Unreal Engine Live Streaming Services: The Future of Gaming in Singapore

by Bogota


With the advent of technology, the internet has become increasingly accessible to everyone. Internet users are finding new ways to use it. This, in turn, has created a new method of human interaction. The rise of computer streaming has created a renaissance in entertainment and communication, with the use of live streaming services becoming increasingly popular. Furthermore, online video game competitions are also becoming a serious business. All over the world, the prize pools and player salaries for esports competitions are on the rise. Esports gamers are constantly looking for ways to step up their game. One of the ways to do this is to increase one’s viewer base. By using live streaming services, esports gamers can share their live gameplay with viewers, allowing them to interact with them in a more direct way. The largest esports gaming competitions have their own live streaming events. UGC’s “Iron Games” Halo Championship used a professional green room studio and both live streaming and video on demand to create a weekly tournament experience that drew over ten thousand concurrent viewers. All of these events point to live streaming’s importance in esports and video gaming as a whole.

The rise of live streaming services

Live streaming services first emerged in the early 2000s and have increased in popularity due to Twitch and other streaming platforms making gaming a focal point. In Asia and East Asia, Singapore being in the middle of it, online gaming has been a pastime and an attribute to Asian culture. The ability to stream has been made so easy to access that everyone is able to display their talent, uploading professional matches or simply streaming for fun. There are numerous reasons as to why Singaporeans use live streaming services. Gamers are able to learn and discuss gaming strategies, enjoy friendly competitions, and grow game communities. Avid gamers can enjoy watching repeat broadcasts as much as live ones. Music enthusiasts are able to enjoy live performances, whether it is an individual singing or composition by a band. For example, the ability to play custom games in Warcraft III has really boosted the popularity of live streaming services and created a demand for live streamers. With more disposable income, a significant number of Singaporeans are subscribing to private stream channels as a form of entertainment. In 2009, the reach of the online live streaming industry expanded significantly past that of music. Social media websites can provide an avenue for hosting “casual” game presentations. Today, Forbes, partnered with market research firm Digsite, reported that the percentage of gamers who prefer to self-isolate and not play with friends has decreased from 22% to 13% during the Covid-19 pandemic. But it’s the statistics prior to the pandemic that are of significant importance to the gaming industry. Live streaming, hosted social, and custom match gaming accounted for 40% of time spent gaming. As most of the results in this survey are a case of correlation and not causation, Singapore’s current live stream population provides significant evidence for these claims.

The impact of Unreal Engine in the gaming industry

The gaming industry has always been an ever-changing, fast-paced scene, but more recently, some significant trends have emerged. One of these is the move by many developers to blueprints over traditional coding. While blueprints are hardly a new concept, their adoption on a wide-scale level has seen some developers transitioning from traditional code to visual scripting. The primary reason is likely the increased accessibility and speed blueprints offer – no longer must developers spend hours deciphering lines of code to debug a simple problem, and, assuming a blueprint is well-organised, visual scripting can be more intuitive than traditional code. Some have gone so far as to create entire games using no code at all, relying on the power of blueprints and existing engine features to see their projects through to completion. This migration to visual scripting has the potential to hold lasting effects upon games development, and it does well to highlight the ever-present push for increased efficiency within the industry.

