear they see a future for their developers that spans beyond gaming into state-of-the art product design, virtual reality applications, and film creation. Their wide-ranging talk included several stunning demonstrations to prove their point. In one, an actress’ every movement and emotion were incorporated in real time into a game world, plus digitalized for future possible use. The result was a powerful fusion of live human action and the fantastic world of a 3D game. In another demonstration spilling over into real life, the Unreal Engine 4 was used to create realistic car designs, so detailed they could actually be used in custom building the McClaren automobile (one of which was on display at their booth). Epic is blurring the lines between cinematography and game making, as well as fully embracing virtual reality. Everything demonstrated in this talk showed they are serious about their intent to own the high end of visual production and design.


The revenue model for Epic reflects their confidence in the engine. Over a year ago they started giving away their engine for free, in return for a 5% percent cut of a developers’ product or game revenues once they hit a certain amount per month. By empowering high-end creativity, they position themselves to share in major successes, but also take on the challenge of providing a highly sophisticated solution that is extremely powerful.


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Crytek released its CRYENGINE V at GDC which will provide integration with an impressive range of virtual reality solutions and hardware, Playstation VR, OSVR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Crytek also announced new partners in its VR initiative, aimed at supporting VR research and development at leading universities by providing hardware and funding. AMD, Leap Motion, OSVR, and Razer are now partners in this initiative. Crytek business development manager was quoted as saying “Now we are much closer to our goal of forming a global VR community.


The business model for Crytek’s engine is based on offering developers a community, not just for marketing and selling their games, but for actual IP as well. Crytek gives away their engine for “whatever developers want to pay” and includes with it, access to the CRYENGINE Marketplace. The Marketplace offers thousands of game assets created by CRYENGINE users, including those collected by the company over the years. Given the impressive set of games developed on CRYENGINE  no doubt this is a rich source of material for developers.


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Unity, which physically dominated the entrance to the Expo announced its release of Unity 5.3.4 and 5.4 public beta. It’s response to the AR/VR phenomenon has been extensive and year-long. As part of the show they announced support for Nvidia’s VR Works. VR Works includes API’s, sample code, and libraries for VR developers that speed up and improve device integration and graphic rendering.  In addition, they have made manipulating VR scenes even easier with a “Chessboard” system that puts a miniature version of the VR scene into the larger screen, making the scene easier to manipulate as a whole. Like Crytek, Unity has a “Made for Unity” asset store where developers can download free assets to enhance their game.


The monthly user base for Unity is huge (over 1M) and adding significant new features while maintaining stability is not trivial. At the show they emphasized the many accomplishments of the past year, including adding AR/VR plugin optimization. As far as connectivity goes, they announced that Unity Multi-Player is out of beta and available. This new offering allows developers to create multiplayer games using Unity’s servers, makes it easy for gamers to connect with each other, and is extremely scalable.


Unity’s economic model is based on a monthly charge of $75 for the “Professional” version of its engine, plus a charge for using its servers for concurrent game players. The concurrent player charge scales up depending on how many gamers there are how much messaging is taking place. Unity has a global infrastructure of servers in the US, Europe, and Asia that support its multi-player games.


                                                                                                                                       Picture Source

Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine was the newcomer to the party and they too showed up with a game engine they are giving away for free. Lumberyard is described as  a “free, cross-platform, 3D game engine for you to create the highest-quality games, connect your games to the vast compute and storage of the AWS Cloud, and engage fans on Twitch.” Many game developers and publishers are already familiar with Amazon’s infrastructure offerings, including its storage, S3, and compute instances, EC2. Providing an engine that links seamlessly to this infrastructure (and generates revenue while doing so) is another way to tie developers in so they will stay. Lumberyard also provides two solutions for connecting with players: ChatPlay and JoinIn. ChatPlay allows Twitch viewers to directly influence and comment on game play, and “JoinIn” provides one- click ability to have a gamer play against a broadcaster.


The revenue model for Lumberyard seems to be aimed at building usage of Amazon’s prodigious infrastructure, as well as the user-base for Twitch.  The engine is free, but developers pay for their use of servers, storage, and other infrastructure.


In their race to be the platform of choice, each engine has had to decide where it will optimize the developer’s experience. And for mature engines, the challenge to keep innovating while serving a huge installed base is tremendous. Putting themselves at the center of the GDC floor showed all four of these companies know what is at stake as a whole new era of opportunity hits the gaming world.

One of the largest Esports events in the world just took place this weekend - the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) World Championships in Katowice, Poland.  IEM Katowice featured three games - CounterStrike, League of Legends, and Starcraft II.  Qualifying tournaments have been running all over the world for the Finals in Katowice, and each game’s championship match offered € 500,000. And lots of people were watching the action—live and online. In fact, online viewership for this 3-part tournament likely exceeded last year’s 2.3 million peak concurrent viewers and 4 million Youtube views.



