Dedicated Or Peer, That Is The Question

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There’s been some misinformation being spread about the use of dedicated vs peer servers in next gen gaming.  The PS3 masses have assumed that all PS3 multiplayer games are dedicated and all Xbox 360 multiplayer games are peer based.  They couldn’t be farther from the truth.

With a tiny bit of digging I got some interesting information.  There are plenty of Xbox Live games that are peer based like COD4 and Halo 3.  There are also some server based games available too.  After making contact with Microsoft I asked them one simple question; “Are some or all Live enabled multiplayer games are Peer To Peer or Dedicated Server based?”  The answer I received was this:

“As of now, the majority are peer-to-peer but it’s completely up to the developer on how they want to do it.”

Well that doesn’t give me much more info than I already knew.  I did learn however, that EA likes to run their own Live servers and that they are dedicated.  In fact, EA is one of the few companies that can foot the bill for their own Live servers.  There was a recent announcement that Left 4 Dead will be run on dedicated servers.

On the PSN side of things I posed the same question;”Are most, some or all PSN enabled multiplayer games Peer To Peer or Dedicated?”   Their response:

It is a bit of both.  IE Resistance is server based, but Warhawk is peer server based.”

The response from Sony kind of surprised me.  I had always thought Warhawk was dedicated because of that sweet setup they had at Sony.  Even though they use the term ‘dedicated’ many times in referring to the Warhawk server cluster, they are implying that it’s dedicated because there’s no one actually playing Warhawk on those machines.  So they are ‘dedicated’ to serving games, not playing them.

So what does all this mean?  What’s all the hubbub?  Do we assume that dedicated is always better than peer?  COD4 is a great example of a fast running peer based game.  I’ve witnessed a few disconnects but thanks to the patch, I can keep playing with the same group of people I started with.  This is achieved by switching the host when the main host drops out.  On a dedicated server if the host goes down, there’s no coming back for the player.

I think we can all agree on the bottom line, whether dedicated or peer based, both PSN and Xbox Live offer an unprecedented multiplayer experience.  If you don’t believe me, I recommend you try COD4, Halo, Forza 2 and Motorstorm to quench your thirst.  The methods and tools used to get a game up and running on the internet should not be a reason to choose one system over another.  It also shouldn’t matter to you, the gamer, how the game runs as long as it runs well.

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