Unreal Engine Live Streaming Services in Singapore

Singapore has been known internationally as a technology hub. It’s a reputation that has lived through the years, especially with various IT companies making the island their principal place of business for Asia. This is evident, especially with the growing size of the gaming industry in Singapore. Over the years, some of the top-selling games such as Assassin’s Creed, FIFA Online, and Call of Duty are developed with Singapore as the base. With government initiatives and cooperation with local polytechnics, the gaming industry will undoubtedly be a major revenue earner for the country. This will also mean that there is an increase in demand for better and more effective game development tools. UE will provide an extensive toolset and staple functionality for games, which may range from MMO (massive multiplayer online) RPGs (role-playing games), MMOFPS (massive multiplayer online first-person shooters), and MMORTS (massive multiplayer online real-time strategy) games. These tools are scalable to all types of game genres because they are specifically designed as a low learning curve, high results type of tools. With this, the world of game development can only expand in Singapore. As more complex and high-end games are developed, the need for high-end game development and its showcasing will also be needed. Live streaming services for game events are starting to become a trend of late, and it will only grow more with the gaming industry. It is common to see events such as LAN (local area network) competitions and game previews hosted in Singapore. And the most common way to showcase such events is through web publications of the game’s event or screenshots. Alternatively, companies can record footage of the event and release it over the internet. With live streaming, full video and audio footage of the game event can be broadcasted to an online community in real-time without the need for video uploads. This could be the best way to advertise newly developed games or games to be released with a similar MMO genre. Live streaming is also cost-effective compared to video production, and it is more entertaining to watch as viewers are able to witness the events that unfold in the game. This will only lead to more demands for high-quality work, and Unreal’s suite of tools can deliver the high-end solutions for such needs. With the ability to develop games to suit online game events, there may be a need to custom build games for events’ showcasing. This may even merge with the idea of developing a game to suit video production of the game’s backdrop and happenings. An example will be the release of Halo 3 game footage machinima, which has a huge following of the game’s community. This can only mean more potential revenue for the gaming industry and more job opportunities for aspiring game developers.

Overview of the gaming industry in Singapore

This section provides a brief overview of the gaming industry in Singapore, providing a context within which top gamer clubs currently operate. As in many modern countries, Singapore culture has shifted to include gaming as a major form of entertainment for all age groups. Digital games are becoming a dominant form of entertainment in Singapore, and according to a recent study, 97% of Singaporeans are gamers, with many playing daily. Recognizing this, the Singapore government launched the iJam initiative in 2003, aiming to promote the local game development industry by awarding grants and incentives to developers. This initiative has been extended, with the opening of the Games Solution Centre (GSC), a technology-based initiative by the Media Development Authority which provides distributed computing services to game developers to assist them in developing digital media games. This industry growth and government support has led to a large demand in gaming events and competitions, and several major games exposition and fairs are now being held annually. In 2007 alone, there were as many as 56 gaming-related events in Singapore that attracted a total of 500,000 participants. The World Cyber Games also announced that it will be holding its grand finals in Singapore for 2008, a significant event for local gamers. With such a large target audience and a rise in competitive gaming, there is great potential for the game development industry in Singapore.

The need for live streaming services in Singapore

Live streaming has been very popular in western countries as they allow viewers to watch live gameplays and even participate in the game with the streamer. Viewers are able to ask questions and learn how to play the game while the streamers are able to interact with their viewers. Currently, the trend has yet to pick up in Singapore with only a few popular live video game tournament live streams. There are currently no live streaming services readily available for gamers to use and share their gameplay experiences with others. This is, in fact, a big potential marketing tool for undiscovered game bugs or game features that are useful to game studio hiring managers. With UE being a big part of the game development industry, having a live stream service to promote the use of UE to even better game graphics will be a great method for reaching out to more potential game developers. In the teaching aspect, a game developer can opt to record his game development process and hold private class videos for his students to stream. This saves time and cost in contrast to traveling down to the student’s place and having to explain the same thing.

Benefits of using Unreal Engine for live streaming

Live streaming infrastructure is another area of focus for Unreal Engine. Many game types are now being designed as a continually updated service. Regular interval updates ensure new engagement and bring a user base back to the game. Using conventional patch methods and entirely new installations of the game can be suboptimal for cost and time reasons. Meanwhile, this method of game delivery is highly suitable for live streaming services. There is a large opportunity for market growth in both live streaming infrastructure and continual service-based games. The faster and more efficient the live streaming service, the less the gap there is between development and playing of new game content. Unreal Engine live streaming infrastructure aims to provide the fastest and highest quality method for updating game content and provide a system in which user data is retained. This will ideally save time and effort for developers, create a static environment for users, and further bring down the cost of continual game service updates.

Post Process Effects cite for above Somehow tie it into reaching quality and style bar, and how this effect visuals in relation to cost compared to others. Easier said than done.

