Play2Live’s unique P2P CDN solution to the challenge of Internet speed for gamers

Jan 9, 2018

Play2Live’s streaming platform addresses the gamer’s challenge of slow internet, buffering delays and dropped connections. It combines its own technology with the resources of the G-Core CDN and a P2P network — and rewards users for being part of the solution.

Picture taken from http://vgrhq.com/quote-debate-i-think-some-gamers-are-ticking-time-bombs/

This picture was used in a tongue-in-cheek article about how gamers used to be viewed as nerds, but are now being viewed as angry and dangerous!

Perhaps there may be some justification for this warning when gamers are faced with drops in internet connection at critical stages of games, frustrating periods of buffering, and sloooow internet speeds!

Play2Live is a start-up with a solution for this. Perhaps, as a consequence, it’ll produce peaceful, happy gamers, with a better public reputation!

Jokes aside, Play2Live really has a P2P CDN solution that is both practical and profitable for gamers — and for Play2Live itself.

Before we show how we have gone beyond what others have done, let’s have a quick “dummies guide” to what the issues are.

#1: Dummies guide to internet speed

It is being estimated that up to 80% of internet activity is, or will, involve video, and we know that “video eats up the internet”! Modern-day gaming, and especially eSports, is a prime example of this. Not only is there a demand for high quality video, but there are also periods when hundreds of thousands of people want to be playing or watching at the same time. The success of this depends on internet speed.

Internet speed is a function of both bandwidth and latencyWhat do these terms mean?

Bandwidth is about how much data you can receive every second. This depends on how much “space” you have to let the data travel. Bandwidth is often compared to a highway. If you have 5 cars (or 5 packets of data) and only one lane, then the cars have to travel behind each other (or, the data must wait its turn to be transmitted). So, if the cars could cover the distance in 1 second, and there is only a single highway where the cars must travel behind each other, it would take 5 seconds for all 5 to complete the trip. If you had 5 lanes, however, and the cars could travel next to each other, all five would complete the distance in 1 second.

Bandwidth is also referred to as a “pipe”. The wider the pipe, the more data can pass through simultaneously. When your ISP promises you 25 Mbps — 25 megabits per second — this means that the width of your “pipe” will allow up to 25 megabits of data to reach you per second.

You are likely to have bandwidth problems when you are dealing with large amounts of data and there is extended duration. This might be because you are watching a video from Netflix or YouTube, or because there are very large files being downloaded or transferred, or if there is a constant stream of data — as you would have in a gaming scenario.

Latency is more directly about speed. It is about the time it takes (or the “delay”) for the 25 megabits to move through the pipe. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms), and is usually referred to as ping rate. You want low latency — that is, little delay. For normal internet usage, about 100ms would be reasonable. For gaming, you would want a ping rate of less than 50ms, and preferably less than 30ms.

Bandwidth and latency work together for you to experience “internet speed”. What you want is low latency (little delay) and high bandwidth (a wide pipe).

Latency is affected by various things. The type of internet connection you have matters. For example, a satellite connection tends to have a very high ping rate of up to 500ms, compared to a solid cable connection that can be 10 or 12ms. Distance is a big contributor to latency — the further you are away from the source of the data (eg your ISB hub) the longer it will take for data to reach your computer. Congestion happens when there is a lot of data to be sent to you, but your bandwidth (the “pipe”) is too narrow; or you are sharing the bandwidth with others (like other gamers) who are also asking for data, so your data has to wait its turn.

I think you can see why gamers may experience slow internet speed!

Gamers experience slow internet speed when there is not enough bandwidth and there are delays (latency) in data reaching them.

So, what’s the answer? What most content owners do is turn to CDN providers.

#2: Dummies guide to CDN

Content Delivery Network (CDN) providers help content owners get their content to their users. Simply put, CDN services make sure that browsers can quickly and easily download your web page and all the services you offer. They do this by setting up a network of servers and data centers in different geographic regions to get closer to users (remember, shorter distances = lower latency). They also make available very high bandwidths. So, a content owner (for example an online streaming platform or an e-commerce company) has access to this network, and can speed up his website. Having the increased bandwidth is especially important when yours is a popular website, and there may be many people wanting to access it at the same time.

Some of the bigger CDN’s include Akamai, Level 3, and Amazon CloudFront.

However, even the biggest CDN servers have limits, especially as audience size grows. Several CDNs may join together and pool their resources and their bandwidth when there is a big event like the Super Bowl with millions of users all wanting the video streaming at the same time. This “multi-CDN” offers increased geographic coverage, redundancy (spare capacity) and reliability, so that even if your CDN goes down, you won’t lose the link as others will pick up the slack.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) provide geographic reach and bandwidth so that content owners can get their content to their users.