What a lot of people don’t know, though, is what goes on behind the scenes of these events. From player preparation to live-stream logistics, there’s a ton of activities happening. In a recent webinar (full disclosure: Limelight Networks hosted the webinar) with Fnatic’s CEO Wouter Sleijffle, we took attendees behind the scenes to look at how professional sports agencies, like Fnatic, prepare their teams for this intense competition and what’s required to host a world-class live streaming event. Here are a few highlights:

  • Player preparation happens on multiple levels. Players have to be prepared physically and mentally to hold up to the hours of intense live action on stage. Wouter shared that part of this preparation is being able to rely on teammates, and spending time together away from the game, even occasionally living together in training venues as a way to build trust and connection between teammates.
  • Developers have a role to play in preparation. Wouter had some advice for game developers—create training tools that let coaches and analysts improve game play.  Don’t hold back exciting game play for the top levels - make all levels exciting.
  • It’s not all about just playing the game. Are you a couch potato convinced hours of game playing will make you the best?  Not so, it appears. Fnatic puts a surprising amount of work into the physical fitness of their players, including healthy eating and sleeping habits. It’s all designed to keep the mind as sharp as possible.  And flexible too.
  • The competition is never over. Think that a professional gamer’s work is done after the event? Not according to Wouter who feels that data analytics (post-match analysis) plays a crucial role in future success. In fact, Fnatic now employs not one but two analysts to dig into game play data, competitors and match data.


Does all this preparation work?  Turns out it does - really well.  The results from Katowice are in:




Limelight and Cedexis were both on hand during the webinar to explain how live event gets transmitted to millions of fans around the world who are watching from their PC’s, phones and tablets. Delivering broadcast quality coverage to this audience, especially when they are watching from all around the globe, on hundreds of different devices, is a huge challenge.  Luckily many of these challenges have solutions that have been tested and proven successful by other industries that deliver live events:

  • Planning is key. Preparing for a live event actually requires careful planning and an experienced team. For an online audience to receive broadcast quality requires that a broadcaster’s entire workflow, from the stage cameras to the encoding and transcoding to the content delivery, is architected to eliminate latency and handle sudden spikes in viewership.
  • The public Internet is not the right solution. If you want to create a high quality experience for your audience relying on the public internet is a poor choice.   Some of the  the reasons for this are that Esports audiences are truly global and  the size of these audiences can be large and unpredictable.  Congestion from other events on the public internet can interfere with a smooth broadcast, or ruin the quality of a broadcast for an entire region.
  • Build in redundancy. By choosing between 2 or more CDN’s for your broadcast, you ensure capacity for every log-on. Two or more CDN’s also allows traffic optimization between the CDN’s for each CDN investment you get the most out of that investment.

For more on how to satisfy Esports live event viewers, and how the pro’s prepare for these amazing contests, you can listen to the whole webinar  here.



Photos Courtesy of Edwin Kuss, March 2016.

Though it's early in the year, there are already 11 events on the docket for 2016 that promise large viewing audiences and huge prize pools.  The guerrilla among viewing events of course is Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) which is working with ESL to put on the IEM finals in Katowice, Poland in March. Featuring three extremely popular games from three distinct publishers, League of Legends, Starcraft II, and CounterStrike, this three-day tournament attracts a huge crowd and creates tremendous cross-mingling of Esports enthusiasts from different game camps. Not only did 100,000 people attend the live event all three days, but the League of Legends World Championship portion garnered over 35 million online views on Twitch and over 4M video watches on Youtube.


For prize pools, the current leader is Activision's Call of Duty World Championship which has already promised a $3M prize pool for its year long tournament ending in the fall. However a newcomer, Turner Broadcasting has grabbed second place as of today with its promise of $2.4M for ELeague.  ELeague will feature live TV play of  CounterStrike "Eleague"  for 2, 10-week periods this summer.


Tournament schedules can be complicated but it's for good reason.  Esports is seeing aggressive growth at both the amateur and professional levels. A look at the schedules shows publishers and organizers working hard to bring these two competitive streams together.  Most schedules feature lengthy amateur qualifying periods, second chances, and selective merging of professional and amateur competition.  The result?  An extended build up of tension and uncertainty around the final line up that makes for great finales, and hopefully well-earned prizes.


So here's what's on the calendar, and the prize pools that have been announced to get you in the game:






Dates; City

Prize Pool

World of Tanks

Wargaming North America Finals


Wargaming, Intel

April 8,9; Warsaw



Winter Series Live Championships



March 18; March 25; Online



World Championship Finals



March 19,20


LoL;   Starcraft II; CS:GO

Intel Extreme Masters

Riot; Blizzard; Valve

ESL, Intel

March 4-6; Katowice


Dota 2




April 23; Manila



ELeague (CS: GO)


Turner, IMG, WME

May 27 (10 weeks); Summer (10weeks)


Dota 2




June 18; Frankfurt






July 8; Cologne



Interactive World Cup


EA Sports FIFA

Summer, 2016



World Championship



Fall 2016; TBA



World Championship



Fall 2016; Blizzcon



And we can expect pretty high viewer numbers for these tournaments as well. Last year online tournament watching repeatedly broke its  own records.  For example, the ESL One CounterStrike tournament last year attracted a record 27 million online viewers online. ( Compare this with the recent USA Super Bowl which broke its own record this year with 3.6 million people watching it online).   2016 is likely to bring new records, even as the sport gets crowded with new tournaments.


So turn off the TV and power up your laptop/tablet/mobile phone for these major online events.  And if we've missed one that should be on here, let us know. Additionally, to learn more about what it takes to produce a major sporting event online, see Jason Thibault’s excellent blog:  Super Bowl 2016: What Might We Expect from the Technology?

