Best Games With Private Servers

Some players enjoy online or cooperative play, but don’t want to have to play with strangers. Many modern games enable a player to run their game as a host, so that their friends can connect to the game, and they can play together. But if the player hosting the game needs to leave, the other players have to disconnect, which is less than ideal. But for some games, there is another option: running a permanent private or dedicated server.

A dedicated server app is a special, headless version of the game that acts in the same way an MMORPG server does, but on a smaller scale. A private server can be set up using Linux or Windows in most cases. Players can do so using a spare PC, renting a private server from a game server company, or setting up a dedicated server or virtual private server in a datacenter. This list is by no means definitive, as there are a great many games that have a standalone private server version. But it does cover some games with which it is easier to set up private servers.


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8 Valheim

Incredibly Successful Co-op Survival Game

Valheim Private Server


February 2, 2021

Iron Gate AB

Valheim is a 2021 game that became an unexpected success for developers Iron Gate Studio. The game is set in a world that is loosely based on Norse mythology, with a focus on general survival, resource harvesting, and base building. There is no main plot, but there is a basic progression system which is based on advancing through a number of boss fights to unlock resource and equipment tiers.


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There is a private server version of Valheim available, which runs on either Linux or Windows. It is very easy to install using the command line version of the Steam client. Players can set options for the server, such as whether PvP is enabled and how difficult encounters are.

7 7 Days To Die

Probably The Best Sandbox Zombie Survival Game

7 Days To Die Private Server

7 Days to Die

December 13, 2013

The Fun Pimps

7 Days To Die, from The Fun Pimps, holds the dubious honor of the game that spent the longest period in early access, ever. It was first put into early access in December 2013, and remains in early access as of 2024. However, as any current player will confirm, it plays like a fully released game.

7 Days To Die was developed using Unity. Because of this, it is possible to install a headless dedicated server version of the game, to set up a private server. The installation is done through the Steam command line client on either Windows or Linux. It is possible to set all the options for the game by editing an easy-to-understand text file.

6 Avorion

A Hidden Gem Of A Space Sim

Avorion Private Server

Released by Boxelware in 2020, Avorion is an indie-developed space trading, fighting, and exploration simulator. What sets Avorion apart is the voxel-based building system for ships and structures. This is something of a hidden gem, as Avorion has a cult following, but has not been discovered by the wider public.

The private server version of Avorion is exceptionally well-developed. It has a profusion of features, and has been optimized to handle dozens of players. It runs on both Linux and Windows, and is fully multithreaded. It can be downloaded and installed manually, or installed using SteamCMD and the command line.

5 Space Engineers

A Game That Teaches The Power Of Gravity

Space Engineers Private Server

Space Engineers

October 23, 2013

Keen Software House

Simulation , Sandbox

Another cult classic, Space Engineers was released by Keen Software House in 2019. The gameplay is focused on resource collection, spaceship design, and realistic spaceflight. One of the most interesting challenges of this game is simply building a ship that can break out of a planet’s gravity well without a catastrophic crash.


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The private server app for this game is only available for Windows. However, using virtualization technology such as Docker (along with Wine, the Windows emulation suite for Linux), it is possible to get the Space Engineers dedicated server running on Linux. However, it will take some technical skills and effort to do so.

4 Sons Of The Forest

Freaky Island Horror Survival

Sons Of The Forrest Private Server

Sons of the Forest

February 22, 2024

Endnight Games

As the successor to The Forest, Endnight Games released Sons Of The Forest in 2024. This is one of the most terrifying horror survival games around. Anyone who has encountered hordes of cannibals by taking a wrong turn while exploring a pitch-black cave will know this already.

There is only a Windows version of the private server app for Sons Of The Forest. Although some people have reported some success getting it to run on Linux using Docker and Wine, there have been some networking issues. The Windows version can be installed using the text-based Steam client. The Linux installation should only be tackled by players who have a solid knowledge of Linux and networking in general.

3 Rust

The Grandfather Of Competitive Survival Games

Rust Private Server


February 8, 2018

Back in 2018, Facepunch Studios released Rust to the public, and the gaming genre found its definitive title. Much has been written about Rust in the past, and not all of it was good. Players compete for dominance of a procedurally generated map. Base building and defense are a huge part of Rust, and PvP is not optional.

The Rust private server app is available for both Windows and Linux. It has been updated many times since the game’s release, and is both stable and efficient. Even a modest PC can run a Rust server that can happily host a Rust game with 200 or more players online at once.

2 Minecraft

Classic Voxel-Based Building

Minecraft Private Server

PS4 , PS3 , PS Vita , Xbox One , Xbox 360 , Switch , 3DS , PC , Android , iOS , Wii U

November 18, 2011

First released in 2011 by Mojang Studios, Minecraft has become the most successful game of all time. Resource collection, combat, and exploration are all part of the main gameplay loop. However, it is the excellent building and automation features that really set Minecraft apart from other games.


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The Minecraft dedicated server app is available for Apple iOS, Windows, and Linux. However, it must be noted that the setup of a Minecraft private server can be a little trickier than other games. A Minecraft server needs to use a valid Secured Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to enable private connections. So, this install should not be tackled without detailed instructions or the relevant technical skills.

1 Project Zomboid

Top Down Zombie Survival Action

Project Zomboid Private Server

Project Zomboid

November 8, 2013

The Indie Stone

Survival Horror

This indie cult classic zombie survival sandbox game offers players a retro top-down graphical style. Released officially in 2021 by The Indie Stone, the game has a solid following. It’s a surprisingly deep game that combines combat and exploration, with colony management and building.

There is a native private server app for Project Zomboid for both Windows and Linux. Installation is very easy using the SteamCMD tool. This is a very lightweight server app and can run on any PC without problems, allowing friends to play together.


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