This still depends on one of the CDN’s having a server (PoP) close enough to you. All traditional CDNs rely on the backbone of HTTP servers. And it depends on sufficient bandwidth. CDN’s work best for “longtail viewing” — i.e. thousands of videos being watched, but only a few viewers per video. When you have videos with heavy demand — i.e. hundreds or thousands of concurrent viewers — CDN is going to struggle.

And, of course, if you are the content owner, it is going to cost you a lot of money to make use of these services.

This is when a P2P CDN solution should be considered.

#3: Dummies guide to P2P CDN

Peer-to-peer (P2P) delivery of data depends on a completely different and decentralized architecture. It depends on viewers, not HTTP servers. In this model, viewers contribute their own spare capacity of bandwidth to a network. So, instead of using up all the bandwidth of the CDN server, viewers are creating more potential bandwidth. This means that the P2P network will perform best when there is highest and peak demand.

There is no single point of failure. Geographically, there is a PoP (point of presence) wherever there is a viewer. If individuals leave the network, others will continue to support those that remain. The more viewers join the network, the stronger it gets.

This does not mean that traditional CDN’s are not necessary. They just have a different — and much cheaper — role. Just one user from the P2P CDN requests data from the nearest CDN server, and then shares that data with all other users linked together. The P2P CDN network complements the traditional CDN, rather than replacing it.

In a P2P CDN network, users of the same content join together to pool their own resources and bandwidth. Only one user gets data from the traditional centralized CDN, and users then share content with each other.

#4: Dummies guide to video streaming and gaming

We need to understand how video streaming works. You are not downloading a single large video file — you are downloading small segments, each a few seconds long. Your video machine makes HTTP requests to fetch each segment. The requests are routed to the nearest “edge” server in the CDN and you get the segments. They go into a buffer or storage system, and are extracted as you need them and “stitched together” by your video player to give you a smooth version of your game.

If we understand about segments and the buffer system, we can see why there are problems with streaming via CDNs. In a situation where many people are watching or playing the same game, then everyone is trying to download the same underlying segments at the same time. This places enormous pressure on the server and “eats up” the bandwidth. The result is poor video quality, frustrating periods of buffering and dropped internet connections.

The question is why everyone is trying to fetch each segment from the same server, when it is possible to fetch them from other viewers?

A P2P network coordinates the users who are watching the same content to send video segments to each other. This leads to faster load times, less buffering and longer viewing sessions.

The different models are depicted as follows:

Picture taken from https://www.quora.com/Whats-difference-between-p2p-and-cdn

#5: How does Play2Live take a good solution and make it better?

Play2Live is the first decentralized streaming platform for streamers, gamers and eSports fans. It integrates blockchain functionality into a comprehensive ecosystem with unique interactive features and monetizing tools. It incorporates, among other things, betting and gambling, ticketing for major tournaments, a crowdfunding system for tournament organisation, an escrow system and the use of an internal token, the LUC, as the unit of payment for all services on the platform.

One of the focus areas of the Play2Live platform is speed. Thanks to Graphene technology, the speed of transactions is expected to exceed 50,000 TPS (transactions per second), which is hundreds of times faster than the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks, and in the region of the speed of Visa transactions. Graphene can also handle large amounts of data.

To ensure that their users have a top-quality gaming experience, Play2Live will implement a P2P CDN system. The decentralised nature of this approach is congruent with the overall philosophy of the platform itself. A major outcome is significant reduction in costs.

To ensure that the P2P networks are properly supported and that security is maintained, Play2Live has partnered with a CDN called G-Core Labs. G-Core provides geographical coverage with 37 PoPs on 4 continents. They have numerous recognitions, including:

· Best CDN performance in Russia and the CIS region (from Cedexis)

· One of the top 20 global solution suppliers in 2017 (by the American Technology magazine, CIOReview)

The most important recognition, from a gaming point of view is the 2013 Guinness Book of Records world record for “Most Players Online Simultaneously on one MOG Server” (MOG = multiplayer online game). In 2014, they surpassed this record, when their network served 1,114,000 online gamers simultaneously. The G in G-Core is for “Game”, and their entire infrastructure has been developed with the needs of gaming in mind. It’s worth watching their introductory video to hear about this and to see how impressive their data centers are.

So, users on the Play2Live platform will not have to wait (and get angry and dangerous)! They can get on with gaming.

And, to add yet another sweetener into the mix, the Play2Live platform will reward those who become a part of the P2P network and share their computer resources with others. They will earn LUC tokens, which they can use on the platform, or they can exchange for crypto- or fiat currency. This is made possible by the blockchain technology used on the platform, and can be depicted as follows:

In summary, Play2Live solves one of the major problems of the gaming industry — user frustration at slow internet speed. It does this partly through its own infrastructure and technology, partly through the partnership with the CDN G-Core, and partly through the implementation of decentralised P2P networks. And then users get paid for being part of the solution!

The only reason for gamers on this site to be angry and dangerous will be that they or their teams are losing, not that they are losing internet connection at crucial times!

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