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Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

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Old 07-08-2019, 05:50 PM   #1
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Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

Hi everyone. I’m David Winter, the lead developer for Maximum Football (among other things). Thank you to everyone that has expressed an interest in the game. The small team here is pretty excited about what we’ve been able to accomplish since the end of last year. We’re shooting for a game trailer in August and I hope everyone will enjoy the huge changes and improvements we’ve made since 2018.

As this is my first post on O.S. I thought I’d cover something that a lot of people have asked about – online file hosting for Maximum Football.

When it was announced last week that Maximum Football would not have any official college licensing, the conversation naturally moved on to “Provide the tools so the community can do it.”.

Obviously, this would be ideal, but for launch (at least), the game will not have any form of built in online file hosting.

“But David other sports titles have online file sharing!!!” Yes, I know, and there many reasons why we will not. Here are just a few;

Basic Development - Coding the ability to have the game connect to a server and load data from an xml file is a rather trivial thing to do. I could build that in a few hours. In fact, the game can already download in-game stadium advertisements from a server, that functionality has just never been switched on for production builds.

Unfortunately, being able to read an xml file from a server is about 0.1% of what needs to be done to create a professional – and secure – paid file hosting service for a console video game.

Servers – As it is not possible to allow a console title to connect to a random server or your PC, Canuck Play would need to lease cloud server space from a major provider. (well okay, it’s technically possible, but the title would never pass certification. First party simply doesn’t allow that.)

Potential providers are Amazon WS, Rackspace, or similar. These services are designed for several hundred (to several thousand) consecutive connections and have a 99% up time commitment. Leasing server space of this type is a couple of thousand dollars (USD) per month at minimum.

The Website – The servers above don’t come with any sort of UI. Basically, it’s just an IP address and a connection to some hard drive space. To do anything useful, we would need to build a website and the back end infrastructure for it to talk to. I have no idea how to do that sort of development, let alone make it secure. Even if I did, I don’t have the time to do that and build the actual game.

The Game – Once you have built a website with an account management system, you need to build a similar system into the game. Building an in-game account login system that meets all of first party requirements is not trivial.

Development Staff – Building the account management system (including payment processing) to allow you to go to the game’s website (above) then create/log into an account requires a dedicated development team. We occasionally get people that want to volunteer their time, and these people have the best intentions, but volunteers are not a practical solution.

A volunteer will not accept a wake-up call at 2am should something go wrong. Nor can you hold volunteers to any sort of rigid schedule.

You do not want the security of your account (aka your money) to be in the hands of an intern level or volunteer developer.

You need (at least 4 to 6) well paid professional developers. During my time as Product Director for a Free To Play shooter game developed in Montreal, the person responsible for leading our platform development team and ensuring user account security was being paid over $15,000 a month. (He was paid more than the Product Director!)

Unfortunately, at the moment, we have no budget for that.

Legal Staff – In order to provide a file hosting service, we would need to work under the same process that websites like YouTube and 2K work under. And by that, I mean allowing any content to be uploaded, but then having legal staff on hand to deal with the copyright infringement notices and take down orders. Legal services are not cheap and again, we have no budget for that.

Canuck Play would be required to lease and manage the servers the game connects too. That would make Canuck Play legally responsible for the content on that server. If a customer uploads a trademarked logo, we are legally responsible for processing the take down demand and removing it. This is how other sports titles with file hosting features, and websites like YouTube, work. They have a small army of humans monitoring and removing content.

Some have suggested that having actual lawyers isn’t required but that’s not quite correct. The law requires that take down orders be responded to within a time limit. There is a process for that which would require legal expertise. So yes, you may have general staff doing much of the grunt work (the lawyer probably isn’t the one deleting the actual files), but you need a legal expert dealing with the specifics of the paperwork.

Customer Service Staff – Once we start operating our own paid services, we need staff on hand to manage customer issues. This could be anything from dealing with credit card issues ("My little Jimmy is using my credit card without permission! I want all my money back!”), to complaints from customers who had their content taken down (see Legal Staff above). Again, these are paid staff people using a paid for service such as Zendesk or the like.

Office Space – Right now, Canuck Play (me) works out of office space at the Peterborough Innovation Cluster. Eric works out of office space in Hamilton, and Josh works out of office space in Wisconsin. If we’re scaling up development and support staff to accommodate this feature, we need a place to put them – you do not want your account security managed from someone working out of their basement. That means we would need to grow office space and acquire the equipment required for them to do their jobs. Office space for 10 people is going to be, at minimum, 2k a month.

Additional Costs To You – This would not be a free service. The base game will have a target price of something around $30 USD. This base price would not cover any of the expenses of a file hosting service. There would be an additional fee on top of the base price – likely a monthly subscription fee in the $5 to $10 USD range.