The global audience for Esports is on track to rival the size of the American football audience by 2017. Dedicated American-style football fans number about 151 M, and the equally dedicated Esports audience is projected to reach 145 M[1] by 2017.  Though impressive on a global scale, to date North American audience size has lagged behind Asia’s Esports audience size at just under 15 M while Asian audiences have reached three times that size (49 M as of 2014) [2] .

2014 and 2015, however, saw major North American publishers and broadcasters make definitive moves to committing to the success of Esports. In December, Electronic Arts announced it was forming a Competitive Gaming Division and putting its longtime FIFA Interactive advocate, Peter Moore, in charge.  Not only did it recommit to its current competitive leagues, but it promised to develop new events “as well as the infrastructure” in order to deliver a “best in class program”.   With this announcement one of the largest, most profitable North American game publishers not only recognized the brand development potential of Esports, but moved to consolidate its franchise.

EAEsports.jpg                              CODWL.jpg                     http://

Not to be outdone, Activision announced early in 2016 that it had bought Major League Gaming (MLG), and that MLG’s senior leaders would come aboard with the acquisition.  In doing so it acquired significant tournament production and promotion capabilities with strong North American market presence.  The new venture is goaled on being the “ESPN” of Esports, meaning it will work with all games, not just Activision’s.  In fact, Valve’s CounterStrike game has been steadily building Esports audiences, and in 2016 will be the centerpiece of a tournament produced in North America with MLG.  The final will play to a live audience at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus OH. Earlier in 2015 Activision announced its Call of Duty World League - a self-contained competitive structure designed to take regular players all the way up to national competitions.  With skilled production and promotion, this incredibly popular game could fuel a sizeable Esports audience.


Equally significant for 2016 is the new arrival of two broadcast networks to Esports.  In the fall of 2015, Turner Broadcasting Studio announced it would broadcast 20 weeks of Esports competition in 2016, featuring above-named Valve CounterStrike competitions.  While it’s not clear yet when during the  summer TBS will broadcast, the timing may allow for it to overlap with major Esporting events going on Europe and North America.




And… just as 2015 came to a close, ESPN made its announcement it was setting up a separate vertical to handle Esports.  Now the website features experienced industry writers who provide full coverage of Esports teams and industry developments all over the world.  In a silent nod to the newness of Esports for American audiences, the site provides expert summaries of the of the leading games involved in Esports.


There are also indications that the business model will begin to evolve beyond free and public platforms like Twitch and Youtube.  Ashttp://http// Kotick, CEO of Activision commented about the purchase of MLG,


We think user-generated-content networks are great and widely available,” he said. “This is really focused on premium content.”


Under a premium content model, the audience experience and viewer loyalty will take on greater importance.  It’s clear that North America will be treated to a whole new wave of Esports and brand-building events that could greatly increase the Esports audience.


[1] The Global Growth of Esports. Research Report. 1.0st ed. Vol. 1.0. Amsterdam: Newzoo, 2015. Print. Esports.

[2] ibid.

Here we go.  The master calendar for games that will be available this holiday season has finally sorted itself out.  What’s in and what’s out for 2015 is finally clear, the first of an A+ list of releases is already here.  This is a big season for game downloading, and gamers are getting their first real data about how big these games will actually be.  While non-gamers may be teeing up “It’s a Wonderful Life”, gamers will be expecting their 10, 20, 30, and 50 GB game to download flawlessly.


So how much downloading is actually going to take place?  A rough guess is fairly easy to make - take the game size, multiply by sales, and apply the percentage of digital distribution that the publisher is expected to reach. For example, if Electronic Arts sells 1M copies of Need for Speed, releasing November 3, we know approximately 52% of these games, or 520000 copies will be digital (EA now earns 52% of its revenues through digital distribution, according to its financials).  Multiply this by the size of the game, and we get a rough estimate of the download traffic from this one game.


Since this promises to be a very active release season, I’ve decided to create a game download tracker which I’ll update with reliable data as it’s released.  First off - here’s the schedule and size of some major games coming out in the remainder of 2015:



   Holiday Game Download Tracker






Initial Sales

Retail Price

  1. Est. Unit Sales

Total GB's


Exabytes of Download Traffic


Halo 5







60% Est


Electronic Arts

Need for Speed









Activision/  Treyarch

Call of Duty: Black Ops III




















Rise of the Tomb Raider







60% Est


Electronic Arts

Starwars Battlefront










Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six









Square Enix/Avalanche

Just Cause 3










Starcraft II











By all accounts, Halo 5 is off to a strong start, with some estimates being as high as 3M copies sold. I’ve taken the conservative route with a 1M estimate, but still - this is more than a quarter of an Exabyte in download traffic alone. Digital downloading relies on the speed and capacity of the world’s content delivery networks to fuel its growing dominance as a game distribution model. 


Follow this blog over the next 8 weeks as we follow the real demands this is placing on worldwide network traffic.

November 4 Update: Microsoft announces sales of $400M for Halo 5 in the first week!  We've updated the calculator to show download traffic from this one game!

November 12 Update: Activision announces sales of $550M for Call of Duty, Black Ops III in its first weekend!!!  The race for blockbuster king is officially on. And what about the traffic impact?  Activision's official press release indicated digital downloads were up 100% from last year's percentage for COD.  Conservative industry estimates for last year's release were 15% digital, so we can confidently estimate this year 30% of COD's downloads will be digital.

