Avid fans of EA Sports FC (formerly known as FIFA Football or FIFA), Klaus O’s children were having fun building virtual teams, trading for players, and competing against other gamers. It didn’t take long for Klaus to realize there was real money involved, a high level of strategy was required, and a business behind the game worth billions of dollars.
EA Sports FC is one of the most popular video games in the world, selling millions of copies to international football enthusiasts every year. The game has been localized into 18 languages and is available in 51 countries. EA Sports FC has a popular mode known as Ultimate Team. “FUT” (FIFA Ultimate Team) has an annual cycle that starts with the release of the latest version of the game in September and follows international club schedules into the early summer. To continuously improve their teams, users can earn coins trading players in the Ultimate Team transfer market.
In 2014, Klaus started a database to index the game’s players and their values similar to the S&P 500 for the stock market. At the suggestion of a friend and a co-founder, he put the database behind a simple website and called it FUTBIN. The founders shared it in some of the larger FIFA Ultimate Team online communities, which was a big hit.
FUTBIN has been hosted on Linode since the beginning, mostly out of the London data center. “When looking at potential hosting providers, you have to look at the price for configuring the virtual machines you need,” said Klaus. “We found Linode to be the right choice with good uptime and great value for the money.”
After 2016 when FUTBIN was growing at a rapid pace, Klaus and his team needed additional compute power—as well as a content delivery network—to manage increased traffic. “Linode provides all the options we need for a Linux-based system,” added Klaus. “And Linode’s customer support has been great, notably taking the time to help us solve a migration problem we were having in our hosting environment that measurably improved the quality of the service.”
In addition to being FUTBIN’s co-founder, Klaus is the backend developer responsible for the databases and their performance, scripts to get game and real-life football data, and maintaining relationships with FUTBIN’s business partners. An engineer by education, he started as a developer at IBM, moved up to team leader, and eventually became a project manager.
One of the biggest assets for FUTBIN is its international user base, encompassing approximately 4 million active users who requested 20-25 million page views per day in October, soon after the most recent version of the game was released. App traffic saw similar growth, with engagement being 2-3 times the activity seen on the website.
The growing community caught the attention of Better Collective, which bought FUTBIN in April 2022 for a reported €105 million. It’s not every day that a hobby becomes a successful business that earns a remarkable acquisition, but that’s precisely what happened with FUTBIN while it was running on Linode.