Due to the highly competitive nature of the gaming market, it is increasingly important for developers to have the tools to create content both efficiently and cost-effectively. Unreal Engine provides a highly efficient development environment with content creation tools for the tasks that developers do most, resulting in a streamlined process which brings down the overall cost of development. By allowing developers to create content with less effort, in a shorter amount of time, Unreal Engine can provide a significant cost benefit when compared to other 3D engines. In addition, with console generations and PC technology advancing the quality bar in games, the cost of developing highly detailed content is increasing. With the same content, Unreal Engine can make it look better, thanks to a high level shader-based pipeline with advanced, state-of-the-art post-processing effects. This may allow developers to scale back content production to lower cost levels, yet still achieve similar visual results.

Implementing Unreal Engine Live Streaming Services

Integrating interactive features for viewers Interactive features to engage the viewers while live streams are the key point to gain and retain an audience compared to video on demand content. UE4 and Unity are known to be easy tools for indie developers, but the developers may not have knowledge of integrating a browser to access web contents within the game itself. Most interactive features for live streams require web development on a separate server or web API which is a completely different skill set to game development. The faster method to allow game developers to integrate live stream features would be most ideal. An example would be Twitch adding the Twitch Developer Suite for easy integration of Twitch features to games and the Twitch SDK for a customizable option. This allows the developer to easily add features such as chat, video player, or even the stream itself within the game. With it being easy there are limited issues with not being able use the entirety of Twitch features at the time. Ideally, there would be Twitch or a different live streaming services company to provide a suite and feature APIs to integrate the stream and stream features at the companies best interest.

Setting up a live streaming platform with Unreal Engine The first step to live streaming requires a platform to stream it from. There are several popular live streaming platforms such as Twitch, Azubu, YouTube Live, Hitbox, and Zhanqi TV. Many of them use Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) to send their live streams to their selected server. RTMP is currently the best way to stream with low latency and best used with Adobe Flash which is what Twitch currently uses. YouTube has implemented RTMP as well, but has another method to stream via HTML5 player that is still in development. Hitbox uses FTL (Faster Than Light) protocol for less than 1 second of latency at the cost of higher upload speed and more dedicated servers. Zhanqi TV is the most popular streaming platform in China which uses RTMP. With the use of RTMP and development of RTMP servers, it is possible to set it up stream to specific platforms or even a personal website for custom live streaming services. However, the main focus is on the integration of the live streaming feature in a game.

Live streaming has always been a huge part of the gaming industry and it is still growing. Live streaming platforms such as Twitch, Azubu, and YouTube Gaming have been offering good services. However, live streaming with game development engines has not been deemed as user friendly due to the steep learning curves and complex steps in integrating and implementing features from the engines. With Unreal Engine’s popularity and investment on trying to grab interest to UE4 game developers to try implementing live streaming features, there is potential rise in live streaming services with Unreal Engine.

Setting up a live streaming platform with Unreal Engine

The next step is to develop a video player with support for interactive features using Unreal Engine and Scaleform.

The Unreal Media Server is an efficient and reliable open-source multimedia streaming server software for streaming on-demand, live, near-live, and digital media content to any number of simultaneous users. More importantly, UMP includes an RTMP server. RTMP is a transfer protocol that can be used to stream data to viewers on a push or pull basis. This makes UMP very versatile. It can be installed on a single server for small websites or a cluster of servers for major content providers. Regardless of the number of servers used, data is streamed to viewers using a pull-based method without using any additional upload bandwidth. Data streamed on a pull basis is usually cached by CDN servers and delivered to the end user using the most efficient delivery path required by UMP and RTMP. This would be an efficient method of streaming data to viewers without using extra upload bandwidth.

With the growing number of 3D and HD media, content providers are looking for a way to use the same technology used by managed services without sacrificing their upload bandwidth. This is where the Unreal Media Server (UMP) comes in.

While managed services are the easiest way to start streaming, they are not a long-term solution for a company or individual looking to start a streaming service. Managed services are a form of content delivery CDN. They work by using the content owner’s upload bandwidth. This is known as push-based technology.

The simplest way of setting up a live streaming platform is to use managed services. Popular streaming services such as TwitchTV and Justin TV offer managed services in the form of a webpage containing a video player that can be embedded into any website. These services are cost-effective and do not require a deep understanding of streaming technology. In order to set up a live stream, viewers simply visit the webpage and are connected to the stream hosted on the streaming service’s server.

