Computing is the most innovative industry of our time and one of the fastest advancing sectors is gaming. 20 years ago, things like virtual reality and gaming celebrities that are now the norm were unimaginable while keen players were enjoying revelations such as Half Life and Counter Strike. Imagine where we might be in another 20 years. Half Life 3 perhaps?
With all the advancements made in the gaming industry, one part has not been keeping up: server hosting.
The past 5 to 7 years have seen enormous shifts in the ways that companies go about their cloud hosting, databases and file storage. The age of purchasing or renting server hardware long term has ended for most. In the same time, we have seen the explosion in popularity for services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure and Google cloud. So, this raises the question, why has server hosting in the gaming industry not kept up? This is the question we set out to answer when we first had the idea for ServerFlex in 2017.
There are countless generic game server hosting services available on the market: MCProHosting, Nodecraft and Nitrous Networks to name a few. Services such as these all have one thing in common; off-the-shelf, antiquated deployment and hosting technology. The philosophy behind these services is to combine existing technology with the cheapest servers possible, add a flashy website and hit the market as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this has led to nothing but stagnation in the industry. Enter ServerFlex.
Shortly, ServerFlex will be launching! After over 6 months of full time development and over 2 years defining our vision, we know this is going to be a game changer (pun intended). ServerFlex takes simple pay-per-hour billing models (like those provided by AWS) and combines them with the ease of setup seen with services like the aforementioned MCProHosting. We call it a Crate.
Arguably our most impressive and important feature is our open API. Large gaming communities have even larger server requirements to allow thousands of players to use their services all at the same time. How do you keep up with demand? With ServerFlex, that’s how. Automatic, sub-ten-second server deployment with guaranteed availability all through the open API. The requirement to host massive servers 24/7 is a thing of the past. Let’s look at some use cases.
Alex and Steve would like to start a Minecraft community with a primary creative mode server and a couple of mini game servers. Currently, they would have to host as many as 3 servers 24/7 regardless of whether the mini games are currently in use.
With ServerFlex, the primary creative mode server would act as a kind of lobby for the mini games. Only when enough players have agreed to participate in a mini game would you send a request to our open API instructing our servers to boot the profile for your mini game. In under 10 seconds your Crate will be ready, an IP address returned via the API and your players transferred to the new instance. What’s more, you will only be charged per hour of uptime for in-use servers meaning that your mini games cost fractions of a penny.
Gaming communities are only a small portion of the game hosting market. The rest are everyday players looking to unwind with their friends after work, school or college.
Tenderizer, Workhorse, Barber and Colonel would like to play Counter Strike: Global Offensive for a few hours. Normally, they would need to purchase a month-long package from a traditional hosting company or, if technical enough, deploy an AWS instance and do all the setup themselves. Neither are great options, and neither are fun options.
With ServerFlex, they can deploy a pre-configured CS:GO Crate from the ServerFlex console in seconds. Share the IP address and you’re gaming in minutes! To make a good situation even better, when they’re finished playing, the Crate can be shut down and they will be billed a fraction of what either of our previous solutions would cost.
To conclude, I would like to quote Albert Einstein: "You can't solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level."
BattleCrate rethinks the game hosting industry to allow it to catch up with the rest of the computing industry. It’s not a question of when this new hosting method is going to flourish, but when.