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EnterpriseDB Tapped For Online Gaming

Sony has selected the the open source PostgreSQL system to support Free Realm, a data-intense multiplayer online game.

Charles Babcock

March 9, 2010

2 Min Read

Sony Online Entertainment has opted to use the EnterpriseDB database system to support its Free Realms multi-player game, an online adventure and social networking game for preteens and young adults that currently has nine million active users.

It's the first use of EnterpriseDB Postgres Plus Advanced Server, built on the open source PostgreSQL system, for such a demanding online application. EnterpriseDB until now has been largely superceded by the open source MySQL as a Web application database system, given MySQL's early foothold on social networking and blogging sites.

Jamey Ryan, technical director of Sony Online Entertainment, said Sony decided on EnterpriseDB because it is a commercially supported, high performance system that tested out as capable of sustaining the game's activities. Information on each new player needs to be called up out of the database system and fed into the game's logic to engage the player.

"It's an extremely transaction heavy, update heavy environment," Ryan said. EnterpriseDB was adjusted to make sure it avoided any pauses in the game's operations as it "vacuumed up" rows that had been created but were no longer needed for a particular player, she said in an interview.

The online activity has required EnterpriseDB to keep up with growth that's gone from low figures at the game's launch last April 29 to the nine million figure announced March 5. Sony's research found 50% of the players are 8-12 years old; 25% are 13-18; and 25% are over 18.

Each player may create three avatars and then choose one as a player in a game, going on quests for coins and stardust, exploring, engaging in combat, building things, raising pets or engaging in social networking. The database system needs to remember the player's actions and whether the participant earned an increased level of play.

"Every time they log in, the system loads their data and dynamically changes it as they act" in the game, Ryan said. Part of the game's appeal is that it illustrates to young adults how they're participating with members of their age group from around the world.

Larry Alston, VP of EnterpriseDB marketing, said the lessons EnterpriseDB learns from online gaming will be incorporated into future versions of the product and shared with the PostgreSQL development community.

PostgreSQL is an ANSI SQL compliant relational database system whose development is coordinated by lead integrator Bruce Momjian and 200 committers managing code from a large contributor community. The database project is 15 years old.

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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