Bad servers of any sort are a struggle. The servers crash, kick you, always have too many people…
Steam had a panel in 2016 about the importance of hosting controlled game servers rather than letting the players host their own. There were representatives from Valve, EA, Daybreak, Stunlock, and Bankroll, all companies that create or host games. Each of these companies found that hosting their own servers was more beneficial than leaving it to the players, for various reasons. They agreed that it was better for the players to have a controlled and optimal server hosted for them.
Game Server Quality
One of the most important things about a server is its quality, which is mostly controlled by the server occupancy limitation. In order to control this, a lot of servers will have a limit on them, ensuring the server is never past its optimal capacity. If a server has too many people on it it will be unable to function optimally, and sometimes cannot function properly at all. Overcrowded game servers are slow and hindered, and most games have too many features for them to be able to run smoothly with that many people. It is hard to manage a server if it’s overcrowded. It will take longer to kick people to clean out or update the server itself, which brings us to the next part of server quality and functionality: maintenance.
Game Server Maintenance
Every server must undergo maintenance, usually once a week or so, but it depends on the server, size, and the complexity and popularity of the game. Server maintenance can include many tasks, but the two that affect quality the most are updating/fixing the server and cleaning it out. Cleaning out the server ensures that the population of a server is ever-changing, and therefore always interesting and new. Server fixing or updating is often done to ensure the server is running as best it can be with the growth and development of a game and its community. These things help to ensure a server doesn’t crash, which is frustrating for both players and the company. Server maintenance takes time and it is unfortunate and frustrating on both ends when it needs to be done and they are unprepared for it or not expecting it.
Renting or Hosting Game Servers
There are many ways to get your hands on a game server, and it is easiest to do so in Europe and America. However, different ways are better for different situations. Some game companies choose to rent a server due to budget retraints, but this makes server maintenance take significantly longer because they have to reach out to the server host for maintenance every time the server crashes. Then they wait for the host to get around to it. EA, in particular, mentioned that they do not host their own servers because they believe their crew would be better positioned somewhere else. However, that seems like a poor reason considering they could hire a crew specifically for the servers. It’s optimal for a game company to be able to host their own servers if there are enough players to make it worth the time and money. It minimizes confusion, maximizes efficiency, and ensures maintenance and fixes can be done immediately by a specialized crew. However, the renting option is there for smaller communities and less successful games. Renting a server can get you started.
Getting a Game Server
Some games prefer to let the community host their own servers, which is often unsuccessful. Often, maintenance is not performed enough, the server is usually overcrowded, and the range of the server is not respected. These types of servers grow stale because they are slow and the populations are static. Plus, they crash often and easily. Players like to try and go into servers that are outside of their optimal range, making it perform poorly. Also, they are occupying space someone else in that region could be using. Many controlled servers will kick people off of a server if their network performance levels are under a certain threshold simply to maintain this problem. Game servers will also try to automatically place players in the correct server, disregarding any preferences the user may have.
Hosting Your Own Game Server
Many people wish to host their own game servers because they are unhappy with the company-controlled ones. However, the quality of the company servers will often be the best option due to the various factors the professionals take into account and the skill levels they have. It’s unlikely that player-hosted servers will be done by professionals. This is why when games become more popular and complex, the companies host their own servers to avoid the networking prohibiting the other aspects of the game to shine.
If you’re considering hosting a game server, think about how much time and money you are willing to put into it. It is not an easy or cheap undertaking.
Do you or have you hosted a game server?