PatchKit vs Other Launchers

Piotr Korzuszek

25 January 2020

If you’re reading this, most probably you’re considering PatchKit as your game distribution system, and you want to know how PatchKit is different from already existing solutions on the market.

This is a series of articles explaining several cases where PatchKit may be used in favor of other solutions. With these, we’re aiming to genuinely point out where it may be better to choose a different solution and where it may be beneficial to use what we offer with all the costs in mind. There’s no point in acquiring users who were expecting a different kind of service, right?

What we will cover on other articles:

  • PatchKit compared to Steam
  • PatchKit compared to XSolla

PatchKit vs standalone launcher

There’s a lot of standalone launcher creators on the market that are targetting the low-budget segment of the game development, where their business model is mostly pay-once and use forever, including free support based on some unspoken rules. How does PatchKit launcher compare to those?

Main differences

First and foremost, PatchKit is a game distribution service. The launcher that we’re offering is a part of that service, not a standalone application. That makes it tightly integrated with everything that PatchKit offers, and this is a complete solution for distributing games to the players. You don’t really need to look for any other 3rd party services to get everything up and running.

By subscribing to the PatchKit account, you get access to the game management dashboard, where you can upload your game releases, customize the launcher behavior and release it just by a few clicks. The dashboard is also the place when you can collect analytics related to your distribution, like the number of downloads or patches.

While the launcher is a product built around the service, we treat it as an integrated part of the service. This means that we’re often responsible for doing any UI customizations for our clients. Comparting to standalone launchers, almost never the author would customize it for you. You’re receiving building blocks to do it by yourself. Of course, you can ask for help to get a better understanding of how to work with it, but mostly you’re on your own.

Last but not least is optional digital right management. No matter how bad it sounds, some developers may suffer a lot from their games being played without purchasing a license, to the level where they can decide to finish their business. That’s why closed platforms like Steam and App Store are so popular among the developers. With low to none possibilities of getting unauthorized copies, there are more people willing to pay.

Our launcher supports three optional methods of securing the content: By product keys, where any number of product keys can be generated and given away By user accounts By external authentication providers

All of these works on the launcher as well as on the CDN level. Being said, no content can be downloaded unless the user authenticates with DRM of choice.

Main differences summary

To summarize, let’s make a comparison table:

  PatchKit Standalone Launcher
Setup cost $0 $20 - $200
Customization By PatchKit or by the customer By the customer
Updates Always free of charge In most cases free, but minor updates only
Support By developers and support team By community and the developer
DRM Yes: product keys, user accounts, external authentication API support In most cases none
Web Dashboard Yes No
Comes with CDN Yes No
White-label Paid (variable price) Free

Comparing PatchKit vs standalone launcher costs

If you go to the PatchKit pricing page you may think that PatchKit is expensive and it may be too expensive for your needs. Well, that’s not true! In fact, PatchKit is a lot cheaper than distributing a game with an individual launcher!

Let’s set up one rule here. I won’t calculate any manhours, because the cost may be very different depending on how you value your time. It will be just the money you need to spend on the software and the infrastructure to distribute 1 TB of data in the US region.

First, you need the launcher software. Let’s assume it cost to be $50, so this is how you much need to spent initially. Then you need to choose a CDN. The one with a good value - - cost $0.12 per GB. It’s pretty costly, therefore let’s go with a cheaper one - Cloudfront - $0.085/GB. In terms of raw costs, this is mostly it. It’s easy to calculate now how much you will need to pay for getting your data distributed:

$50 + $0.085 * 1024 = $137.04

In comparison, PatchKit comes with a CDN and the only thing you need to pay for is the data transfer at $0.06/GB rate in the US region. Here’s the calculation:

$0.06 * 1024 = $61.44

But wait, this is not the final price! If you’re an indie developer, you can apply to our Indie plan, which gives you 500 GiB per month for free!. If you do, your cost would be:

$0.06 * 524 = $31.44

How about a scenario when you decide to ditch CDN and purchase one or more servers to serve your files to the players? That’s usually a good idea, but you need to be aware that you need to purchase pretty powerful server in each region your players are located to get them to download your game at a acceptable speed.

For instance, cheap VPS servers cost around $40 per month. Let’s forget about the data transfer costs for a while. With this configuration, you may want to set up at least two servers in the US on the west and east coast, one in the Europe, two in Asia and one in Australia. That makes six. So, what would be the price?

$40 / m * 6 = $240 / m

That’s the static cost of $240 per month independently if there are players downloading your game or not. It does not look pretty, does it? Unless you really know what you’re doing, this may be the worst option possible. Remember that we didn’t consider the time needed to maintenance all of these.

Cost summary chart

Let’s summarize everything what we said with a chart.

Is that all?

This is a series of articles, so remember to subscribe and say up to date with our next comparisons. If you wish to ask a question about anything included in this article, or if you have a general inquiry, please feel free to contact us.

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