Soccer Manager: scaling a virtual sports universe for success on Google Cloud Platform

By using up-to-date, real-world statistics in its online sports simulation games, UK-based Soccer Manager has built up a base of 16 million registered players across mobile and desktop platforms since it launched its soccer management simulator in 2005. With 150,000 people playing every day, Soccer Manager’s infrastructure needs to deliver smooth performance while remaining cost-effective and highly available. To meet this rising demand, Soccer Manager turned to Google Cloud Platform.

“You can spin up instantly, the hardware’s very fast, you can scale things up and down and it’s simple to do. In the twelve years I’ve been working with servers, Google Cloud Platform is the best product I’ve come across.” - Andrew Gore, Chief Executive Officer, Soccer Manager

Halving costs, optimising performance

Web-based gaming demands rock-solid infrastructure able to deliver a smooth in-game experience at all times. Soccer Manager has to store over 500,000 saved games in the cloud and process a daily deluge of data points from real world soccer data. Because the game’s audience fluctuates throughout the day, and with an ever-expanding player base, the company needed a fast, flexible cloud solution that could deliver results while keeping costs to a minimum.

Google Cloud Platform offered the best of both worlds – the company could be flexible without sinking money into infrastructure it might not need. Google Compute Engine's autoscaling features meant that the company could meet peak-time demand without over-provisioning servers. Before GCP, storage was at a premium and user data had to be deleted to ensure that queries ran smoothly and on time. Thanks to Google Cloud Bigtable and Google BigQuery, Soccer Manager can now collect, store and analyse big data in order to improve its products.

“Buying a year's worth of server space in advance was holding us back. Now, with Google Cloud Platform’s autoscaling, heavy use discounts and general low prices - we’ve been able to halve our costs.” - Andrew Gore, Chief Executive Officer, Soccer Manager

New tools, new horizons

Shifting to Google Cloud Platform noticeably improved performance and user experience on its website and applications. The greatest improvements came in data processing. Every night, Soccer Manager processes hundreds of thousands of fixtures and delivers the results to its eager players. What used to take two hours now takes one. With storage so cheap, Soccer Manager has started to amass a wealth of user data which opens up new possibilities for the games. With Google’s machine learning tools such as Tensorflow, Soccer Manager can identify user trends, find cheats or add new data-driven features that evolve alongside the players’ needs for a more complete gaming experience.

“On Google Cloud Platform, our games are the fastest they’ve ever been and we didn't need to make any application changes or optimisation. We're using the same version of the software, the same version of MySQL, the same version of Apache and PhP. Webpages load up instantly, the apps are faster, cron jobs are about twice as fast. I wish it had existed ten years ago!” - Andrew Gore, Chief Executive Officer, Soccer Manager