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How creators launch and scale multiplayer games with Unity
MATT WOODS / UNITYSenior Product Marketing Manager
Aug 24, 2023|8 Min
How creators launch and scale multiplayer games with Unity

The gaming industry is one of the most challenging yet rewarding industries to be in, especially when it comes to multiplayer games. More than 400 multiplayer games have relied on Unity Game Server Hosting (Multiplay) to make incredible multiplayer experiences, everything from AAA blockbusters like Apex Legends to indie sensations like Among Us.

Read how studios of all sizes, using any game engine, have scaled to match their game’s needs.

Eleven Puzzles and Team17 save time and reduce costs
Still from Eleven Puzzles’ Unsolved Case

Eleven Puzzles integrated Game Server Hosting for its Unsolved Case players so that scale would never be an issue, no matter how many players joined in on the fun.

“I was looking for a hosting service that basically will do everything for us so we [can] almost exclusively focus on building games,” said Adrian Olczyk, CEO and cofounder of Eleven Puzzles. “If we didn’t use Game Server Hosting, I’d say it would maybe have taken 20 to 30% longer in development time.”

As well as your development timeframes, one of the biggest concerns when designing a game is likely cost per player. Choosing bare metal to host your game can offer several advantages, like consistent and reliable performance for real-time interactions between players. However, it’s not as flexible as cloud-based machines when it comes to instant scalability.

Game Server Hosting combines the performance of bare metal with the flexibility of cloud at a lower cost. Recent comparisons show that Game Server Hosting may reduce hosting cost per player by between 30–40%, depending on your game design, player numbers, and distribution (as of Q2 2023).

Similar to Eleven Puzzles, instead of managing its own hosting service or spending time and money setting up a fleet through a third party, Team17 leveraged Unity to deliver multiplatform titles like Overcooked! 2, which are all about crazy addictive fun with friends.

Niklas Hansson, head of technology at Team17, explained how the offering made sense and was cost effective, sharing, “We originally sketched out a scenario using Amazon’s matchmaker and server hosting, ignoring development costs. Just looking at server hosting costs, [Unity] was 30% to 50% of the price. Obviously, [Amazon] doesn’t have bare metal [and] could only offer cloud machines, which means you’re paying for the cloud costs all the time. If you massively overestimate the amount of servers you need, it would be a gigantic waste of money.”

Innersloth gets proven performance at massive scale
Innersloth Among Us Emergency Button

Maintaining reliable performance fosters player satisfaction, encouraging them to stay invested in your game for the long haul and keep them coming back for more. When player count starts to grow, you need to be able to scale up quickly with demand, meeting players where they are. This case study shows you how Apex Legends scaled up globally at launch.

Similarly, as Among Us became a sudden smash hit, Innersloth needed to ensure it could continue to provide an optimal experience for players. By partnering with Unity, they were able to deliver a stable online environment with Game Server Hosting (Multiplay), all while gaining the data they needed to deliver new features to their fanbase using Unity Analytics.

“The teams at Unity have honestly been fantastic partners to work with,” said Callum Underwood, founder of Robot Teddy, an agency that partnered with Innersloth on Among Us. “They understand games, they’re really easy to talk to, and, more importantly, they have always put our small dev team’s needs above all else.”

Geographical coverage is key for any gaming infrastructure and so is the ability to cope with any surge in demand. Game Server Hosting recently powered over 77 million game sessions globally and enabled studios to deploy to 290+ data centers worldwide, helping games thrive no matter where players are in the world.*

“When we’re thinking about how to scale, the fact that the infrastructure is there worldwide, and we’re distributing worldwide, makes it so much easier for us to reach our audience in the end,” said David Smethurst, former head of programming at Team17.

The speed at which players can start experiencing your game can have a significant impact on engagement and retention. This initial interaction sets the tone for overall perception: If players have to wait too long, they’ll lose interest even before entering core gameplay. When it comes to matching your players quickly, Unity was intentional in its design and chose a method that reduced time to match by up to 35% of other methods.

To manage this at scale, Unity stays one step ahead of the demand curve, maintaining a buffer of servers in a warm state to ensure that they stay ready for a surge in players. This is essential to a game’s successful launch and helps ensure that when the player count blows past even the most ambitious forecasts, there are servers available for everyone.

For the Apex launch, the platform supported over 3 million peak concurrent users with an uptime SLA of 99.95%, giving Respawn the confidence that their games’ success won’t be hindered by the infrastructure powering it.

Hi-Rez Ventures sets up one-stop shop
Key art for Hi-Rez Studios’s Divine Knockout

Game Server Hosting works great on its own, and since it’s part of Unity Gaming Services (UGS), you can get the increased benefits of the whole portfolio. UGS provides proven solutions to address the top challenges of running live multiplayer games at any scale, all in one place.

For example, when Hi-Rez looks for solutions for its multiplayer titles, the team targets live game services that are built to scale. In the case of Rogue Company, Divine Knockout, and other titles, this means multiplayer and live ops solutions with a proven track record in the studio from UGS.

“Things like Analytics, Game Server Hosting, all those things like really just fit in and made our platform stronger without us needing to do the work in house,” shared Alex Cantatore, vice president of brand marketing at Hi-Rez Ventures.

One way the studio uses UGS is to track character data from each game session played, allowing for thoughtful tweaks to damage numbers and unique abilities that lead to improved gameplay.

Unity Analytics can help fine-tune a new user experience and create an informative but concise tutorial that helps new players have the tools to jump right into games. Read how features such as Player Funnels can do this for your game, then take the lead of these incredible creators by implementing UGS solutions in your next project.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Launch and scale your next multiplayer title with Unity solutions. If you have questions about how to get started, connect with our team in the Multiplayer forums.

*Data for the time period July 8–August 8, 2023.