Case Study

Delivering Fast-Paced Games

Hi-Rez Studios consistently delivers rapid
performance despite relentless DDoS attacks.

About the Company

Hi-Rez Studios is an independent developer
and publisher of free-to-play video games,
with millions of players located across the
Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.
Industry: Consumer Web Headquarters: Alpharetta, Georgia, USA Use Case: DDoS Monitoring, BGP Monitoring
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Networking is Not a Game

Hi-Rez Studios is an independent video game developer and publisher committed to providing a fast, low-latency experience to their more than 15 million players across the globe. If Hi-Rez is unable to deliver a high-quality experience to their players, they risk frustrating their passionate user base and losing gamers to their competitors. Maintaining high network performance is crucial to Hi-Rez's success.

The Challenge of Endless DDoS Attacks

Though Hi-Rez has a robust network infrastructure with global data centers and 600 servers located all over the world, that hasn't deterred attackers from launching DDoS attacks targeting Hi-Rez. Hi-Rez handles about three DDoS attacks per day, each more than 70 Gbps. Given the volume and frequency of attacks, they made the decision to always keep their network behind Prolexic, their DDoS mitigation provider.
Hi-Rez Studios

"Before ThousandEyes, we were being brought to our knees
with nonstop DDoS attacks. ThousandEyes gave us visibility on
the network as a whole, from BGP changes to ASN stability."

Nabil Ismail
VP, Operations & Technology
Still, Prolexic didn't discourage all of the attackers — in the past, Hi-Rez was completely brought down by attackers who targeted the weak points in their infrastructure provider's network. Hi-Rez lost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of players as a result. Following that outage, Nabil Ismail, VP of Operations & Technology at Hi-Rez Studios, and his team deployed ThousandEyes to rapidly locate the weak points and issues in their network.

The Importance of Complete Visibility

Hi-Rez deployed a variety of vantage points that send tests to Hi-Rez's data centers. To monitor connectivity between their data centers, they set up tests running from Enterprise Agents deployed in all of their data centers to the Enterprise Agent in their core data center in Atlanta, GA. To understand end-user experience, Hi-Rez also utilizes Cloud Agents located in different networks all over the world to target Hi-Rez services.

With vantage points monitoring their network infrastructure from all over the world, Hi-Rez can see not only into their own network, but also into the changes and issues occurring in their upstream ISPs and other service providers. Now, the Hi-Rez team can understand whether users are able to reach their network during a DDoS attack and locate the failure points that need reinforcement. Armed with a wealth of concrete data, the Hi-Rez support team is now able to quickly inform users of the cause of the problem, helping to strengthen customer relationships.
ThousandEyes BGP Route Visualization
Hi-Rez uses the BGP Route Visualization to locate failure points and make sure users can reach their network.
ThousandEyes Path Visualization
Hi-Rez uses the Path Visualization to monitor the performance of their upstream service providers, including Prolexic.

Tackling Unexpected Vendor Issues

Unfortunately, being constantly attacked isn't the only challenge. Because the Hi-Rez network is always behind Prolexic, it must also manage issues and instability that occur within Prolexic's network. In the past, some of Hi-Rez's servers would disconnect for no apparent reason every eight minutes, upsetting large swaths of users who had to frequently log in and reconnect. The Hi-Rez network team bought new equipment to replace their entire network and data center, but even that didn't fix the problem.

After implementing ThousandEyes, Hi-Rez finally got to the root of the problem. They discovered that the issues occurred whenever Prolexic made a change within its own network. They solved the problem by simply contacting Prolexic's engineers and telling them to make changes less frequently. As Nabil summarizes, "With ThousandEyes, I'm able to do a lot of root cause analysis. Now we're very definite with our answers, and I no longer live in the gray not knowing what happened during a network outage."

"I've replaced a whole network just because I thought my network
was at fault. Thanks to ThousandEyes, we figured out that it wasn't,
and we fixed the problem with one phone call. ThousandEyes
paid for itself just by uncovering that issue."

Nabil Ismail
VP, Operations & Technology