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PlayFab Multiplayer Servers 2.0 (Thunderhead)

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PlayFab's multiplayer server hosting service allows you to operate a dynamically scaling pool of custom game servers in Azure.

All PlayFab indie, pro, and enterprise tier customers can access the service and use a limited, free quota of multiplayer servers for product evaluation and testing. Because we're still improving the portal experience, samples, and documentation, this service is in a preview mode. During this public preview, if you're interested in operating the service at production-scale, you will enjoy a 30% discount. The preview period and discount are expected to end in March 2019.

There are three key concepts to PlayFab multiplayer servers:

  • Game server executable. This is the application that you are running in Azure. This server may be a simple network repeater, a fully authoritative game server running physics and AI, or anything in between.
  • Build. This is the game server executable, packaged with assets and certificates needed to run the game. This content can be uploaded as individual certificates, zip files, and/or a container image. If you do not need a custom container image, you can use PlayFab managed Windows containers.
  • Game server. A container running your game server executable. There may be multiple servers running on a single virtual machine.

These are the typical steps for using the service:

  1. Author game server. Scaling your server requires integration with the PlayFab game server SDK (GSDK) and testing the server executable in a container. You can download a mock agent and the Windows container image PlayFab uses for local development.
  2. Upload game server executable and assets. Upload the server and manage builds through Game Manager or PlayFab APIs and SDKs.
  3. Scale game server build. Once you've uploaded server assets you can create builds. PlayFab dynamically creates and recycles virtual machines to fulfill player demand and maintain standing-by levels you specify.
  4. Measure player latency. When players initiate a multiplayer experience, send UDP messages to PlayFab quality-of-service (QoS) beacons to measure network latency to Azure.
  5. Request multiplayer server. When players need a multiplayer server, request one to be allocated from a build's standing-by pool. This request can come from a lobby or matchmaking service you operate, or directly from a client calling PlayFab.
  6. Connect and play. PlayFab will fulfill a server request within 1 second if standing-by servers are available. Once a server has been put into the active state, clients connect to the server and play.


Conceptual Documentation

Reference Documentation, Samples, and Tools

Game Server SDK & Samples

Frequently asked questions

I am using Unity. Do you have a sample of a Unity-based game interfacing with the game server SDK?

We do not have a Unity sample demonstrating PlayFab Multiplayer Servers, but should have one by January 2019. A small group of preview customers have gotten the C# GSDK to work with their Unity-based game server but it is not a straightforward experience.

Only 14 Azure regions and 4 VM series appear currently supported. Can I get access to additional series or regions?

Please contact the team through PlayFab support as we are adding additional series and regions in response to customer requests. The current selection are the most popular options used by several games in production.

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