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Insiders Portal Refactor for Skybound Entertainment


Insiders by Skybound is a marketing program that provides gamers with exclusive content, products, and discounts for their favorite titles. The company’s previous platform, built in PHP by an offshore team, connects user accounts across WordPress, Shopify, Freshdesk, Xbox, Steam, and Twitch. The system also provides an area where Skybound employees can perform administrative tasks to manage the program’s success. As part of Skybound’s initiative to migrate from Rackspace to AWS and to reignite the Insiders program, it was determined the system should be refactored.


The code that comprised Insiders by Skybound was “a spider web from hell”, according to Tragic’s overlord of engineering Todd Budzinski. It was the epitome of technical debt. To give you an idea, code was “shotgunned” across 6 web servers, a SQL server, and a Dynamo database haphazardly. Files used inconsistent naming conventions in place of actual version control. And iterative modifications were made in files without removing old code. Discovery on the system was a nightmare, especially with the lack of a staging environment or dependable documentation. We were tasked with refactoring the platform under an aggressive timeline; the system had to be up and running for the new year.


The solution leverages Laravel, a modern PHP application framework, deployed on Kubernetes. We also brought several disparate systems together into a single central codebase – resulting in better access, easier maintainability, and higher scalability. We updated the design to provide a more modern brand experience optimized across all device types. More specifically, we:

  • Rebuilt single sign on (SSO) solutions for WordPress + Freshdesk + Shopify including customer account functionality
  • Containerized code with Docker and launched on Amazon’s EKS service

  • Rebuilt Skybound admin tools
  • Rebuilt APIs that support Game Integrations (Xbox, Steam)
  • Rebuilt event processes to sync data to reporting databases
  • Designed an updated user account portal, focusing on an optimized mobile experience
  • Migrated email marketing integration from Sendgrid to Sendlane
  • Migrated transactional emails from Sendgrid to AWS Simple Email Service


An open source PHP framework designed for rapid prototyping.

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Amazon Web Services offers reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services.

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The most important outcome was re-architecting a stable system previously held together by duct tape. It was not scalable, adaptable, broke often, and would have been an enormous risk (and lift) to migrate to AWS. The new system leverages industry best practices and is modular and performant. Thanks to Docker, Kubernetes, and AWS, it’s highly scalable. The Skybound team now has the infrastructure needed to meet their ambitious goals for Insiders.

The previous system was patched together and had to constantly be monitored. Now, the new system allows Skybound to reimagine the Insider platform without starting from scratch.

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