Most people when referring to a game server are talking about a virtual management system that handles the rules in a multiplayer game. Sometimes though they may be referring to a physical entity, this would essentially be a virtual game server (as mentioned before) that takes up a whole dedicated computer (or “server”).
Almost every multiplayer game will have some form of dedicated server required to manage the rules of the game between the players connected. Relying on a client to manage the rules of the game could lead to all sorts of issues, like easier cheating and lagging of speed.
Some game servers are persistent, this means that they are continually run without stopping. This is usually the case for sandbox games like Minecraft and Ark: Survival Evolved where the world never stops. Games like Counter Strike would not be persistent as they go in “rounds” several times an hour.
Type of Servers
If you are looking for a game server for yourself and/or friends to connect to then you will have some options to choose from.
A lot of games allow you to self host, so by that I mean you can run a copy of the game server software on your own machine and connect as a client to it as well.
This presents a whole host of problems to both you and the other players that want to play on it such as:
- Speed – you will find that the game server as well as your gaming client are both slowed down by the added stress to your computer. Other players are going to also find that their experience is less enjoyable than if you invested in a dedicated game server.
- Connectivity – if you are able to acquire an external IP address from your internet service provider (this usually costs a little extra each month on your bill) you are then going to have to set it up at your router level. This can be an issue even for the technically minded among us.
- Lag – your domestic internet is not set up for large and fast uploads, meaning the other players requesting info from my our locally hosted game server are going to experience lag. Your ISP may even punish you for pushing the upload harder and restrict your download.
- Electricity – another major issue would be that you need to run your computer 24/7 if you want your friends on the server to be able to connect to it even when you are not playing but they may be.
If you have a large number of friends and/or don’t mind paying money for your own hardware for your game server then you could rent a dedicated server. Companies rent out whole machines in data centres all around the world for a fixed monthly fee that you can then install a game server on.
The benefits of this would be that you get access to resources as and when you need them with no other virtual games servers potentially sapping power away.
The downside to this is unfortunately:
The cost – you are looking at at least $100/month for Windows based dedicated hosting
- The support – you will be able to get help from the company leasing you the machine for hardware issues but nothing related to your game
- Setup time – unless you are experienced in setting up a game server then chances are you could find yourself losing hours and hours to this process
- Maintenance – you will have to do maintenance yourself and ensure you keep checking for problems and be able to fix them to reduce uptime
Shared Game Server Hosting
The happy medium between the two previous methods of starting your own game server is shared game server hosting.
With this method you can take advantage of systems already put in place by game server hosting companies that make everything a lot easier and cost effective. Game server that are not full to the brim with players run by non expert technicians benefit greatly from this method.
Setting up a game server with a provider like Survival Servers or Host Havoc is as easy as filling in a few forms and following a few guides to check a few boxes. Much quicker than the alternative of setting up your game server using a command line, like something from the movie Wargames.
Maintaning a game server this way is a lot easier too. The providers usually have dedicated control panels that can update game files, manage mods and update them as well as allow you to edit config files in a web based editor.
What is impressive is that you can shop around and really catch a bargain as there is a lot of competition in this industry. Comparison site like CompareGameHosting make the whole process much easier by bringing in the best ark server hosting and best minecraft server hosting companies into organised lists. They also cater for a variety of other games that require game server hosting too.