November 18 Update: Wow - Not to be outdone, Bethesda Game Studios announced today it sold $750M worth of Fallout4 in its first 3 days.  This astounding figure is a function of year-long build-up and pre-orders for this popular game.  Super Data Research CEO, Joost Van Dreunen @_SuperData estimates digital sales at approximately 1.84M, or 14% of our estimated 12M copies sold.  Oh - regarding the headline for this blog- an astute reader commented on the use of "Torrent" and how it evokes piracy, so we changed it.  We're measuring legit downloads only!

November 24 Update: No word from EA yet on initial sales of Star Wars Battlefront.  Since the game will be releasing some DLC very soon (next week),perhaps EA is waiting for the total picture to develop.  It will certainly be hard for Battlefront to top Fallout4 which built up almost a year's worth of pre-orders, but being one of the millions of Star Wars fans myself, I'm rooting for SW all the way.  Same with Microsoft's TombRaider - a beautiful game that was previewed at E3.  The scenery is magnificent, and they've added new models of play that allow for more stealth and less direct combat (read 'violence") in this version.

December 3 Update:  Microsoft shares that 330,000 copies of Tomb Raider sold in its first week, which at 60% estimated digital distribution brings the the total game downloads closer to a third of an Exabyte!  Game director Brian Horton is happy with the game sales to date, even thought they may have been impacted by the launch of Fallout4 the same week.  Still no word on Star Wars downloads!!!

December 10 Update: Star Wars Battlefront executives are staying firm about projections of 10-13M units by March 31st.  Conservatively - this means the launch is 15.7% through its first sales period, hence our estimate of 1.5+M units sold.  At 52% digital, and using the smaller game size required for XBox One, this amounts to .015 exabyte of traffic just for this blockbuster alone.  Official sales figures for the game have not been released yet, and pricing is mixed with not all vendors following Game Stop's lead in reducing the price to $40.   Need for Speed has no plans to charge for DLC in its "always online" game released November 3rd and it will be interesting to see if this encourages game sales.  Rainbow 6 and Just Cause 3 are garnering many more positive reviews  than negative, but there are indications that Call of Duty and Star Wars may be outpacing them in holiday sales.

December 21 Update:  It's official - we've reached a third of an Exabyte.  Here's how we got to this point:  According to SteamSpy, at least 2.4M or 18% of estimated Fallout4 sales have been sold digitally for PC's, bumping download traffic for this title up 4% over previous estimates.  Forbes Magazine quotes VGChartz estimates for BlackOps III which show cumulative sales at week four hitting 12 million - 1 million higher than our estimate last week, again meaning download traffic has been significant for this title.  No update on Tomb Raider this week, but industry pundits continue to believe that its release day overlap with Fallout4 did not help sales.  We are now 5 weeks into the Star Wars Battlefront launch, with EA estimating (conservatively) that the game will sell 10M copies in 19 weeks, i.e. end of March.  So at 26% of the way, we can conservatively estimate sales have topped 2.5 million and download traffic from this game is fast and heavy.  Still no OFFICIAL word on Rainbow 6, but game is not only continuing to collect excellent reviews, but likely boosted sales this past weekend with a free referral version for Rainbow 6 Siege.


December 28 Update: It looks like download volume was heavy and so were complaints when Electronic Arts was likely hit by a DDoS attack on Christmas eve, according to VentureBeat. This brought Star Wars downloading to  a halt for a while.  So rather than assume a Christmas bump, we added another prorated week to the expected sales for Star Wars.  Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six for PS4 and PC also experienced difficulty and required patches. Coming this week the long awaited StarCraft II release.  Also, Steam announces that Tomb Raider's PC version will be available in January which will certainly bump our download chart.

Stay tuned for an early January update where we survey publishers official figures on holiday downloads!


January 8 Update: Just Cause 3, released in early December, according to one source has reached 1.55 million units, but nothing official yet from Square Enix.  Starcraft II Legends of the Void sold 1 M units in its first 24 hours, meaning that its co-launch date with blockbuster Fallout4 did little or no damage to this resilient favorite. Another week of Star Wars sales brings us to almost 40% of an Exabyte.  But that’s not all - both Just Cause 3 and Rainbow 6 have issued important patches - meaning even more downloading was needed to get the best performance out of those games.  Big story for another blog - both Sony and EA attacked by DDoS attacks during the holiday week and both attacks likely came from Phantom Squad imitating Lizard Squad’s attacks on Xbox One and PSN last year at the same time.  But both sites were back online after only a few hours. Take that Phantom - the downloads continue - go DDoS Protection Squad!!


Final Update February 1:
For this final chart we first updated Star Wars, using a weekly prorated amount based EA's claims that sales have been on track for 10M by March.  Fallout4 continues to be a juggernaut.  After initial sales of $750M, or approximately 12 million, the game went on to sell over 2.5M copies on Steam alone.  Special thanks to SteamSpy who provided this estimate in their annual summary charts.  Activision's Call  of Duty, Black Ops III had a strong PC release, and we added SteamSpy's estimated sales of more than 700000 copies for the PC to this title's estimate also.  As if to confirm this year's crossover from mostly physical to mostly digital, SuperData research just announced worldwide sales of digitally downloaded games topped $61B in 2015 with Activision, Tencent, and Supercell the dominant sellers of digitally downloaded games.  Sadly we've come across no credible reports regarding Need for Speed sales, digital or otherwise so this entry remains blank.  Admittedly, the Microsoft 60% digital estimate is aggressive, and there has been industry controversy regarding the proportion of digital to  in-store sales.  Overall, however, we're confident that digital downloading for these games during the 2015 Holidays totaled more than 40% of an Exabyte-an epic amount of traffic.


