web – Matchmaking/Lobby hosting for game development hobbyists

I might make an online multiplayer game as a hobbyist. Implementing a lobby system is trivial (and slightly less so when you take into account security and hairy when data protecting regulation gets involved) and there seem to be existing self hosted solutions. However i see how me hosting my own lobby server gets in the way of me making a fun game.

I would run my own game server but i would rather just have to handle match cookies and actual game logic instead of also handling a lobby system.

I am looking for a service/non profit that offers an API for my game client to call into to provide basic lobby/match making features such as:

  • Authentication
  • IP banning with timeout after voting
  • Storage of some persistent account state
  • Getting a list of open games with metadata and push refreshes
  • When joining a match updates on map changed, team information, waiting for ready of all players
  • Match specific chat (maybe also lobby chat)
  • Uses a communication mechanism that has bindings in many languages
  • An API which works cross platform (so something Steam specific doesn’t count)
  • Preferably with an indie friendly free tier and appropriate pricing otherwise
  • Maybe an optional skill based/elo system to experiment whether it makes sense for this game.
  • Maybe is a platform of many multiplayer games and maybe uses that information for matchmaking
  • Maybe donations/monetization/subscription functionality to unlock maps/hats, this information is stored in player persistent state.
  • Maybe password protected matches/invite only

A game server side API which allows:

  • Gives users an authenticated token/cookie their game client uses to connect to the actual game server i run (all game logic runs on my server)
  • Allow my game server to query information about the player with that token
  • Allows my server to read/modify player persistent state
  • Maybe allow user hosted games on their own servers
  • Maybe manage number of game servers based on utilization numbers and make an API call to shut down/start them depending on activity levels (to save cost when there are no users). This would be huge for my hobbyist use-case.

During my search i encountered the services braincloud and gamesparks. While they have a free tier it is named “Development” this makes doubtful that i can use it long term. The cheapest non-development tier costs many times more per month than a VPS.

Is there a hobbyist friendly service that provides basic multiplayer/lobby features?