Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How can a game developer make money on P2P / torrents?

Q: How can a game developer make money on P2P / torrents? 

A: By not paying for traffic generated by customers downloading his game installer and patches. 

We have been hosting our installer and updater files on different hosting services - at the beginning we used one non-name hosting company, then Amazon S3, and then CDN77.

  • Non-name hosting wasn't good because they had a download limit. Once reached they shut us down.
  • Amazon S3 couldn't guarantee download speeds and was twice as expensive as CDN77
  • CDN77 is reliable and works well, but still costs money

In the world of file hosting, you usually pay for traffics (downloaded and uploaded Gigabytes).
Price ranges from $0.049 to $0.1 per Gb.

We used to pay few hundreds of dollars per month - that's not brutal, but I didn't like it for two reasons:
1) we could use that money for something else (drugs, alcohol...)
2) if the traffic grows up, we could end up paying thousands per month!

For this reason I was always playing with an idea of exploiting torrent protocol. In this case the files won't be streamed from our server, but from other people (peers):
1) people who are actually downloading and installing the game
2) people who volunteered to seed our files

The result is great. If you look on following stats you can easily spot the day when we switched to P2P :-)

It wasn't easy to find a programmer who can integrate P2P into our distribution method - but luckily we made it.

Other thing is that once we get on Steam, we wouldn't need to distribute files from our location (Steam would do that)...