Online gaming user experience gets a boost

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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CityVille and The Sims Social gaming looks to have improved ten-fold.

IP service provider Level 3 Communications announced Monday its new platform designed to maximize and optimize bandwidth efficiency is now available to the highly competitive online gaming industry.

In order to meet the needs of fierce industry rivalries, Broadband Optimizer — Level 3’s new offering — combines the company’s global High Speed IP (HSIP) transit network with Level 3’s content delivery network (CDN) platform in an interchangeable manner. According to Level 3, it will improve bandwidth access and reduce the risk of service delays for gaming company users who want to escape into their virtual lives with little to no interruption.

“We have worked on a number of game launches and patches, and know how much speed and reliability can dictate the success of a customer’s product,” said Mark Taylor, vice president of Content and Media at Level 3, in a statement Monday.

As of Tuesday, The Sims Social, published by Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA),  boasts  66,216,462 monthly active users (MAU), according to The game was only recently bested by CityVille , published by industry rival, Zynga, at 76,142,813 MAU. The games are among several through which online gaming companies compete with each for users on Facebook.

The Los Angeles Times reported in September that rivalries between the companies is fierce. In the same way that tech companies like Google and Facebook steal employees from one another to gain a competitive edge in gaining the most users, things are no different for Zynga and EA.

“But while it’s one thing to offer IP services to the financial services or government sectors, providing quality of service (QOS) boosters to over-the-top entertainment companies can tricky, forcing service providers to dodge competitive and net neutrality concerns,” said tech industry writer Rich Karpinski in a blog post about Level 3’s new announcement.

“Yet at the same time, providing such ‘optimization’ services could be among the best — and most straightforward — ways for telecom operators to build a business around the entertainment content traversing their fixed and mobile networks,” said Karpinski.

Proponents of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules to regulate the Internet, however, voice major suspicion that IP providers like Level 3 operate with the same type of corporate greed celebrities like Kanye West are protesting in New York. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski favors the rules in that they would prevent IP providers from charging service users, like gaming companies, higher prices based on the bandwidth they consume.

Still, IP companies press on because, after all, Occupy Wall Street protesters blogging about their experiences will also undoubtedly need to unwind from the frenzy on their social network of choice and play their online game of choice.

“Our new Bandwidth Optimizer solution was built to address industry needs, and allows game developers and publishers to spend more time focusing on creating the best gaming experiences possible,” said Taylor.

Representatives from Zynga and EA were not available for comment at the time of publication.