Most modern cloud gaming services run on large data centers hardware. This solution has a fair number of advantages, yet there is also a very noticeable major shortcoming: distance between the server and the user. It may appear insignificant in a fairly small country, but the situation changes when you scale things up. The servers might be located in Moscow, but there will be users from the entire country including Vladivostok. This is when the distance from the servers impacts the ping and user experience.
Besides, while using data centers you are unable to scale things up fast enough. It is not even a matter of cost, there are only this many available data centers with the hardware to rent. As a result, you might end up in a situation when you have no way of responding to rapidly growing demand, offering users nothing but waiting in queues.
In 2020 Playkey faced the challenge of rapidly growing demand twice. First in Spring, during the lockdown. People were spending all their free time indoors. Naturally, many opted to spend the spare time gaming.
The second spike in demand happened in winter, after the release of Cyberpunk 2077. The number of gamers wanting to experience the latest CD Projekt Red hit in the cloud exceeded our best expectations. The company was able to find the resources to rent from one of the hosting providers, though this solution ended up being rather pricey.
A few years ago we had an idea of using powerful personal computers as servers. After all, there are always people willing to rent out their gaming PCs. Potentially there could be hundreds of users in every city. This appeared to be a perfect solution to the challenge of volatility in supply and demand as well as a way to improve the quality of streamed content.
The company started confirming this theory in early 2019. It all started with Alexey Lykov’s, (the CTO of Playkey) personal computer. The PC was placed in his apartment balcony, enduring all the tests and bringing joy to the nearest users by offering much faster response times. By the end of 2019, we had connected 10 computers connected to the decentralized network. Eight of the machines belonged to our partners. It was also the time when the network reached other countries. Alexey Khrapach from Ukraine became one of the first international partners and is still connected to the network to this day.
Alexey Khrapach: “Years of experience in the field taught me to look for an alternative source of income. It comes in handy when there is less demand in your primary service yet you still want to maintain a standard of living. I started looking for such sources way back in 2017. Based on my experience I decided to look for a start-up, as they were offering higher returns on investments. Once the business gets bigger, it gets either bought by a tech giant or the competitors appear and take a large slice of the pie. When I discovered Playkey, they did not have an affiliate network, there was just a roadmap and marketing team materials. I used virtual machines a lot in my main field, so I decided to give it a try and applied for the beta.
It’d been over a year since I applied. To be honest, I forgot about the application. As luck would have it, just as I finished building a powerful PC for my friend’s kid, I got an email from Playkey the next day. They were inviting me to join the beta testing of the affiliate network program. I connected to the network and became the first beta-tester after Alexey Lykov, of course. I really started getting into the industry of cloud gaming. However, the real game changer was the day when I first tried connecting to the server and using it. That was the moment when I realized the potential of the service. In addition to that, I was actively contributing to the development and growth of the project, which also became a nice touch. Long story short, I found a new hobby.
As for the prospects of further development, there are many more things than just the ones listed on the Roadmap. IT is a complicated field, but it offers limitless opportunities to those who work hard. Two years into the beta, we have gained enormous amounts of experience and great opportunities to build the largest decentralized network.”
The Part about Gaming Cafes
We kept on testing and growing the affiliate network in 2020. Having a dozen machines was more than enough for testing new theories and games. However, as the lockdown happened, the demand started increasing rapidly and it became apparent that we need to grow the network of our partners. To our surprise, we did not have to look for them. They found us instead.
The lockdown and regulations had an impact on all businesses, gaming cafes included. Their business was in danger, as the customers were no longer coming in, yet the bills to pay kept on coming. Owners of such cafes or clubs found out about Playkey all by themselves and approached us. They were planning on earning with Playkey.
There is an article on Medium which describes the experience of a Perm-based gaming cafe that joined the network during the lockdown. Although the business was not making as much money, as they would have made from physical users, this enabled the business to survive the hard times.
As a result of that, we welcomed eight gaming cafes into the network in the Spring-Summer season of 2020. The number of computers in the network grew from eight to 120. Our tech team had new difficulties to overcome: they needed to set up and test a whole lot of computers quickly. Fortunately, the challenge has taught us to make the process of connecting to the network simpler and more understandable.
However, it was evident that such places will not be connected to the network for long. Naturally, a great part of them have disconnected from the network as the lockdown restrictions were softened. Therefore, we turned our attention to attracting more partners. They were regular citizens of large cities, mostly Perm and Moscow though the network quickly expanded and grew to include partners from 20 regions of Russia and four other countries. The total number of computers in the network reached 130 which makes up a significant portion of all Playkey servers.
We needed to test more than just the software and hardware, different payout models also needed testing. At some point we were offering a fixed sum of $50 per one computer. Then we switched to the per minute basis and the income of the miners went up. Currently a single server generates a sum from $50 up to $90, which is comparable to cryptocurrency mining.
Here is top 5 of our partners based on their income in March:
The bitcoin price increase could lead some miners away from us, though it did not actually happen. Some were satisfied with the payments, others believed in cloud gaming more.
Besides, our affiliate network servers are also capable of mining. When the servers are not in use by gamers, they are used to mine Ethereum. This means that the servers are always in use, and all the generated profit goes to miners.
Many of the early miners are still connected to the Playkey network and work with us. These are the people who helped us configure the hardware and set up the software to enable Playkey users to enjoy popular games with minimum lag.
We sincerely and wholeheartedly thank Alexey Khrapach and Dmitriy Popovich for their invaluable input into the development of the Playkey network. You guys are simply the best. We would not be able to grow as fast as we do without you.
Playkey affiliate network keeps growing. We are ready to accept new partners and offer great terms for them. Apply on our webpage — https://playkey.io/en/miners/