The next big month in downloads?  It looks to be April of 2016 following the release of many games announced last year at E3, but delayed until the early months of 2016.  Questions?  Comments? Challenges? Happy to hear from readers any time .  Meanwhile - Game on!

Total:  .41416103 Exabytes

So you and your company have decided to build your own video publishing platform. You’re deep into designing and building games, and suddenly you become convinced you can connect with your users better through video; extend your brand with a more proactive video strategy. And what’s even better than that? You know that your users love to create and share videos of their exploits, so you’ll also have a ready source of content.

Limelight’s research into online video The State Of Online Video and the experience of one of the top extreme sports sites, EpicTV, together provide some quick tips for building your platform and successfully leveraging video to engage with your users:

  • Keep the bulk of your content short. Limelight’s research shows that Millennials in Limelight’s research average less than 40 seconds per video, unless they fall into the 35% or so who consistently put up with ads and multiple re-buffering in order to watch their videos all the way through.


  • Aim for repeat viewing. Your most avid video consumers watch 4-7 hours of video a week, with 30% watching over 7 hours. Plan on refreshing your site multiple times during the week, and help viewers find content similar to what they’ve watched already. 
  • Make ads skippable and personalized. Your ad campaigns need to be as tailored as your video content. Deliver ads that have meaning to your users. If you don’t personalize the ad experience, you are sending the wrong signal to your viewers about having the same interests and passions as they do.
  • Pay attention to titles. EpicTV puts extensive effort into titling new videos and then promoting them on social media. “When we decide to publish a video the first thing we do is sit down and knock out 20 different titles then pick the best couple based on the sport, the intended audience, and the timing of the release.”   Q&A With EpicTV
  • Offer something exclusive. Invest in content that is available nowhere else. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as inviting an expert commentator to talk about what he/she does with your game, or a user testimonial showing a real life application. Better yet, invest in series of videos covering “snackable” topics related to your game or product.
  • Share the wealth. Obviously you’re inviting users and fans to share their videos on your site, but how about offering prizes for best video in a certain category, or for best demonstration of a particular feature? Rewarding your video-creating fans is a great way to keep them engaged. If you have built a platform that grows in popularity, you can “share the wealth” by embedding videos people have posted elsewhere related to your area.
  • Cross promote on social media. Promote your followers’ cool stuff! You may even need more than one Facebook page. In fact, EpicTV’s Ted Endo comments, “We are spread across so many sports that we realized we couldn’t do each community justice unless we created a separate Facebook page to cater to the interests of each community.”
  • Plan for a quality viewing experience, regardless of platform. Multi device viewing is common now. 41% of online video viewers in the study expect videos to play as well on their phone as on a desktop device, so don’t allow for any major quality degradation between PC and phone viewing.

Building a video sharing platform is not easy, even if you are just doing it as a brand extension for your existing product line--but with the right broadcast infrastructure it can be easier than you think and can be an extremely valuable part of your customer engagement strategy. See also:   Four Ways to Succeed in Online Video  and Limelight Solution for Media & Broadcasters .


"The State of Online Video." (2015): 1-20. Limelight Networks. Limelight Networks, Inc., 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 Sept. 2015

"Q&A with EpicTV's Digital Content Manager, Ted Endo. EpicTV, 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.



Recently four gaming industry leaders gathered in San Francisco to talk about a major trend in gaming: gamers producing and watching each other’s game videos, and the impact it’s having on their business strategies.  The panel was hosted by Newzoo CEO, Peter Warman, and inspired by Newzoo’s whitepaper:  Consumer as Producer: How Games and Video Converge to Drive Growth  sponsored by Limelight Networks.


Watching the 54 minute panel which featured a lively discussion, I gleaned some possible answers to challenges we posed in the initial Consumer as Producer blog.


1) How do you get the cooperation of creative consumers in building your game brand?

2) How do you share and protect your IP at the same time?

3) What is the role of the emerging “game audience” - viewers who love game videos and aren’t necessarily playing or buying the game?


The panelists included a game developer COO, an Esports team CEO,  the COO of Twitch, and CEO of Game Theorists, a video subscription channel on Youtube with over 5 million subscribers.


COO Kristian Segerstrale describes SuperEvil MegaCorp as a game developer, that embraces all three challenges. Videos and viewership are so important that it tracks total viewers on Twitch and Youtube as a company metric.  (The number has grown from .5M to 1.5M in less than a year).  The company actively promotes player stars on Youtube, and just embarked on its first Esports tournament for VainGlory, not worrying about the fact the prize is only $30K.  Even more revolutionary - the reality of video watching is helping to drive the design of their game.  The company wants ipad-playable VainGlory to be understandable for casual viewers after just a few minutes of watching, like basketball.  On the IP front, what happens when avid fans “borrow” game art to create a cool t-shirt or video?  You might think a team of lawyers would be dispatched, but instead engineers don them proudly and share pictures wearing them. 


