Yes Shirley, too many players at launch can be a big issue

Having too many players at launch should be a good problem to have. But it's easy for your servers to get overloaded and break. Here's how to avoid that.

Image source: Chivalry II

“What do you mean we’ve got too many players? That’s a good thing!”

Ah. Sadly, that’s not always the case. If you have too many people playing your game at once, then it’s easy for your servers to get overloaded. Slow load screens. Long queues. Lag. Even downtime. Either that, or you have to pay through the nose for cloud-based servers to take on the extra load.

Thankfully, there’s another way. The team here at Gameye recently had the pleasure of helping Torn Banner (developer) and Tripwire (publisher) launch Chivalry 2 back in June 2021. We released on the five major platforms all across the world. And within the first hour of the release, the influx of players was almost 100% more than projected. Not only did they have over 250,000 players at launch, but nearly one million players over the first month.

Launch day can make or break your game. But with a lot of prep, some new tech, and a ton of testing, we kept the sessions running, with zero downtime, no major issues or tickets, and for much less than a typical cloud service.

Here’s how we did it.

We introduced a different solution

Using a hybrid approach (a mix of bare metal and cloud) can mean you end up paying for idle machines that you don’t need. You send in your predictions and pay the amount (regardless if you use it all or not). And if you have a sudden surge of players and need more space, well, you might get large fees on top of what you’re already paying. Or your players will experience long queue times and lag as the servers overload.

So we introduced a new agnostic solution for Chivalry 2. Our tech combines the flexibility of typical hybrid solutions and the simplicity of a light switch. Got more players? Gameye automatically gives you more capacity. Got less? Use less. You don’t need to guess how much you’ll need. We take care of it with a fair and predictable pricing model.

We did a heck of a lot of testing

For any launch, be it big or small, you’ll need to do a lot of fine tuning. Especially if you’re working with new tech or a new partner. You’ll need to allow time to integrate, set up, walk through the processes, and most importantly, test as much as you can.

For Chivalry 2, we ran six alpha tests with real players. These were closed to begin with so people could join the server and play the game without any downtime. And each time we increased how many players we had, to test that our servers could scale and manage the load.

This proved to be vital. During our testing, we caught a problem with how the systems worked together. But because it was so early on we were able to fix it in just two weeks.

And we built up a relationship

Launching a large multiplayer game doesn’t come without its problems. With so many moving parts, different teams and tools in the air, it’s very easy for something to go wrong. We made sure to build trust with the team. So they had one less thing to worry about on launch day.

Knowing that we’ve done all of the testing, and put everything in place for a smooth launch, Torn Banner and Tripwire could focus their attention on other matters.

It may sound small, but if you don’t have a good relationship and trust your server provider, then you’ll end up worrying on the day, distracting you from any potential problems in other areas.

Zero downtime

So yes, having too many players can be a nightmare. But if you have the right tools set up, and have tested different locations and amount of players, then you can avoid any setbacks and give your players the best experience possible.

We’ve only gone over the basics for this story, there’s a lot more to setting up your multiplayer servers. If you want to get the full lowdown, read the entire case study. Or if you’d rather hear it straight from us over a virtual coffee, pop us a message.

We’d love to have a chat and figure out what’s best for you.

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