Your Ultimate Guide to Dedicated Gaming Servers
If you are an avid gamer, you have probably at least heard about game servers and/or dedicated game servers. If you're thinking about setting your own dedicated game server, it pays to do your homework to be sure your investment is worthwhile.
Today, we're going to explore dedicated private servers for gaming and talk about the pros, the cons, and the benefits of choosing a dedicated server over other alternatives.
Ready to dive in? Game on!
What is a Dedicated Gaming Server?
By definition, a dedicated server is an enterprise-grade server used to host a single client.
Dedicated servers are just one of many hosting choices for gaming. You've also got shared hosting, in which you share server resources with others, and virtual private servers (VPS), which share some resources but give you a lot more flexibility and power than a shared server.
If you are an avid gamer or hosting a multiplayer game, shared hosting is probably not sufficient as you might have to deal with latency issues and unreliable connections. A VPS might be enough, but if you want ultimate control of your gaming experience—including who you play with—a dedicated server is definitely the way to go.
Dedicated Gaming Server Pros
Dedicated gaming servers are a huge advantage on many levels, but the cost can be an issue if you're shouldering the burden yourself.
However, if you are hosting multiplayer games, if you're a game developer, or running a data center, a dedicated server is the key to providing high-performance, low-latency gaming for your co-players or clients.
Power and Control
In any game scenario, players must abide by the rules. If you are running your game on a dedicated server, however, you make the rules. You can decide who can join and who to exclude, and you can even kick people off the server if you want. This is a serious advantage in terms of quality control as you can limit the number of players to optimize performance and prevent latency.
You are the supreme authority. You are the one driving the gaming experience. It's a huge responsibility, but somebody's got to do it. Right?
Customized Gaming Experience
With a dedicated server, you are in control of your gaming environment. If you want to build shared elements or features into your gameplay, you can do that, and all players benefit. For example, if you're running a Minecraft server, you can install lots of extras that everybody on your game roster can enjoy.
For example, you can change the length of your rounds to suit your preference. You can also create environments to do battle in, add custom maps, restrict the types of weapons and tools available; the world is your oyster.
Latency: Be Gone!
When you're not in control of the server, you don't only have to deal with your own latency issues. Your co-players' connections and ping times can also affect the quality of your gameplay, and that's frustrating when you're in the thick of it.
With a dedicated server, you are in full control of the game and can get rid of players who are slowing it down. This is likely more of an issue for first-person shooter or other high-action games, but it can happen in any multiplayer ecosystem.
Dedicated Gaming Server Cons
While having a dedicated gaming server is #goals for many, there's also a dark side. What you go with will all depend on what matters most to you and what you can afford.
If you're running the server yourself—for instance, if you intend to host a physical server at your location—you are responsible for the security, maintenance, and upkeep of the hardware. Maintenance is essential to maintain a secure environment, and depending on your level of comfort with server hardware, this may or may not be your jam.
Cost of a Dedicated Gaming Server
Probably the biggest barrier to having your own dedicated gaming server is the cost. On the low end of the scale, you'll pay in the range of about $100 per month, plus whatever plug-ins and security add-ons you want. On the high end, with all the bells and whistles and maximum bandwidth to support hundreds of players, you could be looking at $1000 per month or more.
Additionally, if you're running a physical server, get ready for your energy bills to spike. If you're running the server 24/7, it's going to take a lot of resources to maintain your uptime. This is one of the reasons why most people seeking a dedicated gaming server will "rent" one from a hosting provider. Renting a dedicated server takes all the back-end tasks off your plate, but certain aspects, like security, are generally a-la-carte. Plus, if you've got a core group that you play with, you might want to consider sharing the cost to make it affordable.
Security Can Be Weak
In a gaming environment, security is essential. There is a high prevalence of DDoS attacks in gaming, primarily sparked by ruthless competition. Even if you're meticulously selective about who you allow into your game, you'll need to secure the perimeter and be hyper-vigilant about updating. If you're running your own server, you could be at even higher risk as what you don't know will definitely hurt you.
Why an Out-of-the-Box Gaming Server is Not Ideal
When you purchase a gaming system, it comes with a server. It's pretty much plug-and-play; you just connect to the internet, set it up, and have at it. However, there are a lot of drawbacks to this approach, as no doubt you've experienced.
Primarily, you'll be logging onto a server that you share with thousands or even millions of others. Connectivity issues, outages, and individual player ping times will impact the quality of your gameplay. You have zero control over what happens, and that pertains to security issues as well. If the hosting server is under attack, you might be vulnerable to the point where it impacts not only your game but also your local network.
And then there's the issue of competency. Every gamer has to start somewhere, but it is frustrating to have to deal with inept laggards and novices. If you have high standards, if you like to be challenged (in a good way, not by newbies), an out-of-the-box gaming server is just going to get your goat – if not right away, then eventually, and probably sooner than later.
You also won't have many options to customize your game, which maybe you care about, and maybe you don't. Ultimately, it all comes down to what matters most to you.
Are You Ready For a Dedicated Gaming Server?
Today's gaming platforms offer beautifully designed, dynamic environments and immersive, virtual worlds that are fun and exciting to play with friends and frenemies. Hosting a dedicated gaming server gives you superior control and provides many options that other server configurations do not.
When you're ready to take your gameplay to the next level, a dedicated gaming server delivers. Check out OVHcloud's plans and options for dedicated gaming servers and step into new worlds and endless possibilities.