While many people think that gaming is a solitary activity, over the years the internet has caught up to the real world in making gaming a social phenomenon. Where previous generations met to play darts or go bowling, people have started forming teams to play games together, meeting both on-and-off-line. Not only do they play for fun, but gaming guilds, clans, and factions compete in tournaments around the world for real money and prizes.
The gaming industry is big business, expected to generate over $108 billion in 2017. With the growing professionalization of gaming, these players are also interested in having a web presence. New web hosting companies are appearing to cater this growing and very lucrative market.
Many people interested in a web presence for gaming will also want to run a private gaming server. The reason is that they can customize the conditions of a game to their own liking while also keeping out certain players. Anyone who's had preteens screaming profanities into their ears over their headsets while playing Call of Duty might understand why they'd want to do so.
Many potential customers will want not only a website but will also want to have it double as a game server. The most obvious use for the website would be to advertise the game server itself. Since web hosting is relatively simple for low-traffic sites, it's not that much of a stretch to turn it into a game server as well.
While it's perfectly possible to run a game server on a home computer, the main bottleneck is the fact that most residential connections are asymmetrical. That is, the download speed is much faster than the upload speed. While this is perfectly fine for web surfing and Netflix streaming, it makes running game servers difficult, as slow upload speeds result in "lag," or the game action being delayed. For fast-paced action games, many gamers find this intolerable. For this reason, hosted servers have very fast connections that are symmetrical.
The other strike against a local game server is that it ties up a computer. A game server running 24/7 consumes electricity and bandwidth. Dedicated servers hosted in data centers are much cheaper in the long run.
The main consideration for a game server will be the same as with selecting another hosting provider: reliability. While gaming might not seem to require a robust service level agreement (SLA), gamers will expect their server to stay up as much as a business who depends on a website does. And with professional gaming, competitive gamers are as unable to conduct business as e-commerce sites when a server goes down.
Game servers must also be fast enough to handle games, especially action-oriented games like first-person shooters. The server software itself keeps track of the game logic and what the players are doing, while client machines handle the graphics, but the server still has to be reasonably responsive or risk lag. That means that the servers will have to be specially tuned for performance.
Social Networking Features
Gaming groups are the bowling teams of the 21st century. Gaming-oriented hosting companies tend to support social networking features on their sites. Forums are a popular way that gamers meet. It's an outgrowth of the original bulletin board system where technophiles congregated in the 1980s.
Other hosting services, like Enjin, provide tools for more complete social networking features. These include profiles, blogging, and friending networks.
While gamers tend to be surprisingly technical, hosting providers can't assume that their customers all know HTML and CSS. Hosting companies thus normally have easy-to-use site builders. The primary function of this kind of hosting will be as a game server, with the website functioning as a front end to advertise a gaming group and the game server itself. So the site builder builder will probably not be as important to the customer as they are on, say, a business website.
Still, those who love HTML will be perfectly happy hand-coding a site if they want to.
Find The Best Guild Hosting For You
One nice feature of a gaming-focused hoster is integration with the games themselves. The gaming community is an interactive one, with users creating mods that change the behavior of games. They love to show their achievements as a kind of virtual trophy case on gaming websites.
One example of game integration is a kind of scoreboard on the homepage showing player rankings. The forum might also show a player's character in a profile or the number of kills they've made.
The page might also display the status of the game server itself, which should be up as much as possible.
A good host will have these integrations available for popular games like Minecraft, World of Warcraft, or Call of Duty.
Here's What Your Guild Hosting Needs To Offer
The face of gaming has changed, and now people create guilds, clans, and factions to play together — just for fun but also in competitions. Guilds often set up their own gaming servers. These can be set up on any host, but that's pretty technical. It is usually better to go with a host that specializes in guild hosting. For this kind of hosting, we recommend SiteGround.
Gaming is clearly a social phenomenon, both online and offline. With more gamers meeting up to play with and against each other, there's more demand for web services that cater to them. Whether that's social networking, web hosting, forums, or gaming servers, there's clearly a healthy, thriving market that looks like it will only keep growing. This will give hosting companies an opportunity to appeal to a dedicated market. Hosting companies that specialize in gaming will have a ready-made audience that likes to spend money.
The game industry moves quickly, and hosts will have to constantly update their offerings as the industry changes with new games, new game genres, new systems, and new players. Players not only want to experience the games, they want to share their game-play with others, whether it's through multiplayer games, forums, or through new streaming services like Twitch. Trends like gamification will only add to the dizzying mix of options to appeal to gamers. The new crop of hosting providers will have to watch this market carefully in the future if they want to hold on to their customers or hook new ones. The future looks bright for companies willing to expand into this niche.
For gamers, this is an ideal situation and gaming hosts compete to off the best servers and options available. But it also means that they will need to stay tuned into what different hosts are offering.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the differences between gaming guilds, clans, guilds, or factions?
In practice, these terms are pretty much interchangeable. The common thread through all of them is that they are groups of players that come together to play a game. These groups typically form around First Person Shooter (FPS) games due to their multiplayer functionality, but they can also form in Role-Playing Games (RPGs) and even simulation games with a multiplayer option, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Why might gaming groups want a private server?
The main advantage of a private game server is that it's private. Players on another server who aren't administrators don't have control over the parameters of the game, such as the levels or the types of enemies. Having their own server allows them to customize the game to their liking.
Why would gaming guild, clans, and factions want a website?
The same reason anyone else wants a website: to advertise themselves to the world. The more professional groups compete in tournaments for money and prizes. People will want to know who they are.
Where are these servers hosted?
Game servers can be located anywhere that the game can run. A server might run on a desktop gaming PC during a LAN party or be hosted on a server in a data center that serves thousands of players at once.