Who makes the servers hum in SoftLayer data centers around the world?
The SLayers are the brains and muscle beneath the SoftLayer cloud—and you had a chance to meet some of us in last year’s Under the Infrastructure series. But each firewall has two sides! And those servers would not be humming if not for our brilliant customers.
Welcome to the Cloudocracy.
Whether you prefer to pass the bus journey with a puzzle game, or settle down for a tour of combat with your console, there’s a chance your gaming is managed by Zumidian. This week in our Cloudocracy series, we’d like to introduce you to CEO and President Nicolas Zumbiehl, who enjoys family time, cooking, and, of course, games!
SOFTLAYER: Are you more Angry Birds or Call of Duty?
NICOLAS ZUMBIEHL: Call of Duty. I prefer to play strategy games, though—like World of Tanks—rather than first-person shooters. It seems strange, because I work in the gaming industry, but I don’t have a single game on my iPhone or iPad. I’m a PC and console player at heart. Until last year, I had both an Xbox and PS3. Now I just have a PS4 at home. Today, I most enjoy playing games with my kids.
SL: How did you become president of Zumidian?
ZUMBIEHL: I founded the company! Previously, I was working for Hypernia, a game hosting company in Florida. Hosting is becoming a commodity business and I wanted to provide more value to gaming companies. I found a niche doing what we call “game management.” Basically, we run the whole game environment for our customers—not only the infrastructure, but the game itself, the payment gateways, the database, everything that makes up the game. We ensure it’s available for players 24/7 around the world.
SL: What does being president involve, day-to-day?
ZUMBIEHL: Zumidian is still a small company, with fewer than 20 people, so I mostly handle sales, business development, and relationships with suppliers like SoftLayer. I travel all over the world, visiting gaming trade shows and meeting customers. I like to travel to the US, where we have most of our operations, and I also like Asia. Singapore and Korea are my two favorite places there. Singapore I like for the city and the environment; in Korea, the people are really friendly and I have lots of friends and customers there.
SL: What changes has online gaming brought about?
ZUMBIEHL: In the past, you’d buy a game for $70. With online gaming, the model is free to play but if you want to progress quickly, you need to buy items. The majority of players still play for free, but the ones that really want to succeed pay for it—sometimes big money. There is a Clash of Clans player in Korea who spends $30,000 per month on the game.
SL: What tips would you offer to startups looking to launch their first online game?
ZUMBIEHL: The cost of acquiring customers is increasing more and more. It’s becoming very hard to succeed. Most of the popular games are made by four or five companies. Personally, I’m not sure I would invest in a game now.
Try to offer your game on all available platforms from the very start. In some countries, people prefer to play on smartphones and tablets, and in others they favor consoles.
You need to add content all the time. If you have a simple PC or console game, people will play it through in 20 to 30 hours and get bored. They’ll say it’s cool, but it sucks because after 30 hours, that’s it. To be successful, you need to think about how you’ll generate interest often.
If you want to go global, you have to put your game servers as close to users as possible, while still maintaining your back office servers in one location so you don’t have to duplicate them around the world. One of the reasons we work with SoftLayer is that you can pretty much build a global infrastructure.
SL: What changes do you think online gaming will bring about in the future?
ZUMBIEHL: Virtual reality will become more and more common, enabling you to really immerse yourself in the game. Gaming is increasingly going to be online. It will be more of a rental or service model, where you can play a game from way more devices, on almost anything that has a screen.
Learn more about Zumidian here.