If you go to the majority of dedicated game communities online, you will find that nearly 100% of them have a spot where "Donate" is requested and there is a donation board. Running dedicated servers costs money.
The cost of running a dedicated server can range from $10 to over $250 a month depending on the server and for communities with multiple servers, costs can range as low as $10/month to as high as $10,000 a month! How do communities pay for these servers? Swag, tournaments, advertising, and donations.
The problem with Swag and Donations is that you are getting money from the same people over and over again and eventually the "well will run dry." How many T-shirts for a gaming community will a person buy? How many digital products or "Premium" accounts will someone by? How much will an individual donate to a community over multiple months? Even if the community is a super tight-knit one, this does not allow a community the capital neccessary to expand/grow with new servers or new tournaments.
Tournaments are another way to earn revenue, however you can't really run 24/7 tournaments and there are more and more tournament platforms out there than ever before. Esports and Gambling are in its infancy and there may be an option to monetize there, but its probably too early to tell.
Advertising is the simplest and least impactful form of raising capital for server costs of all the options. The more the community plays, the more capital is raised without pulling money from the gamers themselves. The more capital raised, the more servers and games that can be acquirred, which grows the gamer base, growing the community and as a by-product growing the capital raised.
Advertising often gets a dirty name from gamers and most of the time this is rightfully so. Loud advertisements that show no respect for headphones, advertisements that have no appeal to gamers, and difficult to impliment advertisement tech make it difficult for communities to agree to digital advertising as a means to raise capital for server costs.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. With products such as https://motdmod.com/, server costs can be covered through advertising while actually improving the gaming experience for gamers by providing game improvements such as custom Messages of the Day.
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