Wouter Sleijffers is CEO of Fnatic, one of the world’s top professional gaming teams notes that video is a major means of communicating with their fans, and building the team brand.  In fact, the team encourages the fans to create and build out the brand by making their own videos. Sleijffers  commented “there is an amazing amount of demand out there for game play footage”.


So who’s watching all this besides avid game players?


Both Game Theorist, a subscription-based Youtube video company owned by Matthew Patrick, and Twitch, represented by co-founder Kevin Lin, weighed in about the reality of the “game viewing” audience which now lurks just beyond the realm of marketers, watching but not buying games.  Patrick says it’s real, and points out some games have had viewing audiences that are 3-4 times larger than their player base. Matthew’s company, Game Theorist, now has 5 million followers and 113 videos on itsYoutube channel.   He explains video is helping enable the development of lifestyle brands built on game environments and characters.  Building a brand around a game used to take 30 years - now it takes a matter of months. For Twitch also, watchers are now seen as part of the game, not just the players.


The existence of a larger game viewing audience opens up all kinds of growth opportunities for the industry.  It could lead to a range of monetization strategies employed by other forms of entertainment, from syndicated content to merchandise.  But profiting from it it will depend on how willing the game industry is to nurture this whole new one-to-many relationship, and perhaps, create new content just for this audience.


So listening to these industry leaders, I’m going to offer some possible answers:

1) How do you get the cooperation of creative consumers in building your game brand? Possible answer: treat them fairly and the rest will sort itself out.

2) How do you share and protect your IP at the same time? Possible answer: you don’t always do both.

3) What is the role of the emerging “game audience” - viewers who love game videos and aren’t necessarily playing or buying the game?  Possible answer:  first you have to recognize its there and decide what you want to create for it.  And you might consider making your game easy to understand for casual viewers a part of your strategy.


What do you think? Are you an industry watcher or game publisher looking at how to incorporate the gamer video phenomenon into your strategy?  We’d love to hear from you here at Limelight.  Meanwhile, to all you gamers out there, we hope you capture your next epic moment in video and


Stream On!


To watch the whole discussion, check out Casual Connect’s channel on Youtube.


Last year, Amazon put a stake in the ground with its purchase of Twitch for $970 million. This put an eye-popping value on gamer video sharing, and highlighted a trend that many dedicated gaming fans already knew: video creation and sharing is an increasingly important part of how gamers enjoy their game.


A year later, two more stakes have been placed in the ground. In this blog we talk about one of them - the trend of consumers producing their own gaming videos.  This trend is examined in great detail in a recently released report from Newzoo, The Consumer as Producer: How Games and Video Converge to Drive Growth, which was sponsored by Limelight Networks. Newzoo projects revenues of $113 billion for the gaming market by 2018.  Will this number grow even bigger as a function of gamer videos? That’s not clear yet, but industry players are starting to figure out how to get in on the action.


The whitepaper leaves no doubt that the phenomenon is big. Here are some examples from the data: Minecraft-based videos alone garnered 4.1 Billion (yes, billion) views in one month while League of Legends fans watched 81 million hours of game play videos on Twitch in May alone.


What’s also discussed is that multiple monetization strategies are in play.  With Twitch and YouTube providing free sharing services for gamers, game publishers; new platform providers such as Azubu and Kamcord are looking for creative ways to create revenue streams.  Esports events are particularly attractive given their ability to concentrate talent, money and time, while also controlling access to content. They offer a clearer path to monetization than many other strategies which is why the paper devotes a whole page to the topic of Esports and video.


Like a lot of cool things in gaming, this trend started with gamers themselves, and they are still at the heart of the action.  Limelight’s own research showed 22% of gamers post videos of themselves and 36% watch a second screen, usually featuring other gamers playing, while they game.   See: Consumer Gaming Trends, 2014


Players are learning how to become personalities, opinion leaders and franchises unto themselves. As the co-founder of Twitch pointed out during a panel discussion on the whitepaper (see my blog on industry reaction to the paper) “We’re helping gamers become entertainers”.


From a business strategy perspective, the most important things this trend tees up for the gaming industry are:


1) Brand efforts to benefit from all this creativity will have to be undertaken with the cooperation of the consumer.  What are the best practices for building this cooperation, and what are the technology requirements behind those practices?


2) What new approaches to owning, licensing, and sharing game creative content will provide the most productive relationships with consumers?  How can technology help game content creators protect and share their creativity at the same time?


3) What is the nature of the now discovered “game audience” - a growing set of viewers who don’t play or buy a game, but nevertheless enjoy game videos. And what role will this group play in the monetization of this trend?


Read our second blog on this topic to explore these questions further, and see industry reaction to the whitepaper.    Meanwhile, what’s the 2nd stake in the ground? Last week, Youtube went live with Youtube Gaming - a new dedicated platform for sharing all videos gaming. How the new platform really differs from its predecessor remains to be explored, but it is a direct assault on the enviable position Twitch has carved out for itself.


So consumers are becoming producers, and as a leader in providing video streaming services, Limelight is proud to be an enabler of this trend - with flexible and scalable solutions to help our gaming customers address this development right here, right now.


For a free download of the Newzoo whitepaper just click here:

Consumer as Producer: How Games and Video Converge to Drive Growth


Stream On!



