Building a Game with a Cloud Backend

You need to think about what the cloud can do for you, whether it's something small like sharing save states or something larger like monitoring data and making quick iterations while your product is live. Then you can think about whether your use aligns with your players' perceptions, and whether you need to surface any information about your usage to show that your cloud offering is significant enough to give you an advantage.

The cloud can give you more than technology

If you decide to move to a cloud service, you may find that it offers your more benefits than you might think. An example can be seen in the indie development studio Gateway Interactive, who ditched their server stack in favour of moving to the cloud. While this resulted in faster transaction speeds and other improvements The savings they made from moving off a local server stack to a cloud-based model allowed them to hire an extra team member, increasing productivity and the quality of their upcoming games.

A platform agnostic approach is a powerful approach

One of the greatest benefits of game developers using the cloud is the fact that it's completely platform agnostic. If you were to create an app for the iOS platform using your own engine, you'd then have to make numerous changes and alterations to get it working on Windows and Android.

Pick your Middleware

This is why middleware solutions like Unity have thrived, as they allow for easy porting between different devices. However, these apps are never going to be connected without the use of the cloud. For example, do you want players to be able to move from one device to another and continue where they left off? Do you want players to be able to compete with each other, irrespective of what device they are using?

Agility is essential

Game development has come a long way in the past decade. Internet connectivity on devices has allowed for developers to create additional content and patch out previously undiscovered errors after the initial release, something that was once impossible.

Embrace big data

If you truly want to understand your users and how they play, then big data is the way to go. Not only will you be able to see information such as playing habits and playtime length, but you can also see details that'll help you with your next iteration, such as making improvements to a level if most people are getting stuck. Even if you're not planning to use the full capabilities of the cloud.

Example of Cloud Services

To give you some idea of how we are using cloud please watch the following video from Microsoft Studio Zoo Tycoon Friends. Zoo Tycoon Friends, a free-to-play title for Windows 8 PCs and tablets, plus Windows Phones. It was developed by Doritos Crash Course studio Behaviour Interactive and looks similar to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions of Zoo Tycoon that launched in November last year.

Like the Xbox versions of Zoo Tycoon, gameplay revolves around interacting with the animals themselves, as well as building your park. Instead of Kinect controls, you'll now be clicking or tapping on your animals to care for their needs.

See the game trailer below:

Here is a nice technical overview of how the team has implemented Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

Comments (3)

  1. Mazhar md says:

    Thanks Lee, it's an eye opener for me,  i totally agree that moving from local server to cloud based will definitely saves a lot, as i was reading the similar stuff on another article <a href="">here</a>

  2. Paul Boocock says:

    Good post. Any particular resources you could recommend for developing suitable software architectures for building cloud backends for games?

    This would make for an interesting talk 😉

  3. Lee Stott says:


    We have some great example see and documentation on great games with Cloud backends and have more coming see…/building-cloud-based-games-a-look-into-how-they-did-it-with-wordament.aspx

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