Whether you’re making a massive RPG with a vast landscape, a base-building simulator, a shooter with intense aerial combat, or the next party game sensation, you need to make sure your game is prepared for a successful launch and that you can manage its growth as the player count increases. Popular games like ARK: Survival, Team Fortress, Conan Exiles, and Fortnite all have one thing in common: huge numbers of gamers around the world want to play online around the clock. If you’re planning on making a game with that kind of global popularity, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your servers can handle it and that your systems are secure.
Traditionally, game developers had a significantly different job depending on whether they were making a single-player game or a primarily multiplayer one. These days, the line has begun to blur more and more with games like Ubisoft’s The Division requiring players to always be connected to the internet even when playing alone. Game companies need to prepare more than ever to ensure their games are online ready, and as the explosion of popularity for Among Us has shown, a game can go from obscurity to the most popular game on Steam in an instant. Here are some ways to handle the rapid growth of your game.
Naturally, no online game can function without reliable game servers, and making sure your servers are stable throughout the life of your game is one of the most important things you need to do. After all, if the servers are down, no one can play. While it’s true that a small percentage of your player base may rely on their own local networks, the majority of players will be logging into your servers. Fall Guys was another breakout success this year that wildly exceeded expectations (likely due in large part to it being free for Playstation Plus members on the PS4 console), but frequent server issues plagued the game’s launch and no doubt led to a great deal of payer frustration.
The best way to avoid such issues is to invest in dedicated servers. Not only are dedicated servers better at handling large amounts of traffic with low latency compared to shared hosting options, but they also boast better security for your game and customer information. Dedicated servers also typically come with protection against DDoS attacks, which can be unfortunately common against game companies. Finally, they give you better scalability options for when your player base grows, especially if you opt for a cloud service that has near limitless infrastructure.
An IP address (internet protocol) is a unique identifier for each device that connects to the internet. IPv4 is the fourth version of the protocol, and while it’s set to be replaced by IPv6, we just aren’t there yet. Most of the world’s internet traffic is still routed via IPv4 addresses, and while around 4.3 billion of these addresses are usable, we’re simply running out of IPv4 address space these days since most people are using multiple devices, not to mention the communications between devices thanks to the Internet of Things.
It’s advisable to buy IP addresses to ensure your network stays private and that you won’t have to share IP blocks with any other business. You also don’t have to rely on an ISP to keep your network secure since buying your own IPv4 address blocks puts you in direct control. If there ever comes a time when you no longer need your address blocks, you can even sell them for a profit.
With new games and DLCs constantly launching, gamers are known to be fickle, so you’ll need to provide reasons for them to stick around if you want your game to keep growing. Many multiplayer games have taken to launching “seasons” with new content introduced in each one. If you don’t want to stick to a seasonal schedule, you’ll at least need to plan some sort of expansions for new content as players reach your end game. Without ongoing support, your rapid growth can turn into player apathy just as quickly.