Private game servers are our legacy
GPORTAL attended the digital version of Devcom this year with a very clear goal – to talk about private game servers.
And yes whilst we did take the opportunity to speak about GPORTAL, we wanted to ensure as many attendees as possible knew the huge benefits private game servers bring to a game title.
So what did we talk about? Well sit down, make yourself comfortable, and let’s take you on a little ride.
We all know it, most of us have played it at some time – form its early beginnings in 2009, Minecraft has grown to become a game unparalleled by any other.
Minecraft is a force for several reasons – discoverability, creativity, survival, and freedom – though this game looks simplistic with it’s blocky form – at the heart it is extremely complex. Every block, can be destroyed, harvested, repurchased to the owner’s hearts content. It is what makes the game unique and still loved by millions today.
So yeah Damian – Minecraft’s a big deal – we knew that already, tell me something new!
Private game servers enhance 3 or it’s main core reasons why it’s such a compelling game to play. Discoverability, creativity, and freedom.
Part of playing online is meeting new people to have fun with and play with, but for every 1 great person you meet, there’s 50 idiots – who want to kill you, destroy what you’ve been working on and generally cause havoc – with a private game server players can control who they play with.
When private servers come into the equation, controlling who plays in your world is a simple thing, but a hugely important one!
My son has discovered YouTube for kids, and every day now (though he’s limited to one episode) he watches his favourite YouTuber, building new contraptions, playing games, creating weird and wonderful vehicles – and none of this world have been possible without a private game server. Just like my son’s favourite YouTuber, there are so many influencers out there now, with billions of views – all promoting new aspects of the game, many of which aren’t even possible with private game servers.
Want to visit Hogwarts and enter the chamber of secrets? You can – want to visit middle earth and do battle with other players against other guilds? You can – Want to fight walkers in the walking dead? You can Want to battle for the iron thrown in Westeros? You can
None of which could be possible without private game servers.
The other month I was looking into some of the best ranked Minecraft servers and one jumped out at me – my wife, both my kids, my parents, my niece, and my sister-in-law were all in complete ore of one particular server.
This one server had been in the works for over 5 years – it had a hierarchy of management and imagineers – there were dozens of people working on this one server every day to make a 1 to 1 scale of Disney World Florida, where we could visit Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and even Universal Studios!
We’d all been actually there the year previous and we huddled around my computer whilst we each went to our favourite park and even went on the rides!
None of which – you can guess it, would be possible without private game servers.
Ark: Survival Evolved
ARK: Survival Evolved was released on PC in August 2017 to a mixed reception. Though the game had been available via early access for two years, it still had its issues. During September 2017 the average player count was 43,690, whilst the peak for that month was 79,303 players.
This month the average player count is 87,738 players with a peak of 157,355 players and this is on steam, this is not taking into account Xbox, PlayStation and various other devices.
So, what has turned a game that received mixed/average reviews to the 6th most played game on Steam?
Apart from it being a cool survival game with freaking dinosaurs, Studio Wildcard (the developers) and the studio behind the game, have continued to develop it. Whilst some studios have a policy of releasing sequels or new titles every year, Studio Wildcard have stuck with Ark. The game has improved throughout that time, as they have listened to player feedback and have released several DLC expansion packs.
The genius move from Studio wildcard was the dev kit. To coincide with the release Studio wildcard had the foresight to know that this game would spike imagination, that players would want to build their own worlds, buildings and of course – dinosaurs.
GPORTAL ourselves are have even got involved with the building of a map called Fjordur – built by some of the communities best modders – we loved the project so much that we have helped financially for it to be finished – which it nearly is, here’s the trailer.
The best thing I believe about this project is that we are going to make the map available to any other private game server host! That’s what the private game server and modding communities are all about; we want to see game thrive, we want to see amazing mods, we want to see future games be a success too. We are all gamers at GPORTAL and we all want the best for this industry.
Communities are the driving force behind multiplayer experiences, this is something that is incredibly important to game studios – who really want their multiplayer experience to drive future sales of further titles, or seasons, or downloadable content and fuel that desire for players to keep returning day after day, week after week, month after month.
Private game servers can provide two type of communities that will help with your overall player count and these are perfect for fuelling that desire.
- Clans, groups, and clubs love private game servers. They can restrict who plays on their servers, how the game runs – often being able to manipulate loot, damage, day/night cycles, or racing tracks, weather, class of cars – the options are practically endless! This community will race against each other, fight each other, band together to fight enemies, create new worlds, currencies, lore, events – all of which drive a passion for a game, drive a hunger to a level that is simply not possible without a private game server.
- The second type of community are modders – now there are so many people in the industry today that started out modding, creating monsters, islands, worlds, creating new ways to play a game that had never been originally imagined by the game studio. Now mods come in all shapes and sizes and vary in quality, but consider this – you are a reasonably sized studio, who have spent the past two years slaving over a game release, your time and resources are not without limits, there is only so much you can do. Modders can take your game to the next level – I know of a number of studios who have embraced this, promoting mods of their game and even selecting some to become official mods – essentially free downloadable content. And whilst mods help further the development and evolution of a game title, they are also a community, who lean on each other for advice and expertise – who share their content and allow others to add even more – who enjoy downloading and playing these sometimes wacky extreme versions of a game. Modding communities, help keep a game fresh, and help keep a game alive.
The last time I checked, an Xbox, PlayStation, or gaming PC were not servers – yet there are still so many studios that utilise these devices to do some of the heavy lifting – which a game server should be doing.
Peer 2 peer is often the “go to” method for studios who are looking to orchestrate their multiplayer experience and the only reason – THE ONLY REASON – for this is cost. It’s not for players, it’s not for gaming experiences, it’s certainly not for the fidelity of connection between players.
Lag is a huge problem for peer 2 peer, as this solution relies on everyone having a good and stable internet connection and as you know that hardly ever happens.
Whether they can’t shoot a lagging player, or an opponent’s car keeps disappearing and reappearing in different places on a track – or the lobby crashes as they were the host. Peer 2 peer is not acceptable and the sooner game studios realise this, the better.
Dedicated game servers do the heavy lifting, freeing up player bandwidths, freeing up valuable resources on their hardware and providing a better, more consistent and secure connection – thus giving a better and more enjoyable player experience.
I shouldn’t need to tell you that having dedicated game servers provide the best online experience, the fact of the matter is they can be expensive and that is why so many game studios favour peer 2 peer – even though it diminishes player experiences resulting in less players playing online.
But there is an alternative – can you guess what it is?
Private game servers! Exactly the same as dedicated game servers but rented by players.
Where dedicated game servers cost money – private servers do not cost studios money, they save money – in fact they can actually make money.
Game Life Durability
The typical life of a video game looks like this
Peak player count upon or around release – this is where there is peak interest in the game, everyone is playing it – it’s the best thing since slice bread, you know the story.
Then a few months down the line, the player count has started to ease off – the initial peak is over and unless new content is released the older the game gets – the less players there are playing it.
When private game servers are added to the equation, you can see that games stay active – players have a better game experience, and you have clans, groups and clubs who keep returning to the game – tweeting about it, making Youtube videos about it and streaming about it.
However when you add the modding community to a game with private servers – on so many occasions you see the complete opposite to the typical life if a video game – the fresh new content they are continuously making – drives players to return and even brings in more players – increasing player counts – I’ve seen player counts sometimes double.
Therefore, private game servers should be part of your development road map and why I strongly recommend that you support modding too.