The virtual gaming industry is big. When taking into account all types of gaming platforms, such as console, PC, and online based games, the entire industry made an estimated $93 billion in 2013 alone. Mobile games have earned an estimated $23 billion in the past two years with big names games such as Candy Crush earning $1.5 billion individually. When confronted with these staggering numbers, it seems like a great idea to begin hosting mobile games. Indeed, companies that are prepared to understand how the gaming community works, hosting online games could be a very smart business move.
Gaming Specific Opportunities
Some of the concepts of managing online gaming communities are similar to ideas from other areas of business:
- Not everyone enjoys or wants the same thing
- People desire progression and rewards
- Some people want to take shortcuts and are willing to pay for them, while others prefer to work things out on their own
Despite these similarities with the business world, games offer something completely unique: the chance to participate in something fun, not to gain any tangible reward, but to achieve a specific emotion. Playing games is enjoyable and helps expand the imagination, but games are only truly successful when they follow rules and patterns. Taking some of the lessons gleaned from other areas of consumer business and applying them to virtual game hosting allows business-minded hosting services to be successful.
The Fickle Minds of the People
One of the most appealing aspects about games is that they often have a beginning and an end. There are loads of games on the market that follow this pattern, but most online games provide continuous play. This means developers must constantly be creating new levels or have an infinity mode within the game. Just because a game never ends does not guarantee people will keep playing it forever. There must be a progression to keep people interested, but sometimes, avid players will simply pick up and quit playing, never to come back to their old favorites. For this reason, along with others, many game developers create several games at once, always providing something new and exciting. For web hosting companies, this does mean that they may be required to host more than one game, which will likely cost more money.
There are a few issues that may come up when starting or maintaining an online gaming server. These include:
- Bandwidth – From a technical standpoint, games require large servers with lots of bandwidth to keep games running smoothly. Some of the most popular online games are able to be played with friends or strangers from around the world. Your servers must have enough guts to keep everyone’s games from glitching or taking too long to load.
- Cheating – There will always be savvy players who want to find the limits and loopholes in a game. If there is any kind of multi-player interaction, it is important to have a plan for cheaters who try to hack the system. This means having game developers and administrators on hand.
- Negative gamer interactions – One of the downsides to any internet system is the possibility of anonymous bullying, or as a gamer might say, trolling. Part of the administrator’s duty it to monitor and respond to abusive communications between gamers. Of course, this problem can be easily bypassed if players are not able to interact, but this does make game play less fun. Having a legal advisor help you construct terms of service can prevent any legal issues that stem from player interaction.
- Cost – Any type of hosting service is not going to be a “pay once and earn money now” endeavor. Hosting requires lots of investments of both time and money. In order to keep the gaming community growing and satisfied, you will need to continually spend money. However, with the right business plan and experienced staff, your community will rake in revenue.
- Willpower – If you are serious about building a thriving gamer community, you need to commit yourself to your plan. Failed gaming enterprises may have fallen because those involved did not realize how much work goes into online entertainment and quit too soon..
How to Get Started
If you are an established hosting service that wants to look into the trends of game hosting, there is no better time to start than now! Even if your company is new, as long as you have the technical knowledge and a desire to learn all there is to know about the industry, you have what it takes to begin hosting. Some things you need to get started are:
- Some fun and preferably slightly addicting games – Having games that are fun to play is a sure way to get players hooked. Advertise for game developers to use your new service or create games of your own; a gaming host without games is not likely to be popular or make money.
- A dedicated hosting network – Do not try to piggyback your games on another server. Make any connections and additions required to link your traditional hosting and new game hosting networks together.
- Games developing staff – Be prepared for errors, shut-downs, and glitches by employing a gaming specialist, or train an existing employee how to repair and maintain gaming programs and the hosting network.
- Marketing agenda – Have a plan for getting your name out in the public eye. Determine where future game developers browse and create inline marketing strategies targeting them. Always be ready to push advertisements when business slows to gain interested players.
- Plan for the future of your services – Game hosting may not begin showing profits right away, so it is important to make a complete business plan. Do not back out too soon, otherwise you may waste all of your good work.
Despite how it looks from the outside, hosting a gaming server is not all fun, fun, fun. It takes a great deal of dedication, experience, and grit. When done properly however, it can be a great business opportunity, especially if you are able to host the next surprise hit. The market opportunity is out there, and all a hosting company needs to do it lay a solid hosting foundation and start attracting the right developers and players. There is billions of dollars to be made in online gaming, it is only a matter of creating an environment that is capable of supporting and nurturing the demand.
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