To begin, a live streaming platform combines server technology with streaming service. It is divided into three stages: the capture stage, where audio and video data is captured; the encoding stage, where this data is compressed; and the delivery stage, where the data is sent to the user.

Setting up a live streaming platform with Unreal Engine

Integrating interactive features for viewers

Interactive features are a means to get the audience involved in the content, rather than merely observing. These can include simple polling type functions, Q&A style interactions between the viewers and the streamer, or more complex iteration like influencing part of the game happening on the stream. Having these tools available for streamers could potentially increase the appeal of their stream by giving the viewers a level of interaction with the content that isn’t available on other platforms. It also stands to help the streamer make decisions about what content to provide in the future. An example being a viewer poll on what game the streamer should play next. This can be taken further with the use of the Meta-Game feature where the viewers can use an in-stream currency to vote on in-game events by wagering the currency, with the outcome of the event being affected by the result of the wager. The most beneficial form of interaction for the streamer and Unreal Engine game developers as a whole would be to integrate the interactive features with the game itself. An example could be a stream viewer being able to place an in-stream purchased bounty on another player in the game. This would then be visible to the players in game and the streamer would reclaim a percentage of the bounty cost as a revenue stream. Reiterating on the image above, quality of service is of utmost importance for these features to be a success. If the in-game vote takes the viewers to an external or in-game web browser that has nothing to do with the game, it’s a death sentence for retention and viewer interest.

Ensuring smooth and high-quality live streaming experiences

When setting up Unreal Engine live streaming services, it is important to ensure that the live streaming platform is running at an optimal state with minimum interruption. This is crucial in retaining viewers as any interruptions to the live stream can result in a loss of viewership. In this day and age, the majority of end-users are well connected to the internet. But connection quality can vary depending upon the location and internet service provider with some still experiencing high latency to international servers. By utilizing Unreal Engine’s multiple platform support, a dedicated server can be set up for the live stream without affecting the game server. This is important as the live stream can be quite bandwidth intensive and by separating the game and stream, it ensures the game server performance remains optimal. This essentially lowers the bar for entry when providing a high quality live streaming experience where viewers can tune in watch without having to suffer latency issues that would usually occur if they were to connect to an international server. Another alternative to improve the stream quality is to look into using content delivery networks or ‘CDN’. This is a system that distributes the live stream data across the globe into multiple proxy servers so that data delivery to end-users is the most efficient. CDNs are designed to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance and are ideal for live streaming services. By using a CDN, data is served to viewers from a server that is closest to their location and will offer improved site and stream quality which is crucial when aiming to provide a reliable, high quality live stream experience.

Monetization options for live streaming services

Revenue can be generated by giving users an incentive to remain on the website or return at a later date. Affiliate programs can be used to advertise products and websites and would involve some agreement between the stream provider and another company where advertising content is shown during the stream. The advertising company would pay the stream provider based on the amount of traffic that was brought to their website via the live streaming service. In another scenario, the stream provider may be promoting his or her own product and the live stream is a platform to give it exposure.

Advertising is a common form of revenue, especially on the internet, and there are many ways this could be implemented for live streaming services. The simplest form would be to have advertising play before the stream starts, with the stream being inaccessible until the ad has finished. Static image ads could be placed within the stream that change periodically and can lead the user to be targeted to leave the stream and visit a particular website.

The option of pay-per-view streaming would be considered the most direct form of monetization. Users would be required to pay a fee to access the stream. Alternatively, a system could be set up where only certain content is restricted and a payment is required to access it. While again this is quite direct and easy to manage regarding content access based on payment, it should be noted that on the internet, users have always been quite resilient to paying money for content and often, if the alternative exists, they will simply seek similar content elsewhere and not have to pay for it.

The most central and biggest consideration for businesses or individuals that are considering the implementation of Unreal Engine live streaming service is the question of monetization. Ultimately, the usefulness and feasibility of a live streaming service will come down to the economic viability of its implementation and upkeep for the provider. We consider many facets of this topic below.

