Finding The Right Hosting For Indie Game Developers

Sean KumarWebsiteLeave a Comment

As I have benefited greatly from many resources on the internet, I’d like to “pay it forward” so to speak by sharing some of the things I’ve discovered so far in my journey as an indie game developer.

To kick off the blog, I’d like to provide one method of finding the right web hosting for a game developer’s needs. Any indie game developer will one day need to create their own website, whether it is to promote their game, provide downloads and support, or provide a contact email. Here are a few quick tips I used to settle on mine:

(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the web hosting companies mentioned below, other than possibly having used their services. I do not get paid for providing any links.)

1. Get a domain name.

First, you need to decide on the name of your company, or potential company. NameCheap was offering some good deals at the time, and it was recommended by a lot of websites, so I went with them. I read that it is recommended to keep your domain with a different company than your website host, I’m guessing just in case you get into a dispute with your hosting company and they cause problems with accessing or managing your domain name. I never had a problem before, but decided to put this into practice just in case.

2. What kind of hosting will I need?

This is the first step… what features do I need? What are my goals with the website? Unless you know for sure you’re going to have lots of traffic, most likely you’ll just need a shared hosting plan, which means you’ll be with a bunch of other websites on one server. There are even some free sites you could look into, but usually they come with drawbacks, like the website being a lot slower, or very limited storage and capability.

Most likely you’d want a website with unlimited storage and unlimited bandwidth, though often these aren’t really unlimited in practice. If you use up to much CPU time on your server, or if you’re using too much bandwidth as determined by your particular hosting company, they’ll suspend your account and ask you to upgrade to a higher paid service. At least the word “unlimited” gives you a little bit of piece of mind knowing that just in case you go over some arbitrary limit, you won’t have to pay extra.

3. There are so many web hosting companies out there, where do I begin?

Well, one way is to find out who hosts the websites you like to visit regularly. To do this, simply go to:

http://www.whoishostingthis.com/

and type in a website address.

This is to get a general idea, because some of the bigger websites you visit may not be using a host that is friendly to smaller websites. Notice that if you type in turiyaware.com, CloudFlare shows up as my hosting. Although it is the free service I am using to help improve the performance of my website, it is not actually the web hosting company I am using.

Another way is to visit one of the gajillion website review sites. Just google “best web hosting 2014” or whatever the current year is, and see all the review websites pop up. Start noting down some of the names and you’ll start to see some of the same companies show up again and again. Keep in mind that a lot of these websites do have some affiliation with particular hosting companies and get some money when you click on their links. Try as much as you can to be aware of any possible vested interests they may have.

After doing my own searches and reading up on lots of  reviews, I narrowed my list to the following choices:

There are a ton of other hosts out there that are equally viable, but these are the ones I settled on after reading various reviews about customer service, and after browsing their offered web hosting plans.

4. Do some more googling.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, start searching for reviews for these companies on google. You can even find out about their customer service on BBB’s site by seeing how they attempt to resolve any customer issues.

Look for review blogs or websites that show how fast particular hosts’ access and load times are, such as this one. Also try to find sites which review the general uptime percentages for companies on your list.

5. The finer details – features.

Go to each company’s website and start looking at the features for shared hosting. If you’re looking for easy one-click installs of WordPress or forums, etc., do they provide that? If you’re looking for more fine-grained control, do they offer support for a particular coding language that you need? Do they offer the standard cPanel access to your site, or a custom one?

Do they offer SSD (Solid State Drive) hosting to speed up access time on their shared plan? Do they give unlimited email addresses and databases?

If you’re having trouble, how can you get in contact with their support? Do they offer 24 hour phone, live chat, or only email support? If they have live chat, ask any questions you have and see how fast they are to respond.

What are their prices? Are they cheaper if you buy-in for 2-3 years rather than annually?

Try to keep all these in mind as you explore.

6. Room to grow.

If you’re games become successful, you’ll get a lot of traffic, and will be forced to upgrade your website to meet the demand. What kind of VPS, Managed VPS, Cloud, or Dedicated Hosting plans do they have? How expensive are they compared to the other companies? Do they let you select the amount of RAM or cores on your server so you only pay for what you really need?

7. Hold on, don’t order yet!

Before you click that order button once you’ve made your decision, start looking for discounts. Search your chosen company’s name with “discounts” or “coupons” and see what comes up. Even better, those website reviews you were wary of earlier because they are affiliates will now come in handy as many of them offer better discounts than you can find elsewhere.

I managed to get 30-40% (can’t remember the exact amount) off my hosting for 3 years because of some coupon codes I found on one of these blogs.

8. Make your decision and start making your site!

Although all this research can be a little time consuming, it will pay off in the end. You will hopefully be satisfied that you made the best choice for the money. I’ve been very pleased so far with the customer service of my hosting company, but it’s not that surprising since I researched them a lot before I settled on them.

Once you’ve ordered your website, now starts the time-consuming yet fun part. Actually creating your site. I’ll make a blog post soon about the process I went through for this.

9. Alternatives

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of designing/maintaining your own site, perhaps you can try out a service geared towards game developers. I was recently contacted by a site called ManaKeep that looks like it offers such a service and is currently in beta. I’m the kind of person that likes to do everything myself, so I haven’t given it a spin yet, but this might be up your alley if you want these things managed for you.

 

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the sites mentioned or linked to in this article, except for paying for an account on the host this website is hosted on.

If you have tips to add or if noticed some mistakes, feel free to post them in the comments section below. Thanks!

 

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