Why would the cost of this service be higher than other similar services? Scale. We simply will not have the subscriber count required to spread out the costs over more people and keep them lower.

Keep in mind also that payment processors such as PayPal or Stripe take a significant fee per transaction. That $5 monthly payment really becomes about $3.50.

Financing – People have told us they would be willing to pay for a service once it’s there. While that’s great to hear. Love the enthusiasm, sadly though it doesn’t pay for the upfront development costs.

At the moment, none of the company leadership (Eric, Josh Garity, or myself) take a pay cheque from the title yet. All revenue from the 2018 edition has gone into paying for development of 2019. This included 3 days in a professional motion capture studio in Toronto, hiring of a professional 3D character modelling service in Montreal, paying for animation post-processing work, sound engineering, web site design & development, marketing and promotion, updating development hardware, etc, etc, etc…

Sales from 2018 did not generate enough revenue to pay a large staff to build and maintain something as complex as a file hosting service.

Eric and I have had many conversations with Angel investors and VC’s (including members of the group that purchased the Operation Sports website) however none we have spoken to have any interest in putting money into development of a sports video game – especially one not driven by a professional (or college) license. No licensing is a big problem for investors.

For those that are not aware, when I started this venture back in 2015, Canuck Play had two investors interested in putting in some cash if there was a CFL license attached (it was a Canadian only game back then). When the CFL told us to screw off, we lost those investors and I’ve been bootstrapping development out of pocket since then (with Eric coming onboard in 2018 to finance marketing).

When you are bootstrapping out of pocket, with no investors, it takes a lot longer to reach your goals, and some goals are simply going to be continually out of scope.

No Guarantee of Return – There is no guarantee that we would have a large enough base of players paying that additional fee every month to offset the cost of development and maintenance.

There is a strong potential that we would have to shut down the service after only a couple of months if not enough people are paying the subscription – we cannot afford to subsidize the service.

Online file hosting is a feature we’ve spent a lot of time looking into and have done our due diligence. We would love to add it. It does make sense. We continue to look at the options and see what we could do. But without a minimum of a 400k investment to pay the upfront costs of building such a service the challenges of adding such a feature remain.

Thanks
David


Last edited by Steve_OS; 07-08-2019 at 11:07 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 07-08-2019, 07:27 PM   #2
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Re: Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

Dave, this post was very well written and hopefully give a better insight for anyone that doesn’t understand its more than just adding “some code”.

With enough support and sales, maybe one day, that feature can happen. I’m excited for this game and I think getting the gameplay and dynasty depth where it needs to be is the biggest priority for this title.

Give me good solid gameplay and a deep dynasty, with the guy you have on rosters, the fictional side will take off.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:35 PM   #3
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Re: Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

Just code a server. Not that hard. Geesh.

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Old 07-09-2019, 09:26 AM   #4
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Re: Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

Thank you for taking the time to explain this. A lot of us who are starving for a new college football gaming experience will be excited for a game with a deep, immersive college dynasty experience as well as great gameplay regardless. With all things, itís a process. If the gameplay has improved as much as promised, itís only proof that the Maximum Football franchise will continue to improve as time goes on. I canít wait to see whatís in store for this year!
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:34 PM   #5
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Re: Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

I know you said you hope to have a trailer out in August. Is there an estimated release for the game and will we be able to pre-order? If so, do you know a date we'll be able to pre-order?
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:21 PM   #6
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Re: Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

Quote:
Originally Posted by King of Kings
I know you said you hope to have a trailer out in August. Is there an estimated release for the game and will we be able to pre-order? If so, do you know a date we'll be able to pre-order?
Game will be releasing in September. We're looking into what we can do with pre-orders.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:00 PM   #7
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Re: Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

Great explaination! Really appreciate the time you took to write that out. Looking at who has roster and or file (asset) sharing now, I guess I can see they are larger outfits:

MLB The Show - Sony
Madden - EA
NBA 2K - 2K
NBA Live - EA

Super Mega Baseball - also an indie developer does not and I guess this finally explains why.

The other niche titles that do have roster sharing are not indies per say, I suppose:

Rugby League Live 4 - Big Ant
Rugby Challenge 3 - Wicked Witch
Cricket - Big Ant
Tennis games ? (dont' know for sure)

I suppose the only thing listed you wouldn't need is credit card watchers? Paid content is not in this game, right?

So I guess even me, one of the loudest voices for roster and file sharing, can now understand.

Again Thank you, David Winter!
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:36 PM   #8
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Re: Online File Hosting and Maximum Football

Thanks for this write up, David.... I like the fact you took the time to explain this to people.
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