Game Server Hosting is an expensive task but the good thing in this is that not every player needs to do it. There are dedicated teams and companies who invest and develop their game servers. They develop the infrastructure for game servers and host multiple games on them. Then they offer the players to play the games on them with nominal charges or even for free for some games which mostly are the demo versions. But many full version games may also be offered free of cost to attract more traffic and popularity to the server. The companies who develop the infrastructure of game servers are usually known as “Game Server Providers” (GSPs). Many Game Server Providers host their own games on their own setup of game servers but many others offer their game servers on lease rental basis to other companies who can host their games on it. Many companies lease their game servers out for a monthly (or on other regular intervals of time) fee.
The groups of the players who want to play some games online would often lease one or even multiple game servers for their chosen games. These groups of players who play online games together are usually known as “Gaming Clans” or simply “Clans”. The members of the clan often contribute to the fees of leasing the game server to play online games of their interests. The fees can be as high as hundreds of dollars and can be divided into the members of the gaming clan depending on the authorities of respective members.
The game server providers often offer many game titles, primarily in the first person shooter genre. They often offer Web tools to help control and configure different allowable settings of the game servers and most of them allow those that rent or lease to modify the games being leased.
Complexities in Game Server Hosting
Game Server Hosting is not as simple as to install some high end computers and connecting them to Internet. Online gaming service providers compete in a crowded industry with enormous business potential. Being a leading service provider requires not just first class gaming content but also highly capable IT infrastructure, flexible software, back end software systems and constant alignment with worldwide regulations. The game servers need extremely fast performance, highest throughput to render heavy computations on graphical, visual and audio data, capability to serve large traffic needs, and utmost reliability against crashes in loaded states. Game Servers need high configuration parameters on both server and client sides to provide full excitement of play and giving a real time gaming feel.
The game servers need to operate day and night without interruption. To ensure this, they need very efficient support systems. This needs an uninterrupted and non fluctuating power supply to the servers. A continuous air conditioning, and temperature and humidity control around them is a necessary requirement for long life and effective working of these servers. The game servers need to maintain regular back ups to store the data of different players for different games. They may need to record the highest scores, fastest scores, game levels, and even the personalized settings of different players who use them. Game servers are required to be supported with quick restore services to recover from a disaster of system crash or connection failures.
Game servers need strong protections against online viruses, mail-wares, and other data security threats. They need protections with the most intelligent firewalls that may block all unauthorized and non required connections to it yet allowing its users and players to get quick, easy and uninterrupted access through Internet connections.
Different Types of Game Servers
Based on their complexity of setup, ownerships and different features, the Game servers can be classified as listen game servers and dedicated game servers.
Listen Game Servers
One of the easiest but extremely limited way of Game Server Hosting comes to its way by the fact that it is possible for an Internet or a network user as a gaming client to establish its own game server on its own computer, the personal computer that it uses for its general computer works and gaming too. This technique is more technically known as “Listen Game Server” or simply “Listen Server”.
Listen server refers to a situation in which the game server conceptually runs in the same process as the game client, and it allows a player to both host and participate in the game. In simpler meanings, the listen servers are run on the same machine as the game client.
As the listen servers are established usually on high end home computers, they are very limited in their capacities and capabilities. They offer very limited number of players to get connect to the group and play with them. They cannot support larger number of players due to limited bandwidth and small CPU cycles availabilities. This is the main reason behind the fact that the games running on the listen server typically limits the number of players.
Another limitations of the listen servers comes to its way because of the fact that the server and host client are run together on the same machine. Due to this, the server is shut down whenever the client disconnects or gets disconnected due to any reasons. The server is usually terminated when the client is finished. Listen servers are operated mostly by individuals, often in locally established network with the local group of players rather than over the Internet, and usually with a lower number of players due to the increased processing and bandwidth requirements associated with operating both server and client simultaneously on the same machine.
Other than listen servers, the option is to establish a dedicated machine for hosting games and allowing the players to connect and play. This concept is known as the Dedicated Game Server or simply Dedicated Server.
