Reliable live experiences at scale powers gameplay for 30 million monthly users

PeopleFun is one of the world's top developers of casual mobile games, with titles including Wordscapes, Wordstacks, Word Chums and Wordscapes in Bloom attracting millions of active users every month. It relies on realtime to deliver engaging gameplay across a range of titles.

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Size

Scaleup

Industry

Gaming

Use case

Casual Multiplayer Games

THE PROBLEM
Adding live gameplay features at scale

PeopleFun's success is built on the talent and commitment of its diverse team and a laser-like focus on its core competencies – developing and monetizing engaging word games for iOS and Android devices. So, when it wanted to add a realtime ‘zing’ to its turn based Wordchums game, building its own realtime communication capability and integrating it with game engines like Unity was not an option.

Leon Campise, Vice President of Operations & Engineering at PeopleFun, explained: We briefly looked at what it would take to build and implement our own realtime protocol - which would essentially operate as a Unity networking library - and quickly decided against it. To build even a basic solution would be a formidable effort and we don't even want to own that IP. Building games is what we do and what we want to focus on so, as far as possible, we buy-in everything else. 

Instead, it wanted to find a realtime infrastructure partner able to support some exacting demands:

  • Predictable realtime performance would be vital to consistently delivering engaging, fast-paced game play - for instance ensuring game moves are shown to other players in real time, driving live chat and updating realtime leaderboards.

  • Realtime message integrity was also a crucial consideration, because duplicate messages or wrongly ordered messages directly impact the quality of the game experience.

  • With the business primed for growth and realtime set to play a central role, it wanted to find a genuine partner willing to work in close collaboration – scaling to support growth without impacting on PeopleFun’s financial models.

30m+

Active users per month

4.9/5

Wordscapes app store rating

150%

Increase in employee count

Ably was such an easy decision for PeopleFun. It was the only vendor out there about to offer all the realtime performance, integrity, and reliability we needed, but the real killer feature from our point of view was its partnership philosophy. That desire to grow with us, and the ability to scale without impacting our financial models really gave us the confidence to put realtime at the heart of our development roadmap - other realtime vendors simply could not offer that ability scale economically.”

Leon CampiseVice President of Operations & Engineering
THE SOLUTION
Realtime performance, scale and partnership for the long-term

PeopleFun chose Ably to provide the realtime capabilities it needed. The decision was driven by a number of factors, from pure realtime performance and a low-risk implementation requiring no developer input, to technical onboarding provided at no cost. Crucially, Ably's focus on working in close partnership with customers ensured that new realtime capabilities would scale and develop in step with PeopleFun's own growth strategy

Campise said: “It was an easy choice in the end. Everything I was exposed to, whether talking to engineers or working on solution design told me that a lot of good decisions were being made at Ably. That, along with the quality of its solutions and a focus on collaboration made me very comfortable that we had found the right partner. 

“Deployment really couldn't have been easier, especially given Ably already had the protocol adapter we needed. It was seamless. We were expecting a flood of support tickets but there were no fire drills. It just worked.”

30m+

Active users per month

4.9/5

Wordscapes app store rating

150%

Increase in employee count

THE RESULTS
A partnership for innovation and growth

Realtime is now a key component of PeopleFun's growth strategy, adding ‘zing’ to the gaming experience, enabling innovative new games and the addition of a realtime-driven 'Teams' mode to some of its most popular titles: 

  • Ably's predictable performance, with median global latencies and bandwidth always within specific operating boundaries, ensures in-game interactions are effectively instant and delivers a consistent experience, without frustrating variations in the pace of game play.

  • Its system architecture is designed to maintain end-to-end message integrity, which underpins 100% guaranteed message delivery and guaranteed message ordering, as well as exactly once delivery semantics – all crucial to a slick gaming experience.

“Ably has absolutely brought a realtime zing to game play,” Campise explained. “When people are playing on the same couch, for instance, there is no waiting between turns. It feels instant for both users, and keeps the game moving. On top of that, knowing that Ably supports exactly once semantics also allows us to simplify game architecture and engineering.”

Since adopting Ably as its Unity networking library, PeopleFun has grown significantly. Its games now attract more than 30 million active users per month and, since 2019, its team has grown from 20 to 50 employees – growth that Ably’s fault tolerant, highly scalable platform has supported effortlessly.

“Ably is so good, so solid. Every day it just works, so we’ve had no concerns about leaning ever more heavily on realtime as a core element of game experience,” Campise said. 

“That's the value of working closely with a partner that's committed to growing with us. I strongly feel Ably has a similar philosophy to creating win-win relationship with customers as we do. That has been crucial over the last three years - as realtime has become ever more important in our product roadmaps, Ably has supported us at every step of the way.”

30m+

Active users per month

4.9/5

Wordscapes app store rating

150%

Increase in employee count