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All About That BaaS: Do I Really Need a Back End Server for My Game and If So Should I Buy, Build, or Rent?

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You don't need to own Downton Abbey to realize the importance of a good server. These days, every mobile game, from the most casual puzzler to real-time hard-core battler, needs brawn and brains in the cloud.

Today I gave a talk at GDC that looked at some of the top Backend as Service providers out there such as SmartFox, Photon, GameSparks, PlayFab, and Unity Multiplayer and provide a no B.S., jargon-free overview making it clear who would want to use what and when. He will also discuss why building your own set of game services is sometimes a superior option.

Takeaway
You'll walk away understanding why having a game server is necessary, the best options out there for quickly spinning up game services, and a clear idea of the various trade-offs between renting and building your own stuff. In short, this talk will help you cover your BaaS!

Published in: Technology

All About That BaaS: Do I Really Need a Back End Server for My Game and If So Should I Buy, Build, or Rent?

  1. 1. David Fox CEO, Double Coconut Email: david@doublecoconut.com Slides: http://blog.doublecoconut.com/ Relax!
  2. 2. - Educational to Match-Three to Real $$ Casino - Artsy Indie to Big Budget Multi-Player - Built Servers + Admin Tools Large & Small - Touched a LOT of BaaS
  3. 3. Budget AAA Indie Multi-Player Real Time Single Player Async Turn Based Sync Turn Based
  4. 4. Budget AAA Indie Multi-Player Real Time Single Player Async Turn Based Sync Turn Based No-Brainer
  5. 5. IAP Receipt Verification Actual Revenue WTF!
  6. 6. Push Notifications ● Global Push Notifications ● Triggered APNs
  7. 7. Check for Updates ● Update Available ● Breaking Change - Must Update
  8. 8. Also... ● Analytics!
  9. 9. Don’t Need Full BaaS Provider! ● OneSignal ● DeltaDNA, GameAnalytics, Localytics, Mixpanel, Upsight, Etc.
  10. 10. Budget AAA Indie Multi-Player Real Time Single Player Async Turn Based Sync Turn Based Lame Brain: Some Server Smarts
  11. 11. Leader Boards ● Your Own UI ● Optionally Integrated With: ● Game Center ● Google Play
  12. 12. Viral Spreaders ● Share Score / Achievements ● Facebook, Instagram, Twitter ● Share Screen Shot / Video ● Invites ● Affiliate System w/ Rewards
  13. 13. Budget AAA Indie Multi-Player Real Time Single Player Async Turn Based Sync Turn Based Bit O’ Brain: Designers and Marketers
  14. 14. Server-Driven Merchandising
  15. 15. Why in-game events matter (AdCap) PlayFab added as backend platform
  16. 16. Back-End Key Vars ● Game Economy ● Hard & Soft Currencies ● Virtual Good Prices ● Timers ● Level-Up Thresholds ● Achievements ● Quests / Rewards
  17. 17. Budget AAA Indie Multi-Player Real Time Single Player Async Turn Based Sync Turn Based Bold Brain: Cloud-Data-Driven
  18. 18. Cloud-Based Level Design
  19. 19. Player Data in Cloud
  20. 20. Player Authentication ● Anonymous (Device ID / GUID) ● Or Facebook ● Also: ● IP, Email / Password ● Twitter, Game Center, Google Play, Kongregate
  21. 21. Player Management ● Purchase History ● Play History ● See & Change Current Data ● Invaluable for CS
  22. 22. Cloud Save ● Cross-Platform Play ● Easy Continuation on New Device
  23. 23. Server Logic Is The Only Logic ● Server awards and deducts points + currency ● Difficult to cheat / hack
  24. 24. Budget AAA Indie Multi-Player Real Time Single Player Async Turn Based Sync Turn Based Multi Player
  25. 25. ~60% Of Top-Grossing 50 Have Some Multi-Player Component 75% Of Top 20 Have Strong Multi-Player
  26. 26. Async “Data Vs. Data” ● Matchmaking ● Friends List or Ranked Stranger ● Game State Coordination ● Don’t Need “Real” Multiplayer Services
  27. 27. Turn-Based Async ● Matchmaking ● Friends List or Ranked Stranger ● Invites ● Notifications ● In-Progress / Complete Games ● Messaging
  28. 28. Semi-Real-Time Turn-Based ● Lobbies ● Sort Criteria ● Chat + Emoticons ● Observing? ● Flawless Gameplay ● Drop Ins/Outs + AI
  29. 29. “Real-Time” Multi-Player ● Low-Latency ● State Synchronization ● Fair and Equal Timing ● Predictive Physics / Interpolation
  30. 30. Beyond The Gameplay ● Teams / Guilds ● Location-Based ● Watching Games Live ● Storing / Watching Replays ● Live Moderation of Chat ● Lifetime Chat History / Recall
  31. 31. But how to choose?
  32. 32. ● Founded 2014 ● Seattle, WA ● 42M MAU ● Raised $13M / VC-Backed ● Founders from Popcap & Uber Entertainment
  33. 33. Trusted Publishers ● Jagex ● Capcom ● Rovio ● Atari ● BandaiNamco ● Miniclip ● Obsidian Ent ● TripWire ● Kongregate
