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The dream of making money from your computer and/or servers has been a dream of many for a long time. The idea that you can invest time and money into a project while enjoying the experience is like music to the ears.
So you may be very interested to read this mammoth sized report on Making Money From Game Servers written by the team here at CompareGameHosting. In this document we have researched and prepared an easy to use guide that covers many aspects of the game server hosting world and the opportunities contained in it.
Many of the ideas spoken about on this page are easy in theory and really only take a bit of hard work and imagination to bring to life. Some ideas are more than just a few hours work but typically when something is hard to do and requires a lot of investment in time it then brings higher rewards.
This guide has been written so that even the most non-techy people can understand its concepts but we can only simplify these subjects so far. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions that we may be able to help you out with.
This Making Money From Game Servers report tries to start off with the simplest ideas first and work its way up to the more intense ones later. We will add any new practices that we come across over time that may be of interest to people reading this so keep checking back.
Possibly the most simplest and easiest method to comprehend on this list is the idea of running a game server and asking for donations to keep it running. This practice is easy and would only require you to:
So as long as you know how to set up a game server (easy when you have a hosting provider do most of the work for you) and get people playing on it you are set.
Using Counter Strike: Global Offensive as an example, you would go to our price list page and choose a well priced server with a reputable company. Next, you will need to get the game running and set up the rules/settings and choose maps that you know are popular to play on.
Once the game is up and running the next step is to promote it everywhere you can, Facebook and other social medias are good as well as the Steam community hub for CSGO.
Once you have players regularly playing you can add donation buttons to be shown when your players join the game. The simplest way to collect these payments is through PayPal but a much more modern way that allows better tracking and feature locking is to use Patreon. Patreon is great as you can lock certain features and content to people who pledge a certain amount each month, ensuring that its not just a one off payment but a constant income each month.
The next simplest method of making money on a game server is to advertise to the players with banners provided by partners who pay per view. The practice of in game advertising has been around for a while now with most popular multiplayer games that offer private servers being taken advantage of using mods/plugins.
Advertisers are always trying to find ways of getting their brand in front of as many people as possible, with the gaming industry being massively lucrative. You will find that advertisers will be pushing the latest games and services such as boosting and training through banner ads that are relevant to your servers players.
Using the game Squad as an example we can break this process down into the following steps:
If you have more of an entrepreneurial/creative flare you could take on the more time consuming but potentially higher rewarding task of creating premium content. Gamers are always looking for something new, especially when they really like a games concept but have played the current existing content to death.
If you are able to create in game items, skins or maps (probably the easiest) and then limit the access to these for some sort of price then you could have something thats in demand for a long time. Another way of doing this is to establish a tie up between you and a brand and then allow free access to what you have created but the whole thing is essentially an advert. A good example of this is in Little Big Planet where good players were sponsored to create levels branded to companies like Honda where you drive a car and was uploaded for others to play. If you owned your own game server and offered this service you could control and charge for this.
The game that sees the most of this kind of monetising is Minecraft. Server owners create an in game demand for certain player skins and item skins and then sell them through a shop all tracked using mods like Buycraft.
When looking into this be sure to check the legal implications involved as Microsoft have set some very clear rules on what you can and cant do with this sort of thing. Essentially you can charge for premium “skins” as long as you do not charge for items or powerups that increase the effectiveness of them in game.
Laid out simply, you would do the following to create a game server with premium content:
Similar to the last making money from game servers method but with more freedom, you could create real world branded items like clothing and gaming accessories. This process of selling branded content isn’t as straight forward as selling in game skins though and may require some actual hard graft. Find a supplier that will do most of the work for you will help you get started and focus on what you do best: keeping the server popular and the flow of customer coming.
A drop shipping partner like InkThreadable could take your logo/designs in image form and then link to your Shopify account to create an instant branded clothing shop. The only problem with this method is that as you outsource more and more of the work to other companies your margin of profit drops.
So for the massively popular multiplayer game Ark Survival Evolved you could easily build up a popular server as the game is a lot newer than say CSGO and build a store around it. The hardest part of the equation to success is that you will need to create a demand for your brand alongside the actual game.
Usually requiring mods and maybe some coding to make work, Charging Access To Mini Games & Side Content could be a very lucrative addition to your game server. This is the legal way of charging for access to Minecraft as a way to get round the rule they have set that prohibits you making people pay to join your server. By making the main server free but then charging for mine-games and side “worlds” you could use the main server as a way to get free footfall onto your rented server while pushing for access to locked worlds.
Examples of great Minecraft mini-games can be found on the official forum here.
So this method is primarily for Minecraft so we will use that as an example:
As you may be aware, people out there are getting rich from YouTube and Twitch with many personalities seeing multi-million dollar yearly incomes solely from it.
Players such as PewdiePie and NeebsGaming earn eye-watering amounts of money from simply playing games and showing the footage (edited professionally of course) on video channels. Advertisers then part money with those platforms to appear alongside this content as it attracts the kind of people they want seeing their brand.
This method of making money from game servers is lower down on our list due to the time it takes and the work involved without any reward. If you can power on through with this task of content production it should turn into the highest paid practice on this list.
A fantastic sandbox game that is still in development is Scrap Mechanic, its open world nature has made it a great platform to build on. NeebsGaming have found massive success in setting themselves challenges in Scrap Mechanic and then tackling them separately but recording them for webisodes together in a humorous way.
YouTube has then rewarded them with in video advertising sharing which has probably earned them a lot of money judging by the earnings of the other YouTube personalities income.
The way you could do this is to:
This method is only really relevant to the better gamers out there. Offering a Premium Player Training Server is like offering a tailored boot camp to players that will help them get better at a game.
Lots of players out there want to be the best and with e-sports getting bigger and bigger with more luxurious awards and prizes the demand increases. If you have a skill that is transferable in game you could charge by the hour or make an automated training system that you charge access too.
A game that is very popular right now that keeps players coming back again and again is Rust. This game requires players to know how to battle and build bases to survive and the veteran players gain a lot of knowledge making them a sort of in game Bear Grylls that are harder to fight against.
If you posses knowledge that would be beneficial to new players then you too could create a server that is password protected and then advertise online that you will train players for an hourly fee.
The hardest and most technologically demanding way of Making Money From Game Servers is by offering game server hosting services to players.
We have seen many game hosting companies come and go in our time, we (the guys behind CompareGameHosting) even used to run one before we set up this site so we know of the challenges and work involved. Setting up a game server hosting company is no easy task but if you have a love for maintaining servers and dealing with gamers then you may have the skills needed.
The other side of the puzzle though is finding the customers, a knowledge of marketing and SEO is golden to survive. Getting a listing on our site would be the easy route but being a new company with no history will get you no where with us until you have proven yourself. Our sign up process is extremely thorough and time consuming, with new hosting companies messaging us daily.
Another major downside to the business is the risk, companies like Fastpoint Gaming have shown us how fragile the business can be. They (as do pretty much all online businesses) relied on PayPal to manage subscriptions, but when they had a large number of refunds due to the difficulties early on with Ark servers they collapsed blaming PayPal for withholding money in case of more refunds when they had bills to pay.
A well run game hosting company can see profit margins of 75% (before tax) so the money is good. The problem is the marketing budget, so free traffic from SEO efforts is key to success in our experience.
Well if you read the whole making money from game servers report then hats off to you! We hope you enjoyed reading this and learnt a thing or two form our wisdom on the subject. If you have any successes we would love to hear them. If you have lost loads of time and money on something then let us know about that too!