Why COOP & Casual Games Need a Dedicated Game Server Too

Dec 19, 2023

In the gaming world, the choice of networking architecture plays a crucial role in the player experience, especially in cooperative (COOP) and casual games.

This guide explores why even these game types can significantly benefit from dedicated game servers, specifically authoritative servers, compared to traditional peer-to-peer (P2P) networking.

Understand Networking Types

Peer-to-Peer

Peer-to-peer (“P2P”) is a widely used networking model in gaming where connections are established directly between players' devices. This method is favored for its cost-effectiveness and simplicity in implementation.

However, P2P networking comes with significant drawbacks. It often falls short in terms of security, making games more vulnerable to cheating and hacking.

Consistent in-game experience can also be a major issue, as each player's device handles part of the game's processing, leading to potential discrepancies in gameplay. There is also the issue of NAT challenges, which often come with massive amount of “1:1” customer support with players – as this page from XBOX shows, many things can (and will) go wrong.

Furthermore, overall game performance can suffer, particularly if players with weaker connections affect the game's stability for others.

Authoritative Servers

Contrasting with P2P, authoritative servers act as a central hub for all game-related data and decisions. In this setup, the server processes all game actions and state updates.

This centralized control ensures a more consistent and fair gaming experience for all players. It significantly improves security by reducing the risk of cheating, as the server has the final say in all game decisions.

Additionally, it provides a more stable and controlled environment, leading to enhanced overall game performance, as the server handles the majority of the computational load.

Benefits of Authoritative Servers for COOP & Casual Games

Enhanced Security

Authoritative servers significantly reduce the risks of cheating and hacking that are often seen in P2P setups. By centralizing game control, these servers can more effectively manage and enforce game rules, creating a fairer and more secure environment for players. This is crucial in maintaining the integrity of the game and ensuring an equitable experience for all participants.

Improved Game Performance

In this model, the game's performance is less influenced by the varying network conditions of individual players. Authoritative servers centralize the processing of game actions, which helps in reducing lag and ensuring smoother gameplay. This leads to a more consistent and enjoyable experience, especially in fast-paced gaming scenarios.

Consistent Game State

Authoritative servers are pivotal in maintaining a uniform game state for all players. This is especially important in cooperative (COOP) games where teamwork and coordinated actions are essential. The server ensures that every player has the same understanding of the game's state at any given time, facilitating better coordination and interaction.

Scalability

These servers offer superior scalability, accommodating more players and larger game worlds without a corresponding decrease in performance. This aspect is particularly beneficial for games that aim to expand their player base or introduce more complex and expansive game environments. It ensures that the game can grow and evolve without compromising on performance or player experience.

Case Studies: Success Stories in COOP and Casual Gaming

Highlighting several COOP and casual games that have successfully integrated authoritative servers, demonstrating tangible improvements in player experience and game stability.

Challenges and Considerations

While authoritative servers offer numerous benefits, they come with challenges such as increased cost, the need for ongoing maintenance, and technical complexity. This includes:

  • Higher chance of lag due to increased network traffic due to a centralized server

  • Single point of failure

  • Limited scalability

  • Extremely Expensive (idle costs, ongoing server costs, regions)

Fortunately, an orchestration service with pay-per-use pricing helps mitigate all of the above. From latency, to scalability, and pricing that only requires game developers to pay when players pay.

Conclusion

The move towards authoritative servers in COOP and casual games represents a significant step in enhancing player experience, security, and performance. However, they come with their own set of challenges – access to knowledgeable backend developers, high cost of cloud operations, player issues with performance, and more.  

Fortunately, there are new solutions in the market that overcome the “traditional” game hosting from public cloud. Edgegap, thanks to its automated game servers, convenient integration with major tools and game serviches such as Netcode networking, and orchestration on the world’s largest distributed network, instantly overcomes these issues.

Lean more here, or create an account today to experience it for yourself.

As the gaming industry evolves, adopting such technologies becomes not just advantageous but essential for the sustained success of a game.

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