With day 1 releases now causing widespread issues and servers feeling the increased loads, developers have been forced into bigger outlays, using platforms that take part of their revenue. This is an all too common issue when a game receives “hype” - regardless of the platform.
With so many platforms existing right now such as Steam, Epic, Google Play, PS, Origin and many, many more, developers feel that there’s a need to utilise these huge companies to satisfy the demand for online gameplay. The shift into the “always online” and multiplayer approach to gaming, means it’s now more essential than ever that these services can cope with the demand of games which rise in popularity. Games such as Valheim, Fall Guys and New World among others, were all picked up by popular streamers across YouTube and Twitch, meaning that upon release these games had massive demand and often the servers crash, leaving thousands of people unable to access the game.
Alpha & beta testing
What this has given rise to is “alpha” and “beta” testing periods, where games are released into “early access”. This means an incomplete version of the game is released onto these platforms, sometimes at a far reduced price, so that developers can gauge the interest. Sometimes, most indy developers find that the platforms can easily handle the “hype” and these games stay in early access for long amounts of time, but there’s the occasional unicorn that gets picked up by popular streamers and as such creates massive interest, sometimes crashing the servers.
What does it mean?
This means that often, games are delayed as a result of making hotfixes on the fly. You’d think by now that the larger platforms would cope with the demand, but this isn’t always the case. Rockstar suffered massive issues when they released GTA Online, with servers crashing for over 2 weeks as a result of interest upon release on multiple platforms. Other games also suffer this fate, with concurrent player counts on certain games causing the platforms themselves to bug out or crash. It’s certainly interesting then, to learn that platforms such as Steam, Epic and the like still suffer from outages and spend considerable time fixing them, causing inconvenience to players.
So, if I’m developing a game, how do I test it?
Because there’s been a seismic shift towards developers using large corporation’s platforms to host their gaming dreams, it’s often at a detriment to the revenue stream of the developers. What they get is a more stable launch environment, relying on the multi-million pound infrastructures that already exist, but they lose up to 50% of the revenue they could have made. Indeed, Epic has been in a long legal battle with the Apple Store over their micro-transactions in the games that they host, claiming that Apple takes too large of a cut. They knew this before they hosted the game there (Fortnite), but because of the service Apple provides, they take a cut of the revenue obtained. It’s a very difficult situation for all involved. The developers naturally feel that their continued success should be rewarded by an increase in revenue, while Apple will feel that their consistent service results in them getting their cut.
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