  34. 34. Solid SDK Support ● ActionScript ● Android ● iOS ● Unreal ● Unity ● JavaScript ● Marmalade ● cocos2d-x ● Corona ● C++ ● NodeJS ● C# ● Java ● Xamarin ● Lumberyard
  35. 35. News & Events
  36. 36. CloudScript Applications include: • Granting player rewards • Validating player actions • Resolving interactions between players • Managing asynchronous game turns
  37. 37. Add-Ons ● Kochava Attribution ● Branch Deep Linking ● Supersonic Ad Mediation ● Analytics ● Community ● Zendesk (Support)
  38. 38. ● Founded 2013 ● Dublin, Ireland ● Raised $800K / Seed ● 35M MAU ● Founders from Online TV / Sky
  39. 39. Trusted Publishers ● Telltale ● Mind Candy ● Ubisoft ● Stainless Games ● Beeline ● El Ray ● Gamigo ● Amazon Game Studios ● Square Enix ● PokerStars ● NYX Gaming Group
  40. 40. Mega-SDK Support ● ActionScript ● Android ● iOS ● Unreal ● Unity ● JavaScript ● Marmalade ● cocos2d-x ● Corona ● C++
  41. 41. Create Own Dashboard / Admin
  42. 42. ● Founded 1995 (bitHeads) ● Mobile Enterprise Apps ● Toronto, Canada
  43. 43. Trusted Publishers ● Novarama ● Ubisoft ● Mochibits ● Get Set Games ● Spearhead Games ● Playbrains
  44. 44. Major SDKs ● iOS, Android, Windows ● Unity, cocos2d-x, Unreal
  45. 45. Turn-By-Turn Multiplayer
  46. 46. “One-Way Multiplayer” (Data Vs. Data)
  47. 47. Major SDKs ● iOS, Android, Unity, Flash, HTML5, REST
  48. 48. SDK Supports Only: ● ActionScript / Flash, ObjectiveC
  49. 49. “Real-Time” Multi-Player ● Seriously Tough ● (Seriously!)
  50. 50. ● Turn-Based “With Friends” Style ● Clash of Clans-Style ● Fighting Against Another Player’s Game Data
  51. 51. ● Real-Time, Turn-Based or MMO ● Many Packages ● Peer to Peer, Lock-Step Physics, Chat, Voice, ● Major Publishers ● InnoGames, WB Games, Sandbox, Nival ● Partnership w/ PlayFab
  52. 52. Mutiplayer ● High-Level API (HLAPI) ● P2P: One Client Acts As Server (Host Mode) ● Pay For: Matchmaking + Relay ● Send/Receive Messages ● State Synchronization ● Remote Procedure Calls
  53. 53. Mutiplayer ● Or Low-Level Support (LLAPI) ● Write Atop Transport Layer (UDP Socket) ● Low-Level Messaging
  54. 54. ● Android ● But Also iOS, C++, Rest, Unity ● Turn-Based or Real-Time ● Using Google Cloud Back-End ● Confusing Pricing
  55. 55. ● Optimized Socket Server ● High-performance, scalable ● Client SDKs ● Unity, HTML5, iOS, Android, Windows ● Not BaaS – Must Deploy ● Jelastic, Vault Networks, Right Scale, Internap
  56. 56. ● Social / Realtime Apps ● Open Source ● Run on Own Servers / Cloud Provider ● Unity Only
  57. 57. Many Others.. ● ElectroTank ● uLink ● Forge ● DarkRift
  58. 58. Union MOBA ● Playfab+ ● Photon
  59. 59. “Braincloud Bombers” ● Braincloud+ ● Unity UNET ● Photon (Exit Games)
  60. 60. Game BaaS Monthly Costs MAU
  61. 61. Multiplayer Monthly Costs MAU
  62. 62. Vs. Rolling Your Own...
  63. 63. 3-6 Months
  64. 64. Not as Cheap As It Looks ● “Black Box” of Features ● Occasional Bugs ● Time-Consuming Customization
  65. 65. Privacy
  66. 66. They Die, You Die
  67. 67. They Thrive... You Die! ● Vendor Lock-In “Extortion” ● Acquisition = One Customer
  68. 68. Parse: A cautionary tale
  69. 69. Of the Top 50 Grossing Games... All have Proprietary Back-Ends*
  70. 70. Nothing Beats Bespoke ● Segmenting ● A/B Tests ● Integrated CRM ● Highly Custom Analytics ● All Tied to Economy / Merchandising
  71. 71. I love aggregated synergy, baby.
  72. 72. Ingredients ● Game Server (PHP, Java, Node.JS) ● Admin Tool (CSS / HTML) ● Database (MySQL, Postgres, MongoDB) ● Cloud Provider (IaaS) ● Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, Bluemix
  73. 73. We Roll Our Own a LOT ● But We Have a Proven “Bag of Tricks” ● Custom Code Libraries ● Lotsa Experience
  74. 74. Potential Cost Savings ● Engineering costs can reduce to 0... ● w/ Good monitoring / alerts ● If you get big enough, can optimize.
  75. 75. Half-BaaSed (Not Game-Specific) ● Authentication / User Admin ● NoSQL DB ● Cloud Logic ● Basic Analytics ● Easy Client SDKs ● iOS, Android, Unity, Web
  76. 76. Half-BaaSed Leaders ● Google FireBase ● NoSQL DB ● Amazon Web Hub ● Cognito, Lambda, Dynamo ● Microsoft Azure App Service
  77. 77. Many Others.. ● Kinvey ● Kii ● App42 Cloud ● Usergrid
  78. 78. Worth Thinking About... ● Up and running quickly! ● Can develop own dashboards ● + Own analytics ● More stable companies
  79. 79. Multi-Player BudgetEffort Real Time Single Player AAA Indie Async Turn Based Sync Turn Based
  80. 80. David Fox CEO, Double Coconut Email: david@doublecoconut.com Slides: http://blog.doublecoconut.com/

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