Article

Private Servers: How they’ve moulded the gaming industry

Damian Reed
26. February 2020
5 min

How do you make your next title successful?

What does success look like for a studio or developer? This question will provide a different answer almost every time it’s asked. Success could mean a sequel which is played more than its predecessor. Success could be that dream you had years ago coming to life in the form of a game. Success could be making games that you, as a player, want to play. Success could be as simple as just paying the bills. 

How do we become successful? Money? Heritage? Luck? It could be the result of any or all these things. But there is another factor – one you may not automatically think of when developing your next title.

Fans and community make a game successful

Every single game that has ever been successful in this modern era has had fans, a community: a select few who are devoted to your title and who play it over and over again. They talk about it on forums, they share tips, devise strategies, tweet about it, post on Instagram or Reddit, and they stream about it. They love your game and they aren’t afraid to critique it either. More and more these days, studios and developers are listening to their fans. Fans are moulding alphas and betas; through feedback they have influence over future patches, DLC and seasons. You may think that this is something new, something that we’ve only seen over the past few years – but you are wrong.

Minh Le, born Vietnam 1977 – who is also known by his online gamer name Gooseman – created a game that went on to be a global phenomenon and the biggest e-sport game of its time. Whilst at University he began working on a mod of Half-Life; as you know, mods are alterations made by players or fans of a video game that change one or more aspect of that video game. The game he made was called Half-Life: Counter-Strike. After several versions the rights were purchased by Valve, and the rest is history.

counter strike

PUBG is a game with a similar history, this time originating from ARMA 2. ARMA 2 was an open world military simulation and was quite popular. However, PUBG was not the first mod to come from ARMA 2: that was a game called DayZ. The player’s aim was to survive the zombie apocalypse in a fictional post-Soviet state, fighting zombies and other players for loot and food. Brendan Greene came along and developed a mod of his own (based on the DayZ mod) called DayZ: Battle Royale, which was inspired by the 2000 Japanese film of the same name. Eventually Brendan went on to develop his own standalone version of this game, and he also helped Sony by consulting on a game called H1Z1. Without DayZ and PUBG, there would be no Fortnite, Realm Royale or the countless other clones that have popped up over the last few years.

Without the likes of Minh Le, Brendan Green and Dean Hall (DayZ), the industry today would look very different. CSGO was the e-sports game of its time and helped put this sporting genre on the map. Arguably, PUBG elevated online gaming to another level – none of this would have been possible without private servers.

csgo esports

A private server is the ‘factor’ that you, as a developer, need to consider.

A private server is the ‘factor’ that you, as a developer, need to consider. Not only has the face of gaming changed due to them, but other games have flourished by allowing players to host their own environments. Communities can play together on private servers. Social influencers and YouTubers use them to play with their followers. Countless YouTubers use private servers to create individual content – this simply would not be possible without playing on a private server. Even the longevity of games can be increased with the aid of private servers, with players and gaming communities regularly playing and creating content together.

The question that should be on your lips as a developer, working on your next game, shouldn’t be why do I need private servers? – it should be why wouldn’t I need private servers?

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Damian Reed

I'm the evangelist at GPORTAL, where I am responsible for the written and video content of this site. I'm a massive gamer and an even bigger coffee drinker.

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