Yesterday was Day 3, the final Day of E3, and Limelighters set out once again to explore a major theme of the show - the mixing of reality and game play in increasingly creative ways. We stood in line for a preview of the new Warner Bros. Lego Dimensions which combines digital and Lego reality in one playset.  Add or subtract cool prescribed pieces (which you can build yourself) and  they suddenly appear or disappear in your game. Lego lovers are going to enjoy this for sure.  There’s lots more but unfortunately we can’t tell you about it, lest Lego Batman and his pals find us before September when the game and its many expansion packs are released.


We lingered at the enormous Square Enix booth where huge footage of Kingdom Hearts III was playing. Though it won’t be released for some time, the game is already drawing praise for its look and feel.


At the spacious Disney booth the lines were long to win a figurine from the newly announced Disney Infinity 3.0 Star Wars play sets coming this fall.

Activision had a huge presence at the show, as did sister company Blizzard, each with separate booths. Activision’s was anchored in one corner by Guitar Hero, where despite the early hour, real and even zombie  guitarists were belting out hits.


Bandai Namco had extensive lines to try out all the new ways of fighting that will be incorporated into its new releases, including Dark Souls III which it announced for  September availability.  The studio also announced SuperNova which will blend the best elements of a MOBA and strategy game.  Players will have access to a wide variety of deadly technology but will have to use their own wits to know when to pull it in and how to configure their units.

We looped back to Sony and Microsoft’s section of the show both of which remained busy into the afternoon. Sony previewed three upcoming games in an innovative three-part theater where we were warned shark bombs would be dropped on us if we filmed anything.  We previewed: Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. The hype around Last Guardian and its amazing artwork is well deserved, and the imagination that went into creating this creature, the boy and their world are breathtaking.  It was great to see a woman at the center of the action in Zero Dawn whose plot offers allusions to global warming apocalypse and Terminator. Thief’s End offered cool action end-to-end, and it’s hard not to admire the total freedom the characters enjoy - except from their greed, of course.  Our only regret was we didn’t get to see more of HALO at the Microsoft booth ( which I promised in yesterday’s blog) but fans had a lock on that until deep into the afternoon.


After brief visits to Wargaming, Crytek, Telltale, Tencent, and Deep Silver meeting areas it was finally time to go home.  The hundreds of game announcements at E3 reinforced some trends for our team. One - cross platform game releases are here to stay.  Virtually every new release was described as coming out on console and pc simultaneously (with mobile not far behind in many cases). Two -mixing reality action and game play creates a level of exciting unpredictability that is transforming gaming. Three- both gamers and publishers alike are investing in games with continuous play potential, and the need for easy, digital access to new content throughout a game’s lifecycle is only going to grow.


All in all we left feeling proud that Limelight is a reliable partner to such a creative and dynamic industry.


Elsewhere on Limelight Connect:  See our video footage from: Square Enix, Disney Booth, EA, and Konami!


Limelight Team Goes to E3

Posted by ablanchard Jun 17, 2015



Limelight representatives from LA and Boston were at E3 today - the second day of the Entertainment Software Association's biggest trade show for the gaming community.  So many of our customers are here - it was exciting to see what they and major industry publishers have in the pipeline for release this fall.   I waited an hour and a half in line to see 505 Games' virtual reality demo of their new game Adrift using Occulus VR and it was totally worth it!   Adrift is a first person interactive game featuring you - an astronaut who has been through trauma and  has no memory of what happened - floating through the ruins of your spaceship.  With virtual reality in effect you can maneuver through the ship picking up essentials like extra oxygen bottles while you figure out what happened - and how to save yourself.  The best part was leaving the ship to "spacewalk" thousands of miles above LA. This is definitely the closest I'll come to the real thing, and it was pretty satisfying.


What happens when real life and game life merge?  Well I had a chance to find out when real life zombies somehow produced ID to get into the show.  I couldn't get them to stay and listen to how Limelight helps game publishers deliver games and video, but luckily my destiny wasn't death by zombies, but rather to meet up with some protective but silent characters from Sony's best selling game.  Sony has a tremendous presence at the show.  It's action adventure release The Last Guardian features fabulous graphics and shows the cooperative efforts of a boy and his gryphon-like companion as they go through one trial after another.


Providing evidence that cross-platform gaming has come into its own, Microsoft announced that mods created on the PC can be transferred, played and shared on Xbox One.  It's huge presence at the show also introduced new content for HALO 5.  More on this in tomorrow's blog.  The line for Microsoft's demos was so long I would still be there with the zombies if I tried to get in today.  For those of us who like gorgeous cars, the car in Forza 6 announced by Microsoft for a September release is just that - gorgeous.  Best of all, the lifelike driving in the game is pretty close to the real thing.


As a long time fan of Tom Clancy, I was thrilled to see Ubisoft's new game: Tom Clancy's The Division.  The preview features amazing team play -  and absolutely stunning graphics.  Bring your trusted friends and quick reaction time to this game when it comes out in early 2016!


Limelight customer Nintendo wasn't alone in live streaming direct from the floor. Nintendo showed off a whole new slate of Wii U games including Legend of Zelda: Tri-force heroes, as well as lots of new content for Super Smash Bros. Live streaming of the show was taking place everywhere, and more than one Limelight employee has spent the last two days with an open window on their desktop keeping tabs on the shows' latest developments.  If you want to know more about how Limelight keeps all 22 of Nintendo Europe's websites streaming video day and night, just search Nintendo on Limelight's website.


