Secure Digital Content Delivery: Game On!

Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts (EA), a leading global interactive entertainment software company, set out to build what he calls a “player-first” culture. This initiative, with its laser focus on the player’s gaming experience, has yielded huge benefits for the company, as well as delighted over 300 million registered players worldwide.

The success of EA’s player-first culture, Wilson says, depends on how well “we parlay our knowledge, experience, and dedication to the player into the future.”(1) The Nuxeo Platform helps EA accomplish this by providing their developers with secure, reliable access to video game builds, while expediting EA’s time-to-market for new games.

By far, new game builds are the company’s most valuable assets and critical to the company’s ongoing success. At any given moment, about 70 different global teams are working on multiple game builds in various stages of the development lifecycle. Game builds have also become more complex; according to EA, an average game build is 18GB—more than double the size for previous-generation consoles—and a team working on a single game now generates 3.5 terabytes worth of builds in a year.

All of these game builds must be readily accessible to those who should be working with them, and to no one else. This critical and complex responsibility belongs to EA’s Release and Preservation Management (RPM) team, led by Steve Scivally, RPM Director.

When EA’s custom-built internal application for secure game build delivery had become outdated and was unable to scale further, EA’s RPM team reviewed a wide variety of replacement options, ranging from MS SharePoint and Oracle to open source and self-programming options. That review led EA to select the Nuxeo Platform as the best application development option to securely and effectively distribute its game builds around the world.

The RPM team concluded that the Nuxeo Platform went above and beyond other evaluated solutions to provide some critical benefits, including:

  • Support for an agile development and release model, capable of keeping up with EA’s fast-moving, concurrent development activities.
  • Accelerated development while reducing required time and resources. With Nuxeo, the RPM team does not have to build basic components. Nuxeo Studio, the online customization tool, maximizes application configuration while minimizing the need for custom coding, greatly reducing time and resource requirements.
  • Freely defining “content” to match the business context. Document management tools typically have rigidly-defined electronic “documents (files),” “folders,” and “cabinets.” In contrast, the Nuxeo Platform provides a schema-flexible content model that allows developers to define virtually limitless custom content objects, with flexible metadata and complex fields, to match the organization’s needs.

The RPM group built its first Nuxeo-powered application, Shift, named after its goal to simplify the shifting of content around EA. Steve Scivally told us “the Nuxeo Platform enabled us to build our application to manage video game builds in seven months versus an estimated 12-13 months for a solution developed in-house. We accelerated our time to deployment by nearly 50%.”

Shift is currently in production and actively used by 600 to 800 unique users per day, including EA’s development, certification and release management, QA, and testing teams around the world.

When a new game build is done, it is submitted automatically into Shift using an automation tool. For example, when EA’s Stockholm location creates a new build for Battlefield, custom metadata fields are automatically populated in Shift, including information relating to access controls and the locations of the build content: source code, artwork, and audio assets.

Upon validation, Nuxeo retains the information provided in a custom document type (content object) for that build, with a lifecycle status indicating it is availablefor access. Notifications are then automatically sent to everyone involved in the process.

With the new game build now accessible for updating and testing by other authorized teams, approved developers submit a request for the build content which is transferred to the destination and delivered directly to the requestor, typically via download to a console or PC.

Nuxeo enforces all game build access controls and provides fine-grained security down to the metadata level. For example, only QA teams can update the lifecycle state of a game build from alpha to beta, pre-production and, eventually, final release of the game. If a developer needs access to a game build but does not have security permission, a Nuxeo workflow allows the person to submit an access request for approval or denial by the manager. Finally, a detailed audit history for each game build is maintained, logging all user activity, such as when a build was checked in or out and by whom, and any modification of permissions.

Most recently, EA’s RPM group has deployed a second Nuxeo-powered application called Vintage, for managing released game titles archived for preservation. Far more than cold storage of EA’s released games, Vintage is a new potential key resource to further enable EA’s development teams to reshape existing game code for a quick and efficient head start on new development.

EA’s RPM team tells us their Nuxeo-powered applications are more mission-critical to the company’s success than ever. By securely and efficiently delivering, tracking, and managing new game builds, Nuxeo helps EA’s development teams make the most of their knowledge, experience, and dedication to provide an exceptional “player-first” gaming experience.

(1)Source: FastCompany.com Innovation Agents feature, Nov. 7, 2014.

Nuxeo provides an extensible and modular Enterprise Content Management platform that enables software architects and developers to easily build and run business applications. Phone: 888-882-0969, contact@nuxeo.com, www.nuxeo.com.

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