Over the past few years of running Kinetic, I’ve found myself to get the same questions. So starting today, I’m going to make a few blog posts that shine a light on how Kinetic is run, our past mistakes, and what it takes to keep the network ticking. I hope this will give you an idea of the work we put into Kinetic on a daily basis, and also give ideas to those of you looking to make your own networks.
Today I’ve going to cover donations, as questions on this subject are what I see the most.
Does size matter?
I think some people come into this and think we make a lot more money than we really do. In the grand scale of everything, we’re a really small network. I am immensely proud of the size we have become, and when I think about it, I wouldn’t want Kinetic to grow much bigger than it is now. What I like about Kinetic is our admin team and myself are there to chat with the players, and I feel you lose a little bit of the community spirit the more a network grows in size. The goal of Kinetic was never to grow in size, but to offer the best experience we can to the players we have. I would be sitting here happy if we had 10 players on the server, so the fact that in April we hit a high of 120 people being online at the same time, amazes me, and I was sitting there with a grin from ear to ear.
How much money does Kinetic make?
Wow, we got a bit off track there didn’t we. Anyway, let’s dive into some numbers and what we spend our income on. Everything here will be in pounds, as we’re in the UK, I’ll also convert it to USD as most of our player base is from America, and that’s what our store is in.
You can see our full income from last month here: https://kineticnetwork.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Annotation-2020-09-01-173707.jpg
Sorry, its a bit small, it’s the best I could get it. That’s a screenshot from our store. If you didn’t click on the image it shows $2,159 or £1,612. The average month will mean around £1,119 – £1,493 ($1,500 – $2,000) is spent on our store every month. Some months we’ll get a little higher, others we’ll get a lot smaller. We’ve had months where we’ve only had £300 come in via our store. Launches of new servers can affect the income, and so can our announcements of new servers. As if there is an upcoming server, player’s want to hop on, they tend to hold off getting anything until that server arrives.
So that’s everything that comes into the network every month. Note, that we don’t class anything from Kinetic Hosting as income from the network. Although, under the same company, they are their own separate entities. Kinetic Hosting is being built out to become profitable at some point (Hopefully) were as I only ever plan for the network to cover its running costs. I’ll go over the company in a later post.
How much does it cost to keep Kinetic’s Servers running?
Here I’m going to first list all the servers we have, and how much they cost every month.
– ns402 (Frank)
– ns303 (Stephen)
– ns010 (Larry)
– ns9029 (Philip)
– ns021 (Alfred)
– ns585 (Backup and Archive Server)
– ns8181 (Download Server)
– ns9291 (Web Server)
The overall cost of our servers are £570.11 ($763.15) then as we’re in the UK our government adds a 20% tax on top of that, making the total: £684.14 ($915.79).
Frank, Larry, and Philip are all responsible for hosting the servers you play on. Stephen hosts our hub and the EU proxy. Alfred hosts test servers, or servers that are in the works, like BeyondMC, Kingdoms, Mythic: Towny, etc. The web, download, and backup server speak for themselves.
Our highest cost server is our backup server. Due to servers like Mythic pumping out 100gb + world files we need a good-sized backup system to store everything. As you never know what might happen we keep backups for a while and don’t just backup the world files, but everything.
The servers are not the only cost Kinetic has to cover, our domain names, donation store, bank account fees, and taxes all have to be covered. We also spend money on improving the server, by picking up plugin licenses and software. Last month we spent £721.99 ($965) on extras. However, this was not an average month, as we had domain name renewals, and spent money on a logo redesign for both Kinetic and BeyondMC. A Normal month extras would be around half this.
The rainy day fund
If we have money left over at the end of the month, it goes into our rainy day fund. Something I’m extremely glad we have, as it saved our arses a few times.
As I said above, some months can bring in very little money, we call them slumps. Sometimes they come without warning, sometimes you know they’re on the way based on time of year. Sometimes slumps can last a few months, sometimes its just one month then back to normal. In this time our income drops to around £200 ($267.70) the extra money we made in the other months is used to cover the running costs in these months, allowing us to carry on as normal.
In mid-2018 we had a huge slump in income causing us to have to close our Battleground and Pixelmon servers. We were incredibly lucky that our income came back up again. It was sad we had to close those servers, but if we hadn’t have had that fund, then it would have been more than two servers that needed to close, and I don’t think we would be here now.
After that, I chose to grow out our rainy day fund. At the moment, we can run as normal for 4 months without any donations, and if we closed the less popular servers and moved some stuff around, I think we could keep going for around 6.
Might call that a bit overkill, but Kinetic has had 100s of hours of work put into it and has become a nice little community, I wouldn’t want that to all go up in smoke. I think 4 months would give us time to try some new tricks to start pulling in cash again.
Some of Kinetics income has gone into other projects, such as Kinetic Hosting, Kinetic Network Hosting, and BeyondMC.
When we started Kinetic Hosting back in 2019, we used income from the network to help buy its domain, WHMCS subscription, and servers. Early this year, hosting became fully reliant on itself and is no longer funded by the network.
However, I can hear you asking why Kinetic cash was used to fund hosting? At the moment the network wastes a lot of money. Every server machine we have can host more than one server. At the moment we have 3 servers machines running our network, with room for around 6 servers. At this time we only have 4 (Did have 5 before WC closed) servers online. Here lies the wasted money. We need to 3 server machines to keep our current servers running, as we need more power than just 2 can offer. Therefore we have wasted space and cash on the 3rd.
