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Broadband speeds holding back games industry
Thursday 18 October 2012 10:21:31 by Andrew Ferguson

When you work in an industry that is worth $50bn annually and growth to $90bn is forecast you would expect the major figures to carry some clout when they talk. The games industry is the biggest entertainment sector in the world, and Ian Livingstone of Eidos has been talking about the impact of broadband on the industry at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam.

"We’re fighting broadband, you’re holding us back, in many ways. We have to worry about broadband when we should be thinking about making better games."

Ian Livingstone Life President of Eidos

While it is true that as games move to ever more realistic graphics which result in larger map updates and downloads of 2 or 3GB in size, it should be remembered that even though broadband is not the perfect 2ms latency and 100 Mbps downloads we would all love, that the games industry has grown to be the largest sector even with all the limitations of broadband.

This is not just a UK problem, but one facing every country, game coders need to have network code that can cope with the 2 or 3% of gamers on gigabit fibre connections and those on very old legacy 0.5 Mbps ADSL packages with interleaving applied where latency may be 50 or 60ms. One problem arising from the roll-out of more fibre based broadband has been people using FTTC services complaining about lag compensation as the game code adds latency artifically to these best connections to bring them in line with most users who are on ADSL and ADSL2+. Some have solved this by ensuring when playing CLAN games that they all use similar types of connections, which can be difficult with the wide variation of service availability.

The article covers also the rapid rise of the mobile gaming industry, but this is heading the same way as the home console market, where while games like Angