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snacktime

Licensing game software as a service

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So I'm working on a game server that will primarily be provided as a hosted service.  But I want to allow as much freedom as I can to developers that want to extend the engine.

 

Currently the idea is to provide a commercial license with the hosted service.  The copy of the software that runs on our servers uses a commercial license which would only really restrict you to using it on that specific server.

 

To allow developers to run a local copy during development, we would provide a copy of the software under the Gnu Affero license.  This effectively means that you can develop locally using the entire application source, and you would only have to share your work if you chose to host the game on another public server instead of using our service.  We would probably have commercial licenses as well for that scenario.

 

My concern is that even though in this specific case there is no danger of having your code fall under the Affero license, misunderstandings and apprehension will drive away developers.

 

The larger goal here is to stay away from the more common licensing model in the industry where you pay hundreds for a license if you want source access.  I want to scale the pricing in a way that makes more sense for individual developers.  If you can afford $10 a month, you get a hosted service and full source access to customize whatever you want.  

 

An alternative is to use pretty much the same model but have it all be a commercial license.  It would let you run a local copy of the server for development only.

 

So anyways, what are people's thoughts on using the Gnu Affero in this case?  Would it drive away developers?

 

Chris

 

 

 

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[quote]you would only have to share your work if you chose to host the game on another public server instead of using our service[/quote] This is more than enough to scare most users, as a "public server" can be construed to include common cases of accessing the work in progress game server over the Internet (using a smartphone client, testing whether certain NAT and firewall configurations can cause trouble, etc.) and/or making it available to a vaguely defined "public" (playtesting involving external volunteers, tests including other hosted services, tests of installing the game on production servers, etc.). The real problem is forcing your customers to place their substantial proprietary developments in a derivative work of your generic server software, where it can then be affected by your open-source license. In a sane open-source model, you shouldn't expect customers to share with you or with the public more than little fixes and improvements to your server: customers need to be confident that you are unable to "steal" their game, no matter how they screw up. Technical solutions to raise a barrier between what's yours and what's theirs are likely to revolve around a plugin-based or container-based architecture in which the server isn't customized and game-specific code is clearly separated from generic parts. You might have customers pay for the privilege of running their own development servers, with no strings attached, or pay for servers hosted by you (on which they publish their confidential development snapshots).
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