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Game hosting: How to choose the best infrastructure provider for your game

Posted: March 9, 20234 min read

The gaming industry has seen record growth over the past few years. As global access to gaming increases and new technologies expand what’s possible for gamers, the sector is experiencing a new wave of opportunity. With that opportunity comes new challenges, and fierce competition in the industry means organizations need to prioritize innovation and create stellar customer experiences in order to stay ahead. In a recent survey of gaming leaders, 83% said that the gaming industry is under constant pressure to innovate and create new gaming experiences.

So how can indie games stay ahead in an ecosystem that includes multibillion-dollar companies and increasing competition? By freeing up developer time to focus on innovative new experiences for your players.

Optimizing cloud infrastructure costs and performance is a good place to start. Reducing infrastructure costs frees up money in the budget for things like Research and Development or hiring more talent. And simpler, more reliable infrastructure allows game developers to move faster and teams to run leaner, freeing up developer time to prioritize what matters most—the game.

Worry-free reliability

Performance will always be top of mind of gaming companies, and cloud providers play a critical role in providing reliable services. Take some time to look into the reliability and support promised by your cloud provider. There’s significant potential for revenue growth—or loss—based on game performance. A game that goes down as its popularity goes up isn’t set up to outperform the competition. And if you need someone actively manning the keyboard to bring things back up, that’s valuable time a developer could use to improve the player experience. Consider how you can automate infrastructure management for deploys, scaling, healing, and any other repetitive tasks.

‍Find more time and peace of mind with automation

Implementing automations like Git for version control, CI/CD pipelines for quick updates, and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) for provisioning resources can free up significant time for teams. Gaming companies can benefit from using IaC to help with infrastructure automation, deployment, and changes in order to quickly create as many instances of your entire infrastructure as you need, in multiple provider regions, from your declarative code. This can ensure low latency for players around the world as instances are spun up in locations closest to the players accessing the servers.

Choose a cloud provider you can count on

Evaluate the cloud provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure that it fits your needs, but don’t stop there. Confirm that data backups, network load balancing, autoscaling, failovers, and other fail-safe mechanisms suit the needs of your business. Finally, explore options for fully managed services through your cloud provider, and weigh the time savings with the likely additional cost of implementation. If internal teams weren’t bogged down with infrastructure maintenance, are there high-value initiatives they could work on instead?

Reduce costs without sacrificing performance

‍ As games become more popular, the infrastructure resources needed to support the application increase. Because cloud providers commonly bill by the hour or second and users are only charged for what they use, bills can fluctuate quite a bit from month to month, especially when games are scaling. By choosing the right virtual machine for their workload and being cognizant of bandwidth charges, organizations can cut costs without sacrificing performance.

Choosing the right virtual machine

The virtual machine (VM) is the foundation for success. Selecting the wrong VM can significantly impact the reliability of your game. Consider the amount of RAM, vCPUs (virtual Central Processing Units), storage, and outbound transfer that you need. By choosing the VM that features appropriate specifications for your needs, you can save money while maintaining high performance. Most gaming companies benefit from DigitalOcean’s Premium CPU-Optimized Droplets, which provide up to 10 Gbps of outbound data transfer, reliable performance, super fast NVMe storage, and dedicated CPU to meet the needs of games serving thousands of users at once.

Planning for bandwidth costs

For many network-intensive applications like gaming, bandwidth costs make up a substantial part of their cloud bill. High bandwidth costs and complex billing systems can lead to unexpected surges in pricing as games become more popular, and a surprise bill could be catastrophic for a growing business. Gaming companies can benefit from transparent and straightforward bandwidth pricing models so they can plan for scale.

Because bandwidth costs are usually listed as pennies per GB, it’s easy to overlook their significance, but choosing a provider with affordable base bandwidth pricing could save you hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars as your game scales. DigitalOcean has proven especially popular with gaming companies for this reason, as we charge only about 10-20% of what other clouds do for bandwidth.

Build your gaming business on DigitalOcean

‍ DigitalOcean’s low bandwidth costs enable gaming businesses to spend less on bandwidth, while our flexible and scalable compute options ensure we’ll support your growth. From Droplet virtual machines to Spaces, our Object Storage offering, and Managed Kubernetes, we provide the tools you need to build and grow your applications.

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