One of the biggest challenges facing any independent game developer is keeping costs down. Finding an affordable, reliable host is not an exception and many indie studios are unsure what to do. In this post, we explore some of the options – and make some recommendations based on our own experience.
What to host
The first thing to decide is what you wish to host. Will you have one website for your studio featuring all of your games or will you have a separate website for each? If you can afford the cost of buying a domain for each, we’d definitely recommend going down that route. Having a dedicated website for each game looks professional and will do much better with traffic from Google and other search engines. And besides for the costs of the domains, it doesn’t have to be that much more expensive.
Many indie developers go with a press kit these days, and that’s definitely a good template for presenting your information, but nothing beats a custom tailored website to present the game itself. This site doesn’t have to be large, but you do want to ensure is that it contains information about the game, clearly explains what the game is about and contains plenty of screenshots and videos in the media section.
Last but not least, ensure you have a clear way for any press to contact you. This is vital if you want your game to get any real exposure. You also want to make sure that it’s easy to download or grab your screenshots and embed your videos, and don’t be protective and make it hard to use either. You want people to share them and re-post them elsewhere as this essentially provides you with free advertisement.
Where to host
Choosing a host can be a total pain. There are so many hosts out there that finding a decent one really isn’t that straight forward. Over the past 15 years, I’ve literally used two dozen hosts – but only two have really managed to impress me, albeit both in very different ways. One due to reliability and support, the other due to a combination of price and ease of use for even the most novice user. And above all, both are very affordable. To top it off, I’ve located some discount codes which should knock a decent chunk off the price.
RamNode – If you don’t want to use shared hosting, have enough technical knowledge to manage your own server and want an absolutely great deal on a VPS Server – we couldn’t recommend RamNode more. They offer both SSD and SSD-Cached servers in Atlanta, Seattle and The Netherlands, and both their performance and support are amazing.
We recommend a 512 or 1024mb VPS to start with, the latter being their optimal offer in price vs performance – as it gives you access to 4 CPU cores and the price is comparable to shared hosting.
Since this is your server, you can host as much or as little as you want on it – including Teamspeak servers or anything else you may require.
Cost: $3.75 – $15 / Month. (Depending on server configuration)
With Discount Code: $2.80 – $11.25 / Month. (RN25OFF – Lifetime 25% Discount)
DreamHost – If you wish to host one or multiple sites, but are not entirely comfortable with managing a server yourself and want an easy to use interface – we recommend a shared hosting package from DreamHost. You can host an unlimited amount of websites and E-mail on just 1 Package. One free domain registration is included in this package.
Cost: $8.95 / Month.
With Discount Code: $60.40 / Year ($5 / Month) (INDIEDEV47 – One-time $47 Discount)
WordPress.com – If all you need is a blog and you really don’t want to pay anything at the moment – WordPress has you covered. We recommend forking out the relatively small cost for your own domain and proper hosting though, as this looks more professional and provides you with far more flexibility in developing a nice website for your game / project. And most importantly: it allows you to use an e-mail address which looks a lot better. A fair few gaming websites will not take you serious if you e-mail them from a Hotmail, Gmail or other free e-mail address.
Who do we host with?
The ManaPool website is currently being hosted by RamNode, using CloudFlare as our CDN. We use DreamHost for our E-mail service as this was less of a hassle than setting it up on our own servers.
We’re also in the process of migrating our 512-slot Teamspeak server to RamNode, and negotiating the possibility of hosting several Game Servers with them as well.
If you have questions, or need further advice – just leave a comment below. We’ll try to help where we can. Meanwhile, we wish you the best of luck with your new indie project. Make sure to share it with us!