Back in 2013, 15-year-old Mitch Smith set up a new game server hosting platform for player-owned game servers (POGS) called Shockbyte with just $20 AUD. Fast forward to today and Shockbyte has just celebrated its 10-year anniversary with some impressive figures: 580K+ customers, 700K+ servers sold worldwide, 30M+ players and 35 games in its game hosting library.
The company’s success is even more impressive when you learn that it was born out of a Minecraft server that Mitch set up, which became so popular that he needed to buy more infrastructure to support it. The extra infrastructure space he didn’t use he rented out, eventually turning that service into a business - Shockbyte.
Fun fact: Despite being managing director, as Mitch was only 15, he had to use his dad’s PayPal account to purchase the Shockbyte domain.
Mitch is a gamer and so he understands what works first hand:
“I believe gaming is more fun when you play with others. Which is why Shockbyte is all about connecting gamers by providing an online space for them to play together. Whether that’s joining a random server to meet new people or playing with a group of friends.”
The beauty of POGS is that the servers are owned and operated by the player rather than the game developer.
For a monthly subscription fee, Shockbyte will provision a game server for the player and give them access to the control panel so they can customize the server to their exact requirements.
“Gamers like to have control over every aspect of the game – like changing the difficulty, rate of progression or installing mods and plug-ins,” explains Mitch.
“They are also always looking for something new and the joy of POGS is that every server is a new experience with fresh content.”
However, Shockbyte’s success means that it has grown – and quickly. That rapid growth has brought with it multiple varied infrastructure needs.
“Redundancy is a massive priority for us. We wanted to ensure that we weren’t tied to any one provider for our infrastructure needs by decentralizing our stack,” said James Hawkins, IT manager at Shockbyte.
“To do this, we needed to flex out our infrastructure across more locations. servers.com has data centers in the key locations we wanted to expand into.”
The additional locations and the redundancy we help provide are crucial to delivering an uninterrupted gaming experience, which is at the heart of Shockbyte’s ethos.
“If people are trying to play a game with friends and their server goes down, they simply won’t use us again. So, the entire gaming session has to be perfect and uninterrupted. Any lag or distraction due to poor performance could cause a player’s avatar to die or for the entire game session to disappear,” said Mitch.
“It’s why we have to trust and be confident in the infrastructure providers we choose to partner with. That means not just looking for the best price but for a provider that is reliable and is going to be around for the long-term. We recognized those qualities in servers.com.”
A huge part of that trust stems from good communication, especially when issues occur.
“As is always the case when it comes to technology, we have come up against a few challenges during our partnership with servers.com. But the team’s hands-on approach helped us find a solution quickly.
“Having a big group chat with the servers.com team, including a solutions architect, on Discord means that we simply post a message and receive a reply within minutes. Even if that reply just says ‘we’re on it’ – it’s so much faster than ticketing systems that take days to reply or sitting in a queue on the phone,” said James.
But it’s not just about reacting to challenges. It’s about proactively planning for them as well. Many of Shockbyte’s customers play Minecraft and when a new update comes out, the company needs to be ready with additional infrastructure to meet a (usually overnight) burst in demand for servers.
“We have already been in conversation with the servers.com team to discuss the upcoming Minecraft launch. We’re expecting an increase in demand, and we really appreciate the team’s proactive approach to securing additional servers in preparation,” said James.
Shockbyte’s major goal is to become the largest game server host in the world. To achieve that, it has to provide the best user experience on the market. Which is why everything the company does is centred around how it can make that experience better and more efficient.
“We are building a really great development team whose focus is on making an amazing core experience by going back to the basics and looking at how we can rethink and rebuild certain features. For example, we want to build our own software. A lot of the public software that other providers employ is hard to use and has limited features,” said Mitch.
“We are also looking at how we can be more efficient with the price of everything going up. A lot of that includes experimenting with different approaches. servers.com has been a fantastic sponsor of our development team by giving them access to free machines to play around on. Essentially, providing a developer’s playground.
“It has enabled us to experiment with L2 segments, assigning one massive subnet to a server, so that we can float the IPs across all of the servers connected to that same VLAN, rather than physically assigning multiple IP addresses to each server. With the price of IPv4s increasing, this is going to be a game changer for us.
“We’ve also been able to look at clustering our infrastructure with Kubernetes to help us use our resources more efficiently. With servers.com’s support we’ve been able to see how some of our potential ideas will work in practice.
“We have big plans for the future and it’s great to have servers.com working alongside us. I’m a massive believer that you should have fun at work, and we certainly have fun together”.
If you are a POGS platform or game server host and are looking to work with a trusted infrastructure provider, check out our gaming solutions.