A game server sponsor can help defray the costs associated with hosting an online multiplayer video game. In some cases, a game service provider (GSP) will act as a sponsor by offering free server slots, though it is also common for a group to receive donations from third parties. A sponsor often gets some type of advertising in exchange, though the specifics of the arrangement can differ widely. In some cases, an individual or organization will actively seek for a server to sponsor. A group of gamers that lacks a regular server to play on can accept such an offer, or they may use other means to find a sponsor.
Game servers are a specialized type of web server that allows people to play a specific game together over the Internet. The game client runs on a web host, and each player accesses it through their client. Listen servers can be created by many game clients, though this type of setup relies on an individual's bandwidth and will disappear when he stops playing. Dedicated game servers operate independently of any of the players and can allow a group of people to use a game together on a regular basis. Game service providers typically rent servers on a monthly basis and price them depending on how many people can connect to the game at once, which is usually referred to as a number of slots.
Some groups of gamers pool their resources to rent a dedicated server, though finding a game server sponsor is another option. Gamers that donate to fund a server are often referred to as supporters and may receive in-game bonuses in exchange for their support. A game server sponsor is usually a third party that does not play on the server and instead receives advertising or some other form of compensation. The server name may include the sponsor's website address, business name, or message. Some games have splash screens that can be modified, and a game server sponsor may be allowed to place a graphical ad in this space.
In some cases, a GSP may offer to sponsor a limited number of groups. This is usually done on a promotional basis and is often contingent on the sponsored group winning a popular vote or maintaining a full server. A GSP that serves as a game server sponsor will sometimes shut a server down if the group it was given to does not maintain a certain level of use. Actions such as these can assure that the limited resources of the GSP go to groups that actually use the service.