Gamespot did a piece on where to find ESports at the show (hint: their games have a lot of tanks in them).  Check out Anna Prosser Robinson's report at http://

I also had a chance to visit Razer, whose super cool hardware helps make Esports so exciting and easy to watch.


As one of the top digital distribution partners for gaming, it's great to see so many terrific new games lined up for release later this year.  Clearly we'll be busy this fall!


More from the floor tomorrow!

Anne B.

This week Limelight co-hosted a webinar with leading game market research firm - Newzoo International and we got a sneak peak at their latest projections for 2017 revenues in the PC/MMO market.  Needless to say, this market is growing at a fast clip, with over 90% of that growth coming from Asia.  Newzoo’s full report will be out June 8, 2015 and should have some really good data for those of you who follow this space.  All this growth has tremendous implications for publishers’ infrastructure.  PC games are hitting 30, 40, 50 GB sizes and the market’s almost at 100% digital distribution.  So with games getting larger, and more gamers downloading them digitally to their PC’s the pressure is on publishers to prevent downloading from becoming a real headache for game lovers.


This is where have a media content delivery partner like Limelight comes in.  Our infrastructure solutions, and extensive consulting and technical experience with game launches can help PC game developers with a successful launch, regardless of how large and feature-rich their game is.  Perhaps a publisher is just releasing an expansion to an existing game, or entering the monetization phase of a game with multiple DLC releases.  Careful planning, scalable solutions, and global reach can help even the small to midsize publishers reach their distribution goals - and - gamer satisfaction goals.


For solutions to some of the game distribution problems that PC and MMO publishers face,  I invite you to tune into the webinar at:

World Zombination - 13,116

True Skate - 1,645,078

My Talking Tom - 17,171,583*


That’s right - casual gamers have made over 17 million videos of themselves playing My Talking Tom and posted them on  How do I know?  Because I have the popular app loaded on my phone, of course, where I can watch videos, share videos, and yes, download the game itself while I’m watching the video. Tencent-backed Kamcord and Amazon-owned Twitch are examples of the fast growing business of online gaming communities. To be in the gaming business today means understanding the video sharing and live-action viewing of games is becoming as important as the play side. 


So what does all this have to do with Limelight’s Orchestrate 3.0?  In 2014 Limelight introduced its Multi-Device Media Delivery (MMD) for video on demand - enabling companies to send broadcast quality video to any device including tablets and phones.  Now in 2015, Orchestrate 3.0 introduces live streaming to any device, anywhere.  So you can tune into an e-sports tournament and watch the action live on your phone, delivered to your phone service provider by one of the world’s fastest content delivery networks.  Equally important, Orchestrate 3.0 Storage solutions make storing and delivering all those videos (Kamcord claims over 2Billion have been posted so far on their site) faster, and more economical.  With Orchestrate’s object-based Storage, huge quantities of meta-data about your video get stored with it, making it easier and faster to manage a global workflow. 


Gaming companies that are investing in their video delivery infrastructure can click on and learn how their video quality of experience can continue to scale, no matter how many millions of  videos their gamers share.


*Videos on as of 3/27/15

Even 5 years ago it would have been impossible to predict the explosion of digital content around gaming.  Nor was it obvious that the industry would embrace gamer involvement not just in creating new game assets, but in directing entire game story lines!  And perhaps an even bigger surprise - entire secondary audiences of people who like to watch gaming would embrace video watching of games without necessarily being gamers themselves.


All of which points to a mega trend in gaming - the convergence of video entertainment and game play.  For publishers this convergence is demanding new, more powerful capabilities in cross-platform digital content delivery.  Limelight Orchestrate's release 3.0 steps up to the challenge by providing a single, powerful platform for building and managing the end to end workflows, processes, and activities that organizations need to ensure that their digital experiences are fast, responsive, secure, and always available.


Just what’s in this new 3.0 platform that game publishers will like? Lots.  Here’s a quick snapshot of 4 key areas;

  • Network: Limelight’s network looks like a virtual map of the gaming world.  It now covers over 80 locations worldwide and includes the fastest growing gaming markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. So your games are delivered faster, farther over one reliable network.
  • Software: See my personal blog post: Game Over for Buggy Game Releases. Cool new cache management software rocks at getting rid of corrupted or buggy game files - virtually instantaneously, no matter how many copies are out there in cache.
  • Management: Orchestrate 3.0 makes interfacing with all the control software at Limelight, as well as uploading and managing thousands of game files, video files, and updates, so easy with a host of well-documented API’s. In gaming, the demands on your digital publishing platform are constantly changing. Orchestrate 3.0 provides the flexibility and ease of use required to adapt as your needs change.
  • Services: A storage solution that actually improves response time for video & media retrieval, but meets your need to upload and store content around the world is not just a promise - it's a reality in Orchestrate 3.0's Storage service.  Streaming video to multiple screen types with single format ingest is part of 3.0's updated and improved Video service.  Both services will significantly enhance publishers' ability to reach gamers with timely content on multiple screens. For more on both of these, watch for my upcoming post on Gaming as a Service.


So stay tuned - Orchestrate 3.0 delivers a great video and gaming experience experience for all your gamers!