Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by bit-tech, 13 Dec 2018.
3rd party online services are a double-edged sword: you're insulated (to some extent) from the whims of a platform-holder, and from the game developer going under. On the flipside, it's an additional single-point-of-failure, ties you to the whims of that 3rd party (Epic decides that Sony Have Been Naughty and offer no or a bare minimum service? Oh dear, a segment of your customer base is now impacted with little you can do), and the failure of that third party (or decision to end that service) takes out your game too.
These aren't theoretical concerns, they're things that have happened in the past. IGN's shutdown of Gamespy, Microsoft's shutdown of GFWL (though you could argue that was a platform-provided service rather than a 'true' third party service), the limitations of Steam's matchmaking APIs (requiring steam installed and operating, a no-go for many other services) resulting in fractured online offerings between stores, etc.
Of course the alternatives have their own pros and cons. Self-hosted online services can be utterly platform agnostic (e.g. Frontier's Elite implementation), but also are vulnerable to the whims or fortunes of the developer. Platform services can generally be relied on for the life of that platform plus a few years, but you know the party will eventually be over, you're beholden to the whims of the platform operator, and inter-platform interoperability will mean home-grown or third-party solutions anyway (or a fragmented userbase).
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