Dedicated servers are set up on a separate machine dedicated to host online games. They are usually hosted in a bigger data center and are enabled with special high end features. They can be expected to have higher bandwidth and do not have to share CPU with the games of the clients. In general, dedicated servers are more preferable for large game servers and/or 24 X 7 up time.
Dedicated server is not established on home computer of any player or personnel. Rather, there are many medium or large scale companies who are running in the business of providing dedicated servers to online game players. These companies are known as Game Server Provides (GSPs). These GSPs put all the needed investments and efforts to establish the infrastructure of a dedicated games server and them offer these dedicated servers on lease.
Dedicated servers are used by Game Server Providers to host individual game servers or Massively multiplayer online games. In general Massively multiplayer online games are all run on dedicated servers. These games are usually hosted by the software company that developed and owns the game title, as this allows them to control and update content and also protects their credits of creativities. In many cases they are run on clustered servers to allow for huge environments and large player counts.
Because a dedicated server can be put aside for use solely as a game server it offers numerous advantages over the use of anyone’s home computer. As they are usually established by professional GSPs, dedicated game servers are equipped with most of the high end features like highly efficient CPU, significantly large and faster internal RAM, more cache memory, faster peripheral supports, instantly responding I/O ports, uninterrupted power supply, heavy duty back-up supports, temperature and humidity controls, protection against virus and other security threats, and support of special software to enable several other overwhelming services to its customers.
Most of the GSPs also provide its customers with round the clock customer care support of technical and administrative staff to help them in different troubles related to their connections to the serve, access to a game, personalized settings, and even billing and membership upgrades.
Another classification of Game Servers
The listen server and dedicated server were the classification of the game servers based on their level of establishment and use. Another base of classification of game servers can be their centralization of hosting, based on which they can be classified as Centralized Game Servers and Distributed Game Servers.
Centralized Game Server
Massive multiplayer games generally use a centralized server where the games are hosted on a centralized game server which is highly efficient and reliable. This is because the virtual world where the game takes place needs to continue evolving and living 24 hours a day, 7 days a week regardless of whether any single player is still online. Generally gamers download and then use client software in order to access the virtual world, or server. For this type of game, usually offered by very large companies or organizations, the most important aspect is stability. Should the game server crash unexpectedly then players will lose faith and stop playing the game. Even if none of the information is lost it is still annoying to have to keep logging back into the game.
Smaller organizations or games that do not demand this always-on style of existence can instead use a distributed server model. Numerous servers are offered to gamers, who choose one and play against other human opponents. Once the game is completed the server is not required until another game is to be played. In some cases all of the servers need to be connected in order that they can transmit game data between themselves. However, the single most important factor is connection speed and ping time. This ensures that all gamers connected to the server can transmit and receive data quickly and smoothly.
Advantages of the game servers
Game servers allows the players to connect to the lobby of the people having interests in similar or even the same games and in fact also allow them to play with each others with connection to the common game server. Where the general home computer can give up in crashing due to continuous and rigorous use for long periods of time, the game servers allow to play uninterrupted for many hours. Buying all exciting games with high end functionalities can never be as cheap as to get access to them on game servers through Internet connections. Moreover, playing these exciting games with other people over Internet adds it own excitements. Playing a game on some personal computer and scoring higher than any previous personal score definitely excites and give a feel of achievement but this can never beat the feel of achievement by playing the same game with people from all over the globe and beating the scores of experts across the world. Resetting or formatting the home computer can make player to lose all its scores, data and settings of the games. Even the entire game could be lost unrecoverable in the case when the installation media of the game is lost or damaged. But this is not the case to worry about with the game servers.
Game Servers are usually provided with efficient backup and recovery supports which will save all or most of your games data and settings in case of crash or any other disaster. The performance of a game server has no match with a home computer and is far better to give a real time playing effect. The home computers cannot allow as many players at a time as a game server can. Game Servers, being a dedicated service to game players, keep updating their offerings with latest versions of the games and also with the newly launched games.