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Nordeus: Driving new gaming experiences for millions of users with a scalable infrastructure

About Nordeus

The Serbian mobile games company Nordeus first made its mark on the gaming scene with "Top Eleven," a soccer management simulation game. Launched on social media, the game is now available on multiple platforms and has 250 million registered users. Nordeus employs 180 people and was acquired by Take Two Interactive in June 2021.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Belgrade, Serbia

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Migrating from an on-premise infrastructure to Google Cloud has enabled Nordeus to achieve the scalability, stability, and cost efficiency it needs to deliver innovative gaming experiences.

Google Cloud results

  • Cut downtime for new deployments from three minutes to 10 seconds
  • Upscales and downscales effortlessly to accommodate traffic variations
  • Scale services from just a few CPUs to a few thousand CPUs in minutes

Developed 3D simulation with Google Kubernetes Engine

The popularity of esports, or competitive video game playing, has boomed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with lockdowns helping sales to soar. After all, video games are the ultimate form of escapism, something Serbian mobile games company Nordeus knows a thing or two about.

"We’re very user-oriented. Our players are very important to us, and we’re constantly thinking about new features we can offer them," says Strahinja Kustudić, Lead System Engineer, Nordeus. The company has had great success with games such as "Top Eleven," "Heroic," and "Golden Boot," but was in search of a more stable and scalable infrastructure that would enable its team to spend less time on maintenance and more time creating exciting new gaming experiences. So the company migrated to Google Cloud in 2019.

"As a small company, we have to work smart. We need tech that makes us more efficient and enables our developers to create great features for our players without worrying about maintenance or hardware failures. When we compared the options on the market, Google Cloud was the most developer-friendly."

Strahinja Kustudić, Lead System Engineer, Nordeus

Working smarter with a developer-friendly infrastructure

"Basically, we needed tech that would make our lives easier. We wanted to spend less time on tech and more time creating great game experiences," Kustudić says. A pioneer of Belgrade’s burgeoning startup scene, Nordeus currently employs 180 developers, artists, product managers, user acquisition specialists and other experts who collaborate across the game-making process.

The company previously maintained a self-managed, on-premise virtual machine-based private cloud environment, but as the team and user base grew, it found the set-up limiting. The hardware required constant maintenance and scalability was limited, requiring the team to continually provision extra servers.

"As a small company, we have to work smart. We need tech that makes us more efficient and enables our developers to create great features without worrying about maintenance or hardware failures," Kustudić says. "When we compared the options on the market, Google Cloud was the most developer-friendly."

Before moving to Google Cloud, the Nordeus team had used Google Workspace for day-to-day collaboration and file sharing. "The fact that we were already using Google products made it a lot easier to set up security accounts and logins on Google Cloud. We use Google Groups and Identity and Access Management (IAM) to define who has access to what. It's very easy and straightforward," says Kustudić.

Scaling effortlessly with Google Kubernetes Engine

Nordeus began a six-month migration journey, moving its entire technology stack over to Google Cloud, which the team found surprisingly straightforward. "The developer experience with Google Cloud was very positive," says Kustudić. "Everything from the web console UX to Identity and Access Management was very user-friendly, and we were supported by the Google Cloud team every step of the way."

In January 2022, Nordeus began migrating its games to Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) in anticipation of the release of 3D live matches, a new "Top Eleven" feature that provides live game simulation. And in March 2022, the company deployed services running its 3D live match engine on Google Kubernetes Engine. "The simulations are done on the backend and they’re very compute-heavy," Kustudić explains. "We now have plans to migrate almost all of our workloads to Google Kubernetes Engine. We’re very satisfied with it, as it’s enabled us to do things that we didn’t think were possible beforehand." The team furthermore reduced their instance costs by a third by using Spot Virtual Machines.

Nordeus’s previous set-up was static and over-provisioned, and in moving to Google Cloud the company was in search of greater flexibility and the ability to scale at will. "During the weekends, when a lot of people are playing, we need 6,000 to 8,000 CPUs just for the 3D live match services. But on a regular weekday, it's more like 400," Kustudić says. "Implementing autoscaling on Google Kubernetes Engine was extremely easy and now we can scale up and down instantly and effortlessly."

"Our users have been requesting 3D live matches ever since we first launched 'Top Eleven,' but it wouldn’t have been cost-effective beforehand. By migrating to Google Cloud, we’ve been able to make that happen."

Strahinja Kustudić, Lead System Engineer, Nordeus

Looking toward a dynamic, user-centric future

Since the migration began, Kustudić has noticed how Google Cloud has made a real difference to how the company approaches certain challenges. "We needed to make some adjustments to our gaming services, but on Google Cloud those changes were a lot easier. For example, when we deploy a new version of some legacy service we can use new VMs for that service alongside the current ones, transfer all the players to the new instances, and shut down old ones. We would be running old and new instances for just a few minutes at the same time, but this was impossible on a self-hosted infrastructure because we didn't have that much CPU/RAM to spare just for a few minutes during deployment."

The company is currently using Cloud Storage and has plans to implement BigQuery and Cloud SQL in the near future. "I really want us to go the BigQuery way, because it’s one of the best data warehouse tools out there," Kustudić says. "I’m interested in using Query Insights for Cloud SQL to detect performance problems, so we get higher performance observability and don't have to worry about the maintenance burden." The team is currently migrating more workloads onto Google Kubernetes Engine and is looking forward to more autoscaling capabilities and an increasingly dynamic infrastructure.

"Our users have been requesting 3D live matches ever since we first launched 'Top Eleven,' but it wouldn’t have been cost-effective beforehand," says Kustudić. "By migrating to Google Cloud, we’ve been able to make that happen."

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Nordeus

The Serbian mobile games company Nordeus first made its mark on the gaming scene with "Top Eleven," a soccer management simulation game. Launched on social media, the game is now available on multiple platforms and has 250 million registered users. Nordeus employs 180 people and was acquired by Take Two Interactive in June 2021.

Industries: Gaming
Location: Belgrade, Serbia