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Any backend solution alternative to PlayFab?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tomang5, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. tomang5

    tomang5

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    Hey everyone,

    I used to use PlayFab for the backend of my game. Since they changed their pricing, I am looking for a new backend solution that doesn't have a player limit. PlayFab currently has 10k player for free tiers, which is not enough to make money initially then buy higher tiers in my opinion.

    My game isn't a realtime multiplayer game but I have to save players' data somewhere and update them depending on the players' actions in the game. Is there any backend solution for games that doesn't have a player limit?
     
  2. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Nothing free. Your cheapest option these days is to create your own backend (or use an open source backend) running on a virtual private server.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2020
    Joe-Censored likes this.
  3. tomang5

    tomang5

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    You think, the maintain price will be lower than 100 dolar per month? And can it be reliable for the traffic that the players will create?
     
  4. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Yes and no. Cost for the server itself should be less than $100/mo. A basic virtual private server can be rented for as little as $5/mo and scaling it up as the game grows is generally as easy as requesting a larger capacity and waiting a few minutes for it to restart. Or you could choose a cloud server and have it scale as needed.

    That said time is money. You have to factor in the time it takes you to create or find a solution, set up everything, and check every once in a while to verify that everything is running smoothly. For some developers their time is worth far more than that $100.

    Yes.
     
    angrypenguin likes this.
  5. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

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    Lets say 10k active players in the standard tier costs you $100 + $100 of metered events. That means you need to make 0.02c per player per month. If you can't make that (through ads, subscriptions, donations or IAP) then your game isn't viable.

    Note that 10k active players will be heading towards a full time job just to manage the player base (fixes, updates, tech support, community management, etc).

    Maybe this is is useful for you (https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132437/what_are_the_rewards_of_.php)

    "The pivot number -- the number to focus on -- is not the $50 ARPPU but the $1-2 ARPU," he says. "That's the number that a new paying customer is worth to you. If that number were, say, 20 cents, you'd probably have a difficult time building a business."​

    i.e. at least according to these guys if your ARPU is 0.02c you are dead in the water by a factor of at least 10, and probably more like 50.

    In other words the PlayFab costs aren't going to be the limiting factor.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2020
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  6. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    I use Gamesparks, but they changed their pricing to be non-indie friendly, they used to have an awesome free tier.

    I would suggest implementing something like Azure Functions or AWS Lambda, they are basically API methods you can create, that you can use to perform cloud logic, such as saving/loading player data. Obviously you'd need the function to talk to a database instance in Azure/AWS too, for the storage.

    The nice thing about the functions is you only get charged each time they're called, you don't get charged for them just sitting there, although not sure about the database pricing. I'd recommend a NoSQL db for game storage.
     
  7. tomang5

    tomang5

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    If all the 10k users are unique then it is okay of course but since a user can create as many accounts as they want, that might be an issue. If everyone creates 2 accounts in the game, that means 5k users. This is the problem with the player limit. If the limit depended on MAU, it wouldn't be a problem. Currently, I don't think PlayFab is indie friendly anymore.

    I guess I'm going to setup my own server
     
  8. tomang5

    tomang5

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    As always, make a system that looks super friendly for no-budget businesses and once it's popular, change the system.

    Azure functions may come in handy, thank you for the suggestion
     
  9. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

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    Makes no sense: the Standard plan has unlimited players in Live games. A user could sign up a million accounts at no additional cost to you. The metering only comes in to effect when they actually login and play your game.

    There's no problem with creating your own server, but if you are actually serious about building a game that has a real player base this isn't a matter of spinning up a private server. You will get bombarded with hackers and DDOS attempts if you get any kind of success, so at minimum you will need multiple servers, load balancer, firewalls, monitoring, logging, backups, etc.

    It is all absolutely within the realm of a 'serious hobbyist' to do this, but you will be spending a lot of time on infra work, so if its not something you enjoy then its probably not the best course of action*

    ---

    If you are just building a game for your own enjoyment to maybe get a few hundred active players well then the free version of PlayFab is fine. If you get bombarded with some user creating a bunch of accounts you manually go in and delete them.

