What's a good place to start forming a game hosting company
I'm moderately involved in the indie game community and one thing I've noticed since Minecraft is the surge of indie games getting attention.
What I want to do is get a hosting site started to I can offer dedicated hosting for any variety of small indie games, ones which would be completely ignored by the larger game hosting companies.
I'm a recent Computer Science graduate from a good University, so I'm feeling very comfortable in my ability to pick up new technology and learn thing.
What I am finding is very little information on how to get started/where to look in terms of what I would need to host games.
I understand the idea at a very technical level, but lack experience regarding available software, and primarily the differences when working with a server somewhere else in the world rather than right infront of me.
If anybody has pointers, or good places to start reading I would be very appreciative. I'm trying to sponge up as much as I can and I'm really not finding much to sponge.
Experience with the technical side of things is very good to have when you start out. What I would suggest if your unfamiliar with starting up a gsp would be to get a really great game panel. My recommendation would have to be TCadmin, it’s very easy to get the files and setup games for almost anything you would want. A list of easily supported games can be found here http://tcadmin.com/features.php. Even if a game is not listed there its still not hard to add it, (Check there forums someone most likely already has). I know some others may say this and that about another panel being better and I say if you find that panel is better than use it. I am suggesting simply off my past experience running a gsp. Now for the game files for each game a lot of locations can be found on the TCadmin website or via their forums. If your not able to find the files for the game you may have to visit the game or game developers website to see if they have a download for it, if not you may have to contact them directly to see if they are able to provide them. Just remember that this can be a lot of work and take a lot of time, you need to be patient and do as much research as you can for setting up. TCadmin also comes with some great instruction guides when you purchase it. Hope this was helpful!
Here is my start up list to become a GSP - basically what I did almost 10 years ago before being a full time software developer
pick a name, buy the domain
plan the games you want to host, buy them
build a nice looking website with a wiki, forums and more
max out your servers with games to test- load them up with players and see how well they do
after testing figure your cost per slot
create an advertising budget for google, msn etc
if youre going to use a panel do so now
get ready! you should go live very soon - keep testing, planning and learning
go live! advertise, tell your friends, offer intensives to try your new company out
My 9 point list covers the basics, my $0.02 only. I've been in the industry since 2001 and have seen thousands of up start GPS's come and quickly go. Many people do not plan anything - and those that do - tend to be more successful.
One main point missed was creating a company. Depending on where you are located you may be required to create a DBA, LLC, LTD or Corporation to do business online.
While it is not require in certain locales and under certain conditions, you should research it.
Second main point is to create a business plan including a budget. Your company will NOT start making you money immediately. You will not to expect losses for a while. Can you sustain these losses and continue to run your business and pay the bills? If so, for how long?
I cannot reiterate enough what everyone else has said and the importance of a solid and well thought through business plan. GCPHOST made some critical bullets that should be accounted for in your business plan however his points should be expanded 10-100 fold in your own business plan. This is an online industry it is incredibly easy to form a startup business overnight, however you will only be fighting three years later if you have thought through your approach. Too common it seems people let their excitement overcome them in starting an online business and you see them jump in with little consideration.
This industry is tough. The market is not very large and there is a lot of competition. Clients bounce around between hosts month to month and you are faced with people that cannot pay their bills monthly (predominantly kids). If you plan to last longer than three years, a reasonable point to become established, you will need to be funded. A treasury will protect you from these month to month financial challenges of paying the bills.
On target of finances you will need to decide if you will own or lease your equipment and software. This industry is easy to jump into as all of the resources are available for lease. It is common knowledge that the more leased services you build up month to month the more rapidly your monthly income demands become, unfortunately this is often overlooked by overnight startups. You have to construct a plan that will reduce your monthly payout burden.
I wish you luck with your endeavor and there are many people on this forum that will help you as much as they can. If you would like to see an example business plan for this type of business let me know, I wrote one up about 5 years ago (obviously outdated) however never followed through.