The Future of Unreal Engine Live Streaming Services

The future of Unreal Engine live streaming services has three components: emerging trends and technologies in live streaming, potential challenges that we may face in using these technologies, and possible solutions to these challenges, and opportunities for growth and expansion of the use of live streaming services in the field of 3D game creation. As the future of live streaming is closely related to the future of the internet, it is a very broad topic that I will attempt to summarize in this report. Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular today. Emerging trends and technologies indicate a movement from traditional client-server based architectures, and a move towards peer-to-peer (P2P) based solutions. One reason for this migration is that P2P based networks are often better at traversing NATs and firewalls because they can initiate a connection, whereas client-server connections are firewalled by default and require complex hole punching algorithms to make a connection. P2P networks can also scale more gracefully with the amount of users since the bandwidth is not all coming from a single server. Due to the potential cost savings, and the ability to provide better connections between users, we may see a large shift in the industry towards P2P based live streaming solutions. This has already been seen with the increasing prevalence of technologies such as Adobe’s Stratus, and Red5. These technologies are very new however, and still have some problems to work out. It is unsure if the future of live streaming definitively lies in P2P based solutions, but it is somewhat of a gamble that many companies are taking.

Emerging trends and technologies in live streaming

The technology behind live streaming is advancing at a rapid pace, which will undoubtedly have an effect on the gaming community. For instance, the development of 5G is poised to provide lower latencies on mobile devices, which will be most useful for mobile gamers hoping to stream their gameplay. More reliable and quicker internet connections are also a boon for anyone hoping to stream, however, other emerging technologies might have more dramatic impacts. For example, virtual reality is poised to vary how folks consume live streams. Most of this article has worried viewing live streams as a passive activity, however, virtual reality can turn into an immersive experience, with viewers feeling as if they are really present in the streamer’s world. This is very attractive for viewers, but it could also have a negative effect on the mental state of streamers, a subject that’s detailed recently by varied articles and videos. The gaming community continues to grow, and more folks can desire to turn to streaming to supplement their income. It’s important to stay aware of how these trends are changing the streaming business so as to be a successful streamer or to advertise effectively through streams. Even though many of the changes to streaming technology will have positive effects on the community, others could create new challenges. It’s vital for both viewers and streamers to stay mindful of how their technology is changing and to be aware of the effects that these changes may have.

Potential challenges and solutions

Potential challenges The main challenges of using a software development system may be: cost, time, expertise, and short-term disruption. Unreal Engine is providing free use of its software and only seeking royalties on commercially released products. For an individual or small business, this may still be too expensive for them to consider using it. Also, for smaller companies, time may be taken to be too long. Although games may result in higher quality at the end, a small increase in graphical quality may not be worth taking double the amount of time it previously took to create the game. In order to create a high-quality game using Unreal Engine, it is likely that you will need a team consisting of various game developing professionals (e.g., artists, programmers, sound engineers, etc.). The combined wages, added onto the royalties that have to be paid later on, could prove uneconomical. Only large gaming companies with high budgets could consider using Unreal Engine. Finally, due to the complexity of the engine, there may be a lot of initial shaking up and learning to do for employees. Short-term loss in productivity could prove damaging for any company.

Opportunities for growth and expansion

The gaming industry in Singapore is on the verge of a major revolution, and the live streaming of gameplay is going to be at the forefront of this movement. With major tech companies such as Google, Sony, and Nvidia setting up bases in Singapore, it will no doubt boost the local gaming industry and indirectly the live streaming of games. For example, Sony has even set up next-gen console development in Singapore, so it is only natural that their future consoles such as the PS5 will also involve games specifically developed in Singapore. Google has recently opened up a data center in Singapore targeting the smartphone and gaming market. These multinational giants will provide job opportunities for game developers, and this, in turn, will increase the quality and quantity of Singapore-made video games in the market. All of this translates to potentially more interesting games coming from Singapore and more opportunities to live stream such games. An interesting point to note is that currently, Singapore game developers have been successful with mobile games but have yet to make a significant mark in the PC or console gaming market. Live streaming may be the catalyst for Singapore-made PC or console games to gain popularity, both locally and internationally.

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