Online gaming is bigger than it has ever been. With the popularity and ease of access to smartphones and WiFi almost anyone can play a video game if they wish. The video game industry was worth around $160 billion in 2023 and is predicted to rise to nearly $300 billion by 2027 according to some experts.
Video gaming has never been more accessible. There are a multitude of consoles, hand held games, smartphones, tablets, laptops and full video gaming rigs that cost thousands of dollars for the serious gamer. Online marketplaces such as eBay sell second hand consoles and it is inexpensive to get an older Playstation or Nintendo.
The average person using their smartphone to play a game they downloaded from the Play Store probably isn’t considering the hosting that is required to make the game run smoothly. Many games can be played offline and are housed on the smartphone but many more still require an internet connection and need to connect to their nearest server. It is this hosting that can affect the quality of your game play.
How popular is online gaming?
As already mentioned, video gaming is a multi billion dollar industry. Games are available in physical form as well as purely digital downloads. Many people these days purchase their games online and download them, never even seeing a physical box, disk or cartridge.
There are around 2.5 billion gamers in the world with the main growth coming in the Asia Pacific region. This covers casual gamers playing games like Candy Crush on their smartphones and others who play online with others in games such as Fortnite on PCs and consoles. Minecraft is arguably the most popular game with around 200 million copies sold and even has web hosts offering dedicated servers for the game. If you want to play Minecraft this way then you can look at server hosting plans at FortuneLords.
If you need further evidence of how big video games have got then look at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup event. This esports event attracted an audience of 2 million. That’s right, 2 million people streamed a gaming event. If that is surprising then the prize money may make you want to start practising for the next event. $100 million was pooled for the total prize fund at the World Cup. The actual football (soccer) World Cup had a total pool of $400 million the year before but that event is one of the biggest sports events in the world and has been running for nearly 100 years. This was Fortnite’s first event.
How does hosting affect all of this?
Really the only thing most gamers will be concerned about is the speed of the servers. To run MMO games takes a huge amount of bandwidth. Companies will require an incredible amount of investment to develop and maintain servers. The network bandwidth needs to deal in terabytes per second to be able to have these games running across the globe.
Location is a factor too. You have perhaps been asked which server you want to join before. For example there may be a choice of North America, Europe and Asia. Where the server is located compared to where you are will affect your game play. Players want and need servers in the regions that they live and play. This means more investment from the games developers. One game could have hundreds of servers across the world. This makes sense when you consider the most popular games could have millions of players online at the same time. The record for Fortnite is over 8 million concurrent players online.
It isn’t just speed that is important for the gaming servers. There is a lot of sensitive information stored on here. When you install a new game you will usually be giving the software permission to access your Google Play account or equivalent depending on what platform you are using. If it was a smartphone app you may also be giving it permission to access your photos, videos, GPS and other private information. People often give permissions without thinking through the potential security issues.
In 2019 hackers stole over 200 million people’s data from Zynga. This information included Facebook IDs, login IDs, email addresses, users’ names and Zynga account IDs. Luckily in this instance no financial data was stolen but it highlighted how important security is for gaming companies.
Advertising and other revenue
Because of all the investment, ongoing maintenance and necessary expansions of host servers the game developers need to raise money to pay for it all. After all those servers and tech staff don’t pay for themselves. The most common way to do this on smartphone games is through advertising. It is a source of annoyance for many gamers but if you have downloaded a free game and are using their very expensive hosting services you need to understand that it needs to be paid for somehow.
This is why games have loot boxes and other upgrades for purchasing with real money. Years ago it was perfectly normal to walk into Game or HMV and buy a console game off the shelf and that was the end of the transaction. No more money was being passed between the player and the developer. These days are different.
Due to the huge demands placed on the servers and the need to constantly improve the games there is a need to make additional revenue. People don’t play at home on their own anymore, or at least not as much. Gamers go online and they are a demanding bunch sometimes. Players want huge open worlds, extremely high bandwidth, constant uptime, no lag, in game voice chat and more. This means the hosting needs more financing even after the game is purchased.
How a video game is hosted can affect the speed, security of the players information and even the finances of a serious gamer. A recent study of one smartphone FPS showed that if a player was to purchase the best of each type of gun then they would spend over 400 GBP and that is before the upgrades, uniforms and monthly subscription are included!