What small game studios need to know about security — before they launch (VB Live)
November 1, 2020
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Presented by Akamai

Launching a new game studio means building the infrastructure of your dreams from scratch. Join our panel of tech and operational experts for help on how to start strong and prepare to scale, plus hear from developers at other independent studios in this VB Live event!

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When it comes to launching a brand-new game studio, the most important bit of advice Jonathan Singer, senior manager of global games industry at Akamai has is, “Plan for success, but design for scale.” That means designing your game assuming that you’re going to do really well, because although not every game succeeds to a massive scale, you want to be ready when it does.

This is essential to keep top of mind for new studios because founders tend to be the creatives at the heart of the game, rather than network architects. The most important infrastructure from the perspective of the creatives is the game engine, and the technology that allows you to build the type of player experience you want to deliver to your audience.

Then comes monetization, and implementing a storefront, or partnering with the right publisher to get on the right platforms, and so on from there, working outward and implementing new technology as the next consideration comes into play.

“When you finally get toward some of what are arguably the most important pieces of the overall player experience outside of the game, it becomes farther and farther away from the core expertise of the people founding the studios,” Singer says. “As studios start up, they’re thinking, how are we going to make the most awesome game, rather than, how am I going to scale this globally? What happens if I end up with a runaway hit?”

These technology decisions should be integrated from the start, baked into the development of the game. Because otherwise, things get overlooked — and the thing that gets overlooked most often is security. When designing the game you might be thinking about how players could cheat the game economy, but it’s the criminals who target your game and your players that directly impact the quality, reputation, and success of your game.

This is also important because a new studio won’t have a traditional in-house network perimeter and its own data center, but instead use cloud services and infrastructure as a service. Decentralized infrastructure means your data is available in the cloud from the start, whether that’s your confidential projects in development, where a leak would have financial repercussions, or player data when you launch your game.

And if you’re starting a business where you’ll be taking people’s personally identifiable information, or taking their credit cards so that they can make in-game purchases, you’re responsible for that data, and you’re also a target. That means you should be thinking about protecting access, protecting against threats, and protecting your applications from a distributed standpoint and very determined antagonists from the beginning.

“What you need to understand, if you’re starting a new studio, is that criminals are highly organized,” Singer explains. “They operate like an enterprise. They have product development that goes into QA. They make feature requests. They have marketing and PR. They spread misinformation through Reddit.”

Cybercriminals’ main focus tends to be account takeovers, and they target your players hard with phishing attacks. And they gain the most amount of success targeting your most vulnerable players — the ones who know the least about hackers, the people who haven’t taken corporate training on how to spot a phishing email.

The thing about criminals is they want to make money quickly and don’t want to spend a lot of effort, so setting up multi-factor authentication by default is a big deterrent. A technically able person could spend time and break MFA, or they could put that in their bucket of MFA-protected accounts and sell it to someone who’s interested in doing the work — but most thieves will simply ignore it and move on to the next account they can easily crack with a password cracking application.

“You want to make sure that your company, your game, is not low-hanging fruit for criminals,” he says.

You also want to ensure your community knows exactly how you’ll communicate with them so they don’t fall for phishing attacks, including what kind of information official communications will request. Security should also be an ongoing conversation with your users. And while they know that security is partly on them, they’re still expecting publishers and studios to fix the problems.

There’s always going to be a tradeoff between user experience and security, and you need to work with your users and your technology to find a balance. But the balance can’t be, we leave you to the wolves, and then we clean up the mess.

“’Data breach reveals 14 million gamer accounts’ is not the article you want to appear at the top of your google search results,” Singer says. “So you need to think about security ahead of time.”

To learn more about setting up a game studio infrastructure to succeed from the start, the basic security protocols that will keep your players safe from the get-go, how small studios can set themselves up to scale large, and more, don’t miss this VB Live event.

Don’t miss out!

Register here for free.

You will learn about:

  • Optimizing Time to Play: removing obstacles from the player experience
  • Basic account security practices: building a more secure player base from day 1
  • Zero Trust: starting with modern enterprise security practices


  • Glen Schofield, Chief Executive Officer, Striking Distance Studios
  • Emily Greer, Co-founder & CEO, Double Loop Games
  • James Dobrowski, Managing Director, Sharkmob
  • Jonathan Singer, Senior Manager – Global Games Industry, Akamai
  • Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer, GamesBeat (moderator)
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