maciejorlinski1 avatar image
maciejorlinski1 asked

Why choose Playfab over Gamesparks?

I'm just staring a new project and I'm considering which BaaS provider to choose. I haven't used either Playfab nor Gamesparks before, and I was wondering, what are the key advantages of Playfab over Gamesparks? What made you choose Playfab instead of Gamesparks?


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Brian Jordan avatar image
Brian Jordan answered

For me, so far:

- If you're planning to use dedicated game servers, PlayFab will host & scale them, and the pricing model is so reasonable (a small % over AWS cost) it makes using them instead of rolling your own a no-brainer. (GameSparks has said they are exploring possibly providing something similar as well.) It's worked quite well.

- PlayFab's API documentation and Q&A forums are fantastic. Googling for answers to "how do I ___ + playfab" typically results in useful answers if not usable sample code. Brendan or someone on the team almost always answer questions within a day and often less than an hour. Found more rough edges and unclear parts in GameSparks' docs and occasional not-quite-satisfactorily-answered questions on their Q&A forums. Brendan & co will often go above-and-beyond, providing advice on what approaches to use for a given problem even if they touch outside of the PlayFab offerings.

- PlayFab's web UI feels really nice and auto-updating-responsive (qualitatively, PlayFab's feels max ~2 years old design/UX-wise vs. maybe ~3-5 on GameSparks). It makes for neat real-time analytics and monitoring of your game.

- PlayFab has a great Unity integration & SDKs for C#, JavaScript, Python, Nodejs, TypeScript. GameSparks' Unity library is pretty good as well, have not looked at their other SDKs.

- I will say GameSparks has a nice websocket-based system for real-time communication from backend to your game client. Heard something about PlayFab possibly exploring a SignalR offering in the future. Though if your game absolutely needs to use its BaaS for streaming events, you could also pair PlayFab with a Photon offering or Firebase/PubNub for example.


Anyway, those are my initial thoughts after implementing dedicated servers using PlayFab and having explored GameSparks a tiny bit, so I could easily be giving either service short shrift here.

Would be curious to hear more about your project's attributes (mobile? turn-based? real-time? dedicated servers?) as well, to think about how it might fit with different offerings.

Overall, PlayFab + GameSparks are solid fits for games that fit a standard players, scores, inventory, leaderboards etc. If your needs fall wildly outside of that model, for example an anonymous-web-to-desktop-game integration we made, more generic options like Firebase/Google Cloud Functions might be another category of providers to look at.

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brendan avatar image brendan commented ·

Thanks, Brian. I'd also add that PlayStream is a key advantage that we have. It's a complete realtime event system which provides for things like user segmentation, rule-based action triggers, and scheduled tasks. Basically, all the tools you need for live game operations ("LiveOps"). We hosted a full day of talks on this topic at the last two Casual Connect conferences (Seattle and Anaheim), and put together a whitepaper on LiveOps best practices that we gave out at the Seattle conference (we'll be doing the same at GDC). We've also proven that we scale to massive numbers, as we have over 1,200 live games running on PlayFab, and 80 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) - and it's only going to keep growing.

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maciejorlinski1 avatar image maciejorlinski1 commented ·

Thanks guys. It's a mobile game with all the usual things like leaderboards, user management, analytics etc. For now we don't plan on having synchronous multiplayer but it's nice to have this option open as well.

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Brian Jordan avatar image Brian Jordan maciejorlinski1 commented ·

Excellent, in that case you're on the right track. I'd also compare the pricing models for your intended usage, PlayFab's free tier is quite generous.

& re: what Brendan mentioned, PlayStream is awesome. It's awesome to be able to drill down to what's happened in a given single or multi-player session, and having info from that data stream on-hand sounds quite useful for segmentation / analytics & triggering Cloud Scripts! Will have to try more of that out once we're further along on our project.

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