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On-line gaming is an increasingly popular form of entertainment on the Internet. Unfortunately, effectively hosting on-line games is a difficult, expensive proposition made more onerous by the lack of workload models for games or known characteristics of gamers. Due to the unpredictable nature of the popularity of a game, combined with the high barrier to entry for hosting, a number of academic and industry projects have focused on providing a shared on-demand infrastructure to solve the hosting problem.

To understand the benefits of such infrastructure, this paper presents a comprehensive analysis of a collection of on-line game players and game usage data from a number of unique sources, mostly biased towards the FPS genre. Our results show that gamers are difficult to satisfy throughout the gameplay process: they are likely to leave and never return if they can't connect, they are likely to leave within the first few minutes if they don't enjoy the server's characteristics, and they are unlikely to become loyal to a server. In addition, the popularity of this collection of games follows a power-law distribution, with a small number of games having orders of magnitude more players than the rest. This makes resource provisioning very difficult for the initial release of a game when popularity has not been established and provides a promising area where shared hosting can provide benefit. Although initial provisioning is difficult, our results also show that once established, game workloads are relatively stable from week to week, allowing game providers to more easily allocate resources to meet demand. In addition, we determine that game workloads are synchronized amongst themselves and other interactive applications and that they follow strong diurnal, geographic patterns. Such synchronization makes it difficult to obtain statistical multiplexing gain between games and other interactive applications when using shared infrastructure. Finally, we show that game software updates provide a significant burden on game hosting and must be scheduled and planned for accordingly.

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Next: Up: $FILE Previous: Game updates significantly impact