Welcome to the first article in a short series of blog posts that deal with certain aspects of hosting for the online gaming industry. In this first installment, we will discuss the need for maximum uptime – one of the most critical elements to the success of online games – through reliable hosting.
Online gaming has taken off like no other market in the gaming industry. Long gone are the years of 56k modems (and the static noise they make when logging in). Thanks to the prevalence of high speed home internet connections, the gamers in the family, which now includes everyone from kids to grandmothers, meet online with millions of other players around the world to play Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games.
MMO games hold a powerful sway over those who play them. Players spend weeks, months, even years honing the skills of their avatars or climbing the ranks of leaderboards. With such a heavy investment, it’s understandable that the moment an online game is not available, players get frustrated. To illustrate: here is a nearly 7 minute monologue from a MMO player about an offline game server:
Bad word-of-mouth like this spreads like wildfire among the gaming communities. If data gets corrupted (with players losing their hard earned items or ranks in the process), the attractiveness of the game sinks even lower. Worst case scenario: your players leave permanently. If this affects enough people, it might even get picked up by the mainstream press.
It’s safe to say that downtime directly translates into loss of revenue. But what can gaming professionals do to minimize downtime? A big part of this comes down to choosing a reliable hosting provider with the right infrastructure. Keep the following in mind when choosing a location for your servers:
- MMO games work better in a dedicated environment: You need guaranteed performance to run MMO servers reliably. Dedicated servers provide you with just that, giving you access to all their resources. In addition, these servers often have multi-CPU and multithreading capabilities, which most game server software can benefit from.
- Use quality hardware: It seems like a given, but it’s important nonetheless. By using only high quality hardware you will have fewer instances of the server physically breaking down. A good hosting provider also keeps a stock of replacement parts (or even complete servers!) to ensure fast repairs.
- Take care of redundancy: Even after having eliminated nearly every possible risk, there is always a chance that your servers go offline unexpectedly. In such cases, having a backup environment lets your players continue their gaming session while you’re working with your provider to solve the problem.
- Have a hosting provider with 24/7 support and server monitoring: Online games should be playable around the clock, all over the world. But you (and your co-workers) will have to sleep at least some time. Having a hosting provider with 24/7 support and monitoring services means you can rest comfortably, knowing that your servers are running smoothly.
There are many aspects to consider when choosing a hosting provider for your online gaming business, but this should provide you with a good introduction on one of the most important points: reliability. Of course, we’d be happy to discuss this in more detail with you. LeaseWeb has several consultants that specialize in hosting solutions for online games. Paul (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Larry (email@example.com) will attend GameConnection Europe this December, so drop by booth #220 to speak to them. Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more.
Are you going to GameConnection too? Let us know by dropping a line in the comment section below or tweeting (@LeaseWeb) us!
That’s it for this week. In our follow up next week, we’ll discuss the basics of connectivity specifically for the gaming industry.
The complete ‘It’s all in the game’ blog series: