When we decided we were going to build a game we knew we would be short on time. The last thing we wanted to do was spend loads of time building a backend. Not only were we conscious of time, but we also wanted to focus on the unique and exciting aspects of the game. That's where the fun is after all! So we searched for a service that could provide us with the standard features our game would need. Some things we were looking for were battles, virtual currencies and in app purchases. It turned out there are a few game backend services on the market, and the one chose to go with was Gamesparks.
A very appealing feature of Gamesparks was the Indie and Student Programme. Luckily for us, being a team of less then than 3 people, we meet the criteria for the programme. That means until we reach 100,000 monthly active players we don't have to pay a penny. It's only if and when the game becomes successful that we have to worry about the cost.
So far, there seems to be a good community behind Gamesparks. It's only early for us and I've only posted a couple of question on the forum, but both have received very useful answers. It has to be said that the documentation can be a bit on thin side, which increases the importance of the helpful people out there.
Gamesparks uses something they call Cloud Code. All that really means is that you write, save and run code directly on Gamesparks, it never touches your local machine. The platform offers a means for version control and automated testing of Cloud Code, although I've found these to be far less feature complete than the tools I am used to in my usual local development work flow.
So far, so good. Hopefully we reach 100,000 monthly active users and start paying Gamesparks some money!