Why Unreal game server should use Docker instead of Bare-metal

Jul 27, 2023

With the continuous evolution of the digital landscape, the need for increasingly efficient and dependable technological solutions is growing. A growing trend in the gaming industry, especially for Unreal game servers, is the shift from traditional Bare-metal servers to Docker containerization.

But why should Unreal game servers use Docker instead of Bare-metal?

This article sheds light on the reasons and benefits of embracing this new technology.

Understand the Basics

To appreciate the value Docker brings, we first need to understand what Docker and Bare-metal servers are. Docker is an open-source platform that uses OS-level virtualization to deliver software in packages called containers. Each container is a standalone unit, encompassing all the necessary components to run an application independently.

On the other hand, Bare-metal refers to a physical server dedicated to a single tenant. Unlike cloud services that host multiple tenants on a single machine, a Bare-metal server offers dedicated resources.

The Shift to Docker

For many years, Bare-metal servers have been the default choice for running game servers. However, the advent of Docker has challenged this status quo, and here are the reasons why:

Resource Efficiency

Docker containers are lightweight, taking up fewer resources than full OS installations on Bare-metal servers. Thanks to Docker's efficiency, you can operate several game servers on a single physical server, leading to a reduction in costs and an enhancement in scalability.

Portability and Consistency

Docker's 'build once, run anywhere' capability allows developers to package their Unreal game servers in a container, which can then run on any system with Docker installed, whether it’s Windows, Linux, or MacOS. This feature ensures consistency across different environments, eliminating the 'works on my machine' problem.

Isolation

Each Docker container runs in isolation, eliminating the risk of conflicts between game servers or different versions of the same server. If one game server crashes, it won't affect the others, ensuring uptime and improving the gaming experience. It is also possible to prevent “noisy neighbor” by limiting and guaranteeing resources to each container, thus preventing lag due to other game servers using hardware/virtual resources.

Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)

Docker works seamlessly with modern CI/CD pipelines, enabling efficient testing, building, and deployment of game servers. With Docker, developers can automate these processes, leading to faster releases and updates. Connecting a build pipeline to an infrastructure using containers opens a world where studio can easily release a new version every hour if they want.

Docker VS Bare-Metal: Performance Aspects

Many might argue that Bare-metal offers better performance as there's no virtualization layer. While this is partially true, the performance difference between Docker and Bare-metal is negligible for most Unreal game servers. Docker's benefits of resource efficiency, portability, and isolation far outweigh the minor performance differences, making Docker the preferred choice for modern game server infrastructure.

Embracing Docker: A Winning Strategy

Migrating from a Bare-metal environment to Docker requires an initial investment of time and resources. But the long-term benefits — including better resource utilization, enhanced scalability, and improved developer workflow — make the transition worth it. Docker not only simplifies the development and deployment process but also provides a reliable and consistent environment for running Unreal game servers.


In short, the shift from Bare-metal to Docker for Unreal game servers is a strategic move in an increasingly containerized world. By harnessing Docker's power, developers can make game server management more efficient and resilient, leading to a better gaming experience for players. Embracing Docker today, therefore, sets the stage for a more sustainable and robust gaming infrastructure in the future.

If you’re looking to move from old style baremetal hosting and you are not sure where to start, check out Edgegap’s platform environment.

We provide a fully managed, SaaS, pay-as-you-go platform where you simply have to provide a docker container image, and we handle the rest.

Reach out on Discord to get free live support as you migrate from your binary-based game servers to the next generation of infrastructure.

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