If you’ve ever participated in a LAN party, they’re pretty awesome. A bunch of people get together with computers and one box acts as the gaming server. Lag is basically nonexistent, and that’s just plain cool.
You may have the idea that you want to run your own public, as in "public to the internet", gaming server. I recommend against this for one reason:
To be more specific, data pipe. To be even more specific, bandwidth. You on your consumer-grade ISP connection simply don’t have enough bandwidth to run a gaming server without encountering staggering amounts of lag. In addition, it’s probably true that for whatever game you’re running you will not be able to exceed 8 concurrent users – and that’s being generous (you’d be lucky to get past 6 no matter how fast your server box is).
Now of course, you could upgrade your connection to what’s known as "business class", allowing for much better upstream – but this still isn’t good enough because you only have one pipe. Yes, you could pay for two pipes, but at that point you’re looking at $200+ a month just for data connectivity.
What’s the better option?
Rented co-located server, sometimes known as "dedicated" server depending on how the web host provider describes it.
"Going co-lo" basically means you have a box on the web host provider’s network that is 100% yours, not shared by anyone and is connected to their data pipe, which is in multiples and has redundancy (that’s a good thing).
The best part is that dedicated setups on web host providers usually start at around $100 a month; that’s way cheaper than buying the data pipe needed yourself.
Need a place to start? Go here: http://www.ultimategameserver.com/Colocation
If you find co-location is too much of a cost burden, rent a specific game server instead and you can shim down the cost quite a bit.
Important note: I’ve never used the UGS web hosting service and have absolutely no idea as to how good their data pipe is or their server reliability. As always, shop with caution.
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