The project concept
Multiplayer games are one of the perspective evolution directions of mobile technologies market. Popularity of on-line games grows in connection with increasing number of users of mobile services and improving of quality of the offered content. The users who are in different parts of the world can play and communicate among themselves, using high-quality and convenient service of multiplayer games.
Service of multiplayer games is the service, on the one hand being used by subscribers as a gaming platform, on the other side - by providers of content, providing customers with a convenient way of payment for the content used and advertising information required. The company that provides the service of multiplayer games, hereinafter be referred to as "service provider" or "provider of the game". The content provider means a provider of mobile services, i.e. with its target audience and having different channels of communication with her.
The use case of service is provided in the following figure:
Components of service are the game server and a database representing a game platform, and also a web-site with the descriptions and distribution kits of games. The subscriber, using the Internet by means of technical capabilities of the phone (GPRS, CSD, WAP), is connected to a game server and plays online games with other subscribers, regardless of their location, and of belonging to the mobile operator. The subscribers pay for gaming services by sending SMS-message with a digital code to the service number of the content provider. The billing system of content provider handles SMS-request of subscriber, extends his subscription for the gaming service, and sends a response message to the subscriber. In order to connect the caller to a gaming service, or to renew your subscription, the billing system of content provider must be technically connected to the game server database.
Physically, service of multiplayer games can be located on one dedicated or virtual server (VDS / VPS) with a connection to the Internet. In another embodiment, all components of the service may be hosted on different computers. The service provider can select and configure any configuration, as there are no technical issues for that.
- to set service, to integrate the billing system with it and to provide the multiplayer games only for your own audience of users;
- to set the service and provide an access to it for content providers. In this case sales channels of online games are being extended significantly. The bigger number of subscribers has an opportunity to play multiplayer games, and thus the income from the service is increased.
The business model of online games
One of the complexities of online games is that they use a remote gaming server that requires regular payments for its support and Internet traffic. In order to a service of multiplayer games be successful and profitable, users must pay a monthly fee for its use.
Upon game purchase the provider creates the account (login and the password) for the subscriber which are entered by the subscriber in game settings and are used for access to a game server. The account identifies the specific player and is valid for all online games from this service. At any time, using a single account, you can only play in one game: having two phones with the same account, you can not arrange a simultaneous game with two opponents, as this requires two accounts.
To play any game, the user must pay a subscription (a license). Generally subscription valid for one month, although the game provider can change this value to any other. During this time the user can play as many games as he wants. When the subscription expires, access to the server is blocked and when you try to access the server, the game displays a warning: "Get a license to play." If the user wants to play again, it makes a payment and the subscription is extended to the next month.
How to provide the user with a convenient way to purchase an account and pay a regular subscription? It's very simple - he has a mobile phone that can send SMS, and the subscriber's account. Having received SMS from the subscriber, content provider debits the subscriber's account a certain amount, it extends the subscription for the next month or creates a new account, and then returns the result to the subscriber request in an SMS response. For example:
The same user can buy as many accounts as he wishes. It can also subscribe to several months in advance for any game, sending several consecutive SMS. After playing, say, two weeks, he can prolong his license before it expires, in this case, the new deadline for the subscription is added on to the already available.
This business model is convenient for the subscriber and beneficial for content provider. If the user wishes to play, he makes payment of a subscription for the next month. If the game bored him, he can stop playing it for a few months or even a year. After some time, he can come back to the game by paying a subscription, as his account is always stored on the server. The content provider also receives a monthly income from subscribers who play online games.
The game server is intended for any turn-based games with two players. Using a network library, the server connects the clients with each other and transmits information from one player to another. In addition, tasks of the server include user authentication, finding the opponent with the same level, carrying the statistics of games. The server can serve any number of games at the same time, association of new game to the server won't demand its setup or modification.
Inside the operating system server acts as a service, i.e. it has no user interface and is started automatically during system startup. Information, warnings and error messages are written to the event log for the applications.
The players database provides high performance and reliability of information storage. Data backup can be performed during operation of the server. Built-in protection allows you to distribute access to the database and provide the highest level of security.
Integration of a software of content provider with service of multiplayer games
In order to a user of the game can get a new account, and therefore the access to the game server, as well as pay for a subscription, the software of a content provider should be integrated with the gaming service. Software of a content provider interacts only with the database of the game server. No additional integration is required. The interaction with the database can be carried out via the HTTP-Gate of the service of multiplayer games or go directly to the database server.
- purchase of account;
- purchase of another license (subscription) for the game.
The account of content provider is necessary, first of all, for provider of service in order to collect usage statistics of a game server. For example, the provider of service will have data on that, how many game licenses were sold to each of content providers "A", "B" and "C".
To play online games simply: the selection of opponent occurs automatically when you connect to the server and the user only needs to press one or two keys to make the next move. During the game or after its completion, you can choose a new rival, and request statistics for all past games, and see the number of points. In each game there is a chat which can be advertized as the cheapest means of communication when the interlocutor is in other country.
In the online games there is necessarily a single player mode, where the user can train before the competition with a live opponent. Also, a single mission will entertain the user while waiting for a new opponent, when gaming activity on the server is not so high.
To communicate with the server Java-games use TCP protocol, so that possess a number of advantages over existing network games, the most important among them - scanty traffic, which makes them attractive for users. The average amount of received / transmitted data for one game is 10-15 Kbytes, which in monetary terms is less than the cost of a single SMS message.
The process of installing online games in a user phone becomes easier. Because the access to the game server is carried out on the account basis, and it is impossible to use the service without paying for a subscription, the distributions of games can be freely distributed in any way. The user can easily go to the WAP-site of content provider, download his favorite game, install it to his phone and play the single player mission. It can be seen as demonstration of the game. If the user likes the game, he pays for a subscription and starts playing with real people. This scheme is much easier than the current, as subscribers do not need to type long WAP-link that is valid only for 24 hours - the user types a short and memorable address of WAP-site. Moreover, in the future he will be able to freely download game updates, if those appear.
All games are included in this service of multiplayer games are designed on the same gaming platform and use identical architecture. Thanks to it the new games can be developed for this service in the shortest possible time (till 2 weeks on one game). Games are ported on the wide range of phones, which covers all leading vendors of mobile terminals: Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Siemens, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel.
WEB / WAP site is desirable but not mandatory element of multiplayer gaming service. The description and distribution kits of games can be on the sites of content providers. The table of records can be also created (by means of SQL-request) by content provider since he has access to a database of a game server.
Nevertheless, it is desirable for provider of service to have the site where users would be able to get detailed information about the games, answers to frequently asked questions, look at the table of records, use the forum to discuss the game and download the distributions and updates.
In addition, the site can accommodate alternative systems of payment services, such as Web Money and E-Gold. The flow of money from these systems bypasses the mobile operator, which takes typically about 50% of the game fee, and gets directly to the content provider. The content provider decides himself how to allocate these additional funds. For example, if the user pays within an electronic system, the fee for the game usage can be much cheaper.