Most multiplayer games rely on a client-host who both plays and hosts the game at the same time. While simple, this setup causes performance issues such as lag, slow loading times, crashes, lost save files, and dropped games.
A dedicated server is an alternative hosting option that offers a much more stable and enjoyable gaming experience.
This article is an introduction to dedicated servers for gaming. Read on to learn how these servers work and how they enable players to customize and control their gaming environments.
What Is a Dedicated Server for Gaming?
A dedicated gaming server is a computer that hosts a video game for a client. This type of server enables a reliable, stable, and fast connection to your favorite online games.
Dedicated game servers offer more processing, memory, and storage capabilities than other hosting solutions. Regardless of what game you play, the server always has enough resources to run the game fluidly.
Read about the benefits of dedicated servers to learn what this type of hosting offers to clients.
A dedicated server is ideal for all popular online games with high workloads, including:
- 7 Days to Die
- Counter Strike Global Offensive
- DOTA 2
- Killing Floor
Learn how to set up a Minecraft dedicated server and ensure an optimal online experience.
A dedicated server is a popular option among companies wishing to create a stable online environment for their players. However, an individual can also set up a gaming server and create a private online playground. A server can run both single and multiplayer games.
Why Are Dedicated Servers Better for Gaming?
Every multiplayer online game has a host and clients:
- Host: A server that transmits data to all the players and keeps the game in sync.
- Clients: Players participating in the game without hosting responsibilities.
In most online matches, the host is either the player who started the game or the one with the least latency. The host-player uses the computer or console to run the local version of the game, but that device also keeps the entire game in sync for all clients. The host handles:
- Every player’s location in the game.
- The activity of all the players.
- Player interactions.
- Each character’s loadout.
- What direction all players are facing.
- The physics happening around each player.
- Score and rules.
The host machine requires more memory, bandwidth, and processing power the more players log in and play the game. If the host player has a weak computer or a bad internet connection, the game will suffer from lag, bugs, and crashes.
In a dedicated server setup, the host is not a player. Instead, all players connect to a server with significantly more computing power and a better connection than an average PC or console. The admin is free to:
- Configure the server to ensure fluid gameplay (choose the operating system, install custom scripts, set up tools, optimize the game configuration, etc.)
- Control how many players can join the game to prevent players from chewing up processing time or memory.
- Customize the game rules (number of rounds, maps, allowed weapons, equipment rules, win conditions, character stats, etc.)
Dedicated hosting also eliminates the low-latency advantage the local host has over other players. The lack of unfair advantage makes dedicated servers ideal for competitive gaming.
How Do Dedicated Gaming Servers Work?
A dedicated server for gaming handles all the hosting duties. The server keeps the game in sync for players, managing the following aspects of a game:
- Player locations.
- Player activity.
- Game rules and score.
- Loadouts (weapons and equipment).
The dedicated server does not run the game engine, though. The device does not render anything, so the server does not require a graphics card (GPU). Instead, what a server has is high amounts of CPU and RAM, while it instructs client machines on what and when to render. The client device is responsible for:
- Game controls.
The result of such a setup is an efficient platform for gaming. Games running on dedicated servers do not experience lag, crashes, or glitches.
You can run a dedicated server for gaming from your home, but a much simpler and more affordable option is to rent it from an IT service provider. When your dedicated server is at a professional data center, you do not need to worry about hardware prices, monitoring, overheating, and security. You also get much higher bandwidth, ensuring faster, more responsive gameplay.
Advantages of Dedicated Gaming Servers
Dedicated servers for gaming come with several benefits other hosting options can not offer.
Excellent, Lag-Free Performance
A dedicated gaming server has top-tier hardware and internet connections. The gameplay is never laggy, so expect a smooth gaming experience.
Dedicated machines have 24/7 server monitoring, so the game is always available. Even if the local grid goes down, most data centers have a backup generator that ensures the game’s availability.
You also do not have to worry about overheating when using a dedicated gaming server. No matter how much action the game sees, data centers have constant cooling systems that ensure the infrastructure can handle the workload.
High Levels of Customization
The admin defines the hardware required to run the game. You can choose the ideal processor and amount of RAM, plus set bandwidth speeds for an optimal gaming experience.
The admin is also free to define the game rules. The server owner has the freedom typical game hosting does not allow, from editing objectives and maps to changing character stats and traits.
You are also free to determine who can enter the game. Make the server available to the public, use it as a private playground, or create an online arena for a gaming team. The admin can also kick players out of the game for high ping or rule violation.
Ability to Handle High Traffic Demand
Dozens of players can play a game on a dedicated server without impacting performance. The admin is free to set a max cap on the number of players to prevent the game from getting crowded.
No Corrupt Save Files
Dedicated servers are less prone to corrupt save files than typical gaming servers. The game saves your progress reliably, ensuring you can always pick the game up where you left off. A reliable save system is crucial for prolonged multiplayer matches.
High Levels of Security
Dedicated servers are very secure because:
- The admin defines who can log into the device, so intruders cannot pose as a random player and gain access.
- A gaming server runs video games and nothing else. The server does not have any applications or emails in the background, so the attack surface is minimal.
- Hosting providers invest heavily in cybersecurity.
Read our article about server security tips and learn how the pros keep servers safe.
Disadvantages of Dedicated Gaming Servers
Here are the downsides of setting up a gaming server at your home:
- Complex setup: Setting up a dedicated gaming server requires strong technical skills. The process is complicated and time-consuming, plus you must follow cybersecurity best practices.
- Regular maintenance: Like any server, a dedicated gaming server requires regular maintenance. You will have to monitor and maintain both the hardware and software of your device.
- High expenses: Setting up a dedicated gaming server requires a costly investment in hardware equipment. Also, expect high electricity bills, especially if you plan to make the server available to the public.
If you decide to set up a dedicated server with a service provider, though, the only drawback is that you will have to pay a monthly fee.
How to Choose a Dedicated Gaming Server Provider?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a provider for your dedicated gaming server.
Some video games are more demanding than others. Ensure the package you choose is strong enough to run the game without stuttering or glitches. Check available documentation from the game developer to check the right hardware setup.
Also, look for a provider that allows you to scale up and down depending on what game you are playing. Scalable resources are also useful when hosting games with a varying number of players.
Learn about FlexServers, the world's only server that allows users to scale vertically with a single reboot.
Your provider should offer SSDs and top processors to enable a smooth gaming experience. Look for tier-1 network service providers with top-of-the-line hardware.
A gaming server must be reliable. A proper uptime guarantee by the service provider ensures you will not experience game crashes or prolonged downtime. The provider should also have a 24/7 support team ready to assist you at all times.
Simple UI and Controls
A provider should simplify your job as an admin. Look for a hosting company that provides different control panels to administrate the game and hardware. Also, consider how quickly you need the server up and running and if the provider can meet your time frame.
Different providers charge different prices for hosting services. Compare prices between providers and pick a service that offers the most computing power for your budget.
Your hosting provider must have proper protection against cyberattacks. Look for a hosting plan that includes DDoS protection and robust firewalls.
High levels of security are critical if you plan to collect personal information or payment details from other players.
An Optimal Online Gaming Experience
A dedicated gaming server is the most stable and enjoyable way to play multiplayer games. Set up a gaming server and create an ideal environment to play your favorite online games. Our dedicated server packages offer a wide range of options to tailor your perfect gaming experience.