Hosting will allow us to save money, by only renting what we need. Later this month, we’ll be slowly moving all our network servers into the hosting infrastructure (Don’t worry, you won’t even notice this change). This will allow the network to rent what it needs, as it needs it. As hosting will have the full server machines, and we’ll just rent what we need of it.
“Why not just rent smaller servers?” Unless you go down the VPS path, you don’t really get servers much smaller than we’re renting. At the moment all our servers have 32gb of RAM. We could drop all our servers to 16gb, but this cost more than to rent the 32gb servers.
“Why not rent two 32gb systems and then one 16gb system then?” We have two new servers in the works right now, doing this will mean we’ll need to replace our 16gb system with a 32gb when that server launches. This will mean downtime for the servers on that system while we move them to the new. It’s also not simple to set up a new system. Each server has software running on it that would need to be installed, and it takes around a day to set up each system correctly.
“Why not use a hosting provider that already existed?” Again, this comes down to cost. Most hosting providers will use the same systems we use to run the network, however, they’ll have their fees on top of this. Some of the extra fees are huge. As we own Kinetic Hosting, we would be charging the network at a base cost, with no profit. Another reason not to go with some hosting providers is overstacking. Most hosts will fit more servers onto their systems than it can handle. This is done with the expectation that not everyone will be using all of their resources at the same time. A bit like when aeroplane companies over sell seats. It’s done expecting that not everyone will show.
I’m not saying its bad companies do this, as it cuts costs for the customer, but when it comes to running bigger public servers, we’ll going to be using most of our resources 24/7, and other servers on the same system could impact the performance of our servers.
The money put into hosting will be returned with the crash it will save doing this.
The Bigger Plan
The plan is to hopefully grow the hosting to a point where it can fund the network. I dislike any pay to win elements of a game, and at the moment selling kits on our store, very much offers some form of pay to win. We’ve tried to go done the only cosmetic path, but that just doesn’t work on a modded server. It also offers us difficulty with comes to offering any competitive servers, as pay to win elements on competitive serves breaches the Minecraft EULA.
We hope, we can get hosting to a point where it can fully fund our servers, and we can remove the kits and pay to win items from our store.
BeyondMC & Kinetic Network Hosting
Other projects cash is being put into is BeyondMC and Kinetic Network Hosting. We’ve spoken about BeyondMC before, so I won’t go into it. But we’re really excited about this project, however, nothing comes for free. BeyondMC needs test servers, the server when it launches, domains, etc. At the moment, this is all being fully funded by Kinetic, with hopes it will be able to repay the network later on.
Kinetic Network Hosting will offer a free hosting service. I know we have Kinetic Hosting and Kinetic Network Hosting, it is a bit confusing. The network hosting will allow people to rent out server for any of our modpacks for free. These servers can link with our main servers allowing for you to trade, chat, and check out their bases. It will be kind of your own little world but linked to the main public server.
However, not everyone wants to play our packs. So we’re going to be growing it out to offer free hosting for all packs and just normal Minecraft. It will work like Aternos, but there will be no queue, file access, and we’ll be using more powerful servers.
I said at the start we’ll also cover some of the mistakes we’ve made in the past. It hasn’t all been clean riding when it comes to what we chose to spend money on. Pixelrealms and the Arsenal Network being key pointers in that direction.
Pixelrealms was a kind of side network we started with Arsenal. We put cash behind it with the server, domain, etc. The server launched with just base Pixelmon with plans to slowly grow it out. However, a split on how we wanted to run it, and how Arsenal wanted to run it, in the end, meant its downfall. As you know, we later pulled it into the main Kinetic Network and relaunched it as Pixelmon, but with extra mods. Sadly we fully missed what people wanted out of the server, and with servers like Complex Pixelmon out there, ours looked very lacklustre.
Arsenal Network was a network around the same size as us in 2019 (Maybe?). As you might remember for a long time we partnered with them. The idea was we would help each other out, and help us grow against the big boys like AJ Gaming, Complex, and JAC Gaming. However, from our point of view we put a lot more work into Arsenal than they ever did into Kinetic, so later that year we pulled the partnership. We also didn’t agree with the behaviour of a number of its staff members, with one of its admins deleting the network over a change of a permission plugin. This is when I offered to buy the network from its owner.
In my mind, I could do what I did with Kinetic help grow it out by, fixing up the staff, and launching new servers and ideas we don’t have here. Sadly, there were three big issues I didn’t see. One, Arsenal was its own network, run its own way. People played there as they liked that network, they didn’t want it to be another Kinetic. Two, it was full of banned players from Kinetic 😀 Three, the network was a lot smaller than it looked as we found fake player plugins in their servers when we took over.
Accusations also made that I stole the network by former staff members we had removed. Meant that it was no longer worth the hassle to run the network.
I’ll go over these more, in a mistake post I want to make.
Running Kinetic has been a huge learning curve. I have learnt so much about myself, and its show flaws in me I didn’t see before. Life is truly all about learning, and I think sometimes you have to make these mistakes to learn from them.
Wow, that was a big post. However, that covers everything the network spends its income on. I also must note, that myself and the admins are not paid, and work on Kinetic for free. The network doesn’t make the cash to pay even one staff member, and we have over 30 here, so it’s sadly not possible. As much as I would love to pay the staff members here, they all put so much work into the network.
That’s all for this post. Other posts will be shorter and cover other aspects of the network.
Hope you have a good rest of your week!
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- Inside Kinetic
- 1 September 2020