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Why New Relic

Tracks the entire lifecycle of API requests for holistic insight into app performance

Highlights
  • Only New Relic offers insight at the holistic level, monitoring entire lifecycle of an API request – end-to end visibility into performance
  • New Relic dashboard, database level reporting and error reporting are essential to Scopely performance management
  • Scalability is critical to Scopely and New Relic helps ensure the gaming company has the headroom needed to accommodate traffic spikes

Scopely Drives Revenue by Reducing API Response Time with Help from New Relic

Founded in 2011, Scopely co-develops and publishes multiplayer mobile social applications. The company aims to be ‘the HBO of mobile gaming,’ collaborating with top developers to create, distribute, and monetize mobile game franchises for millions of active users.

To date, Scopely has raised $8.5 million in seed financing with support from A-list investors, including Anthem Venture Partners, The Chernin Group, Greycroft Venture Partners and New Enterprise Associates.

Challenges

Scopely is on the fast track. In just two years, the company has released four live games on iOS and two on Android, and has several more in development. “At first, it took us six months to release just one game,” says Ankur Bulsara, Co-Founder and CTO at Scopely. “Now it takes us about three months and we’re collaborating with more partners to build more games in parallel.”

With each new game, Scopely hopes to increase its market share by grabbing the attention of new audiences. “Ideally, our games shouldn’t be competing with each other for the exact same pool of end users,” says Bulsara. “Each game has a slightly different core audience, so we increase our user base with every release. A larger network of non-competing users translates into higher revenue.”

It also translates into heavier traffic. With the popularity of Scopely’s newest releases, Bulsara’s team is handling nearly two billion API requests per week. “Mini Golf MatchUp became the top free game in the iOS Store almost literally overnight,” he says. “That level of popularity is awesome. But it also means we need to be extra-vigilant in maintaining the performance of our applications.”

“Let’s say a user is waiting for the doctor and she has two minutes to spare, so she decides to play a couple of turns on her smartphone. The faster our system responds, the more turns she can play, the more push notifications go out and the more ads we can show. That, of course, means more revenue. In other words, we have a very strong incentive to cut our API response time — and New Relic plays a big role in helping us achieve that.”

Ankur Bulsara Co-Founder and CTO, Scopely

Solution

Scopely has been using New Relic since the beginning. In the company’s first few months of existence, Scopely focused on developing Facebook apps in PHP. And New Relic was there to help optimize performance. “One of our first Facebook apps attracted seven million monthly active users,” says Bulsara. “I credit New Relic with making some of that growth possible, because it helped us identify and address critical bottlenecks in our database.”

A few months later, when Scopely transitioned to a mobile gaming model and began using C# and .NET on the backend, Bulsara knew that he wanted to stick with a tried-and-true solution for monitoring apps. “For me, New Relic has always been a no-brainer,” he says. “I can’t think of any reason why we wouldn’t use it. It just works.”

New Relic is currently installed across Scopely’s backend infrastructure, enabling developers to identify slow queries and other issues before users even know anything’s wrong. “New Relic offers insight at the holistic level,” says Bulsara. “It can monitor the entire lifecycle of an API request. Other solutions monitor various components in isolation, but only New Relic gives us end-to-end visibility.”

Of all the features available in New Relic, Bulsara finds three especially useful:

  • The New Relic dashboard. The Scopely team can see the throughput, response time and Apdex Score for their entire environment in a single view. “All of our key health metrics are on one screen,” says Bulsara. “I can’t stress how helpful that is in maintaining optimal app performance.”
  • Database-level reporting. “Database optimization has always been a New Relic strength,” he says. “We’re currently transitioning our data store from MySQL to DynamoDB, so we’re really grateful for the insight New Relic provides on a day-to-day basis.”
  • Error reporting. “If a mobile client makes an unsuccessful API request, New Relic will log the request as an error, then issue an alert if the error crosses a given threshold,” says Bulsara. “That way, we can start addressing problems before they’re really even problems.”

“New Relic offers insight at the holistic level. It can monitor the entire lifecycle of an API request. Other solutions monitor various components in isolation, but only New Relic gives me end-to-end visibility.”

Ankur Bulsara Co-Founder and CTO, Scopely

Results

New Relic helps Scopely drive revenue by proactively identifying issues in production. “When people play mobile games, they often have just a little bit of free time,” says Bulsara. “Let’s say a user is waiting for the doctor, and she has two minutes to spare, so she decides to play a couple of turns on her iPhone. The faster our system responds, the more turns she can play, the more push notifications go out and the more ads we can show. That, of course, means more revenue. In other words, we have a very strong incentive to cut our API response time — and New Relic plays a big role in helping us achieve that.”

With New Relic, Scopely is better equipped to meet massive spikes in user demand. When Mini Golf MatchUp hit number-one in the iOS Store,Scopely’s traffic doubled in a matter of days. “Our central database started to exhibit scaling issues right away,” says Bulsara. “The database report in New Relic showed that we were experiencing high CPU load, so we decided to alleviate that issue by reducing high-throughput queries. Then it was just a matter of sorting the New Relic report to isolate the queries with the highest throughput — and that became our to-do list.”

With Scopely’s games getting more and more attention from Google and Apple, scalability is especially important. “Several of our games have been featured in the Android and iOS Stores,” says Bulsara. “Each time that happens, we gain hundreds of thousands of new users in a short amount of time. New Relic helps ensure that we always have the headroom necessary to accommodate those spikes in traffic.” New Relic also makes it easier for Bulsara and his team to roll out new features. “We’ll send a small group of users into our staging environment, then look at the error reporting for those users in New Relic,” he says. “We can see right away if our build needs more work, then we adjust accordingly. We’re more agile. We fly faster and looser.”

In the end, Bulsara sums up the value of New Relic with a single word. “Dependable,” he says. “We trust New Relic. If this software says that our application is in good shape, we believe it. Or to put it another way: if New Relic ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

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