    ---

    * Not to mention you actually have to build your backend. You can get going in PlayFab or one of the other backend services in hours (if not minutes), but building a solid backend from scratch will be a large piece of work.
     
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  10. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    There is at least one solution available on Github under an open source license. I was originally going to link to it in my first post but I decided against it because I have no experience with it. It's designed to be deployed onto one of the major cloud servers.

    https://github.com/heroiclabs/nakama

    I completely agree that the effort involved in creating and maintaining your own server can very easily surpass the cost of a service like PlayFab, but I don't know how much I can agree with the idea that you will be hacked and DDOSed after any degree of success. I definitely agree it will happen at some point though.

    I just checked the pricing again and I noticed something this time around that slipped my mind the first time. It's not just unlimited players. It's unlimited live titles too. You can have as many live games as you want for that $99/mo.

    By comparison GameSparks is $299/mo per game as mentioned in their FAQ making them even less attractive.

    https://www.gamesparks.com/pricing/faqs/
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  11. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

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    Spinning up a server you will see that you start getting IP scans, and automated SSH login attempts almost immediately. On AWS it takes about 30 seconds from spinning up a public instance until the scanners start hitting you. It will take longer for IPs that aren't in a juicy target like AWS, but not long.

    We see minor DDOS attempts in our fintech startup at least every few months, the last was a sustained attack hitting up to 1k packets per second for several hours at a time. This is after the built in smarts of AWS. These days we are well known so maybe its not so surprising, but even in the early days when we had just a few customers we were getting focused attacks.

    If you have 10k active players you will be a target at some stage as you suggest, and I think probably much sooner than you think. You don't need targeted attacks either: DDOSing can be super powerful force in online games, for example causing a server to lag to stop people reacting to an attack.

    One thing to also consider is how the game responds to lag and delivery failure. If its players actions in a turn based game which includes timers and the like, then its pretty important. If its a slow paced game where you only need to make periodic updates with little impact of having to retry its much simpler.

    Again a lot of this also comes down to how serious the venture is. I mean if people are paying a subscription fee or spending real money inside the game there is some onus to deliver a good, outage, free experience. Even if you don't care about it morally a poor experience is probably going to negatively impact the size of your player base.
     
  12. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

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    PS If you want a service which might meet your needs at a lower cost try BrainCloud: https://getbraincloud.com/pricing-det/

    Their lowest cost plan is only $15 a month which includes unlimited users and 1 million API calls. Included storage in this tier is only 200MB, but you can add space at 5c per GB per month.
     
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  13. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Well, as it won't be successful by default, the home brew option can get things started. But then, the time investment for the home brew version would be the same as learning a decent BaaS, so if the cost of entry is very small, go with the managed service. Don't worry too much about scaling costs, these places are designed to scale like a greasy accountant.
     
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  14. tomang5

    tomang5

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    I think, you don't know the new pricing system. The free tier does have 10k players limit. Unlimited players is only available for paid tiers. As I said, that 10k player limit is not for unique players or MAU but just the number of accounts, which you cannot count how many unique players there are in the game.

    Manually going in and deleting accounts doesn't make any sense since there can be up to 10k accounts and you will never know if that user will come back and play the game again.

    I have enough time to make my own server and have an experiment. If the game becomes so popular, I of course consider to pay or hire people in order to maintain the services. No one would seriously try to shutdown an unpopular game. It's worthless.
     
  15. tomang5

    tomang5

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    I haven't used GameSparks but their system looks better than PlayFab. There is achievement systems, messaging etc. In PlayFab, it is just key-value pairs. You have to give the data meanings in order to make complex systems like achievement systems or a message box. (I couldn't find a proper word to describe it since English is not my first language but I hope you understand). The downside is their price is a bit high.
     
  16. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    He's very clearly aware of the pricing as he talks about the standard plan in depth. He's just completely ignoring the free plan as I'd expect most people to do. It's there for evaluation and for people making games for fun rather than profit.
     
