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Experience with Photon Engine?

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Hi everyone,

I'm part of a small team in the early stages of developing a multiplayer game, and I came across Photon Engine (https://www.photonengine.com).

Our initial plan was to write custom server logic with Node and socket.io, hosted on AWS or something similar -- and I still think that's a pretty solid option. But I can't deny that Photon's offering sounds attractive, especially considering we're not networking experts. So, I'm hoping to get some input to help make a decision.

If anyone around here has had experience using their platform, I would love to hear about it. General comments would be much appreciated :). As well, here are some specific questions off the top of my head:

  • How good is their reliability/performance? Any issues there?
  • Are there any areas in particular where it shines, or where it's not so great?
  • What's the dev experience like? How does it compare to the process of writing your own networking logic?
  • Is there enough flexibility to make the exact game you wanted to?
  • How good is their customer support?
  • Did you find their pricing reasonable?
  • Are there any competing platforms to consider?
  • Any tripping points/"gotchas" to be aware of?

Bottom line...would you recommend it?

Thanks in advance!

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There are successful games running on Photon, so clearly it's a "good enough" solution. I know people who used it for real-time multi-player, with Unity, and it worked for them. If you're not using Unity, I don't think that's a good option, though.

However, if what you need is turn-based, batch-oriented, web services, then by all means use Node.js. Photon starts showing value when you actually need interactive real-time games. Farmville or Hearthstone? Node, not Photon. Overwatch or World of Warcraft? Photon might work better than Node.

And, in the end, if you build an entire infrastructure around your game, you'll probably want a web application server anyway, so typically you'll end up having both anyway.


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I've never used Photon personally, but I watched a couple of other teams use it in a 48-hour game jam they sponsored a year or two ago. Multiple teams were able to get characters running around in a shared world on the first day, so it definitely can get the job done.

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I've used Photon in a couple of projects. It is really good when it comes to networking and multiplayer. It is easy to get going and send data across players. There are a few shortcomings however, and I was forced to either use a third party backend or build my own. The shortcomings are:

- No way to enforce authentication, and therefore no notion of user accounts with Photons. You'll have to manage your users in some other fashion. This also includes no social login either.

- No data storage for users to keep information, progress, leaderboards etc

- You can't enforce your own data validation on the server, since Photon only does message relaying.

I'm working on Nakama server - an opensource (and free) implementation of all the above that is intended to replace but can also complement Photon. It has first class support for Unity and Unreal

Hope this helps,

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