Closer to the action: Call of Duty League and Google Cloud deliver new feature for esports fans
Chief Architect, Google Cloud for Games
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Millions of people annually view esports, as top players and teams compete in thrilling, fast-paced tests of reflexes, strategy, and teamwork. Fans are a diverse group, sharing a passion for action. A new, revolutionary project we’re working on with Call of Duty League just made that action a lot better.
ActivStat brings fans, players, and commentators the power of competitive statistics in real-time—stats that matter not only to the game at hand, but also for a full roster of competitors globally. Using ActivStat, live broadcasts will soon be enhanced with more depth and color-of-play while they’re happening, building excitement and adding to the overall experience.
Technically, ActivStat is an entirely new capability for esports. It’s a constantly updating catalog of statistics that is sourced, analyzed, updated, and delivered in an easy-to-consume way across global-scale computing systems, with a latency of milliseconds or seconds, rather than minutes or hours. By comparison, many of these stats today are available to fans after a day or more of processing.
Call of Duty League plans to begin rolling out ActivStat during the 2021 season. The initial rollout will include critical information like player and team standings and winning ratios across multiple aspects of virtual combat—including ultimately what these numbers mean for rankings. ActivStats are delivered both in raw statistics and via visualizations and graphics, providing commentators with fast access to the types of insights fans crave.
For engineers at both companies, building the service has been an epic success all its own. Due to a sponsorship with Call of Duty signed last February, our dedicated game engineering team quickly innovated a new solution incorporating high-speed networking, data pipelines from multiple cloud sources, and data warehousing to create a user-friendly dashboard. Real data was flowing into commentator dashboards by April.
Esports are more complex to cover in many ways than regular sports. Instead of a well-defined physical playing field (often a simple rectangular space), multiplayer games involve complex and sprawling virtual environments that can be the size of a large campus or airport with multiple levels and hidden locations.
Gameplay between competitors happens across many of these locations simultaneously. In addition, competitors also each choose their own configurations of equipment, known as “loadouts,” which can dramatically affect gameplay and strategy. All of this additional complexity in online gaming involves data that needs to be captured, analyzed, and communicated to the fans in insightful ways.
Two Google Cloud technology capabilities play central roles in the operations of ActivStat. BigQuery—a planet-scale data warehouse that can store and query petabytes of information in real time—is the foundation of the ActivStat platform for gathering and summarizing millisecond-level statistics. Looker, an intuitive analytic dashboard, surfaces those insights to commentators in an easy-to-use, real-time dashboard that enables the commentators to speak to compelling insights and statistics in sync with the gameplay as it is happening in the live broadcast.
While the initial release of ActivStat for this season of Call of Duty League provides compelling and powerful capabilities, it’s only the beginning of this Call of Duty League-Google Cloud co-innovation partnership. Our future vision is mapping gameplay hotspots on the field, and predicting where to place cameras with machine learning as the match evolves--enabling broadcast producers to build excitement for fans by always being in the middle of the best action. Call of Duty League and Google will also look to drive statistics and metrics directly into the broadcast feed.
The implications of the real-time statistical capabilities of ActivStat go beyond gaming and esports. Historically, gaming has been at the leading edge of what computer processing, computer graphics, wide-area networking, data analysis, and insight can do. The real-time data ingestion and output used in ActivStat could one day be useful powering live broadcasts in other types of sporting events, as well as blending live video feeds and data to support use cases in media & entertainment, healthcare, finance, manufacturing, and other verticals. We’re excited about the potential for this bold new solution and partnership between Call of Duty League and Google in esports and beyond.
To learn more about Call of Duty League-Google Cloud partnership, visit our press release.