  17. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

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    Hi @tomang5 let me take it back a step...

    I looked at your post history, it seems like you are new to this, and the simpler you make your approach, the more likely you will be to release something.

    You seem to be caught up on this issue of players creating too many accounts, when the much more likely issues are:

    1. you not finishing anything
    2. you not getting any players

    This is not said in a mean spirited way: its simply the problem with most indie games, even those from experienced teams.

    If you get to the point where you have people playing your game, and you problem is some of them creating too many accounts, then I think you can probably manage to find the few hundred dollars a month required to get support your games growth until your monetisation strategies kick in.

    (Not to mention I've already pointed out much cheaper services)
     
  18. TreyK-47

    TreyK-47

    Unity Technologies

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    Joe-Censored likes this.
  19. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    This is a CDN essentially, @tomang5 is looking for a full game management/player data backend solution.

    I'm surprised with Unity having moved to the services based approach with Jon Riccitello at the helm a full backend solution like GameSparks or Playfab hasn't been developed at Unity yet.
     
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  20. Metron

    Metron

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    That implies the implementation of network... And we all know how good Unity is in that domain....
     
  21. MadeFromPolygons

    MadeFromPolygons

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    Unity own multiplay. They can do networking just fine, what they so far have been crap at is creating a generic networking solution for unity. Their ability to run server based solutions is what all of their new services are built on top of, so I would imagine a playfab style service will eventually materialise in next year or two. It doesnt matter about unity < > networking current state, because they wont use unity to build it.
     
  22. Rodolfo-Rubens

    Rodolfo-Rubens

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    Doesn't UT own ChilliConnect? I wonder if they plan to make a tighter integration with Unity and its services or something in that regard.
     
  23. UnityMaru

    UnityMaru

    Community Engagement Manager PSM

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    Hey folks,

    Regarding my colleagues post - there may be some confusion as the service does offer a CDN, but also a back-end-as-a-service (BAAS), which from what we can understand is what the user asked for in the OP. The link posted does have a lot of useful information to understand the service and we emplore you to provide feedback to this as you see fit :)

    While we do advocate to users around necroposting, there are opportunities like this where we would reply to threads like this with up to date information in the event that users search/google for this information. There are countless dead threads with outdated information - some that provide valid workarounds/solutions to this day and some not. We want to try and help by updating these threads with updated solutions, and a thread like this would be an example.
     
  24. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    The OP asked for a player data management solution, where in the BAAS as you call it does it mention player data manipulation and saving of that data?
     
  25. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    I signed up for access to the service being discussed by your colleague, and like @Meltdown mentioned I was unable to find a service that enabled storing and manipulating player data which means that it's very much an incomplete BaaS from the standpoint of most Unity developers.

    Approximately half of the features advertised for Microsoft PlayFab cannot be duplicated with Unity's services.

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/gaming/playfab/what-is-playfab
     
  26. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Excellent, this is great to see. :)

    Since you specifically asked us for feedback, in this particular case it's not obvious how the solution fits the specific problem raised here.
     
    MadeFromPolygons likes this.
  27. UnityMaru

    UnityMaru

    Community Engagement Manager PSM

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    Hey!

    Yeah, your posts here since mine have really helped clear things up around the differences between the two so thanks for that. I'll feed this back internally :)
     
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  28. xjjon

    xjjon

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    PlayFab has updated their pricing and is free for the first 100k users (within usage limits).

    Don't think there is a public SLA / SLO they commit to, but here are the uptimes: https://status.playfab.com/
    It will be lower than the underlying Azure services they are hosted on.
     
  29. MrLucid72

    MrLucid72

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  30. pKallv

    pKallv

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    Is there any comparison with Unity Gaming service and PlayFab and others?
     
  31. MrLucid72

    MrLucid72

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    See the comparison chart above for a massive comparison. Unity gaming services isn't there, but they're... Probably the most featureless and most expensive of them all. It's not a great option, tbh, compared to others. Maybe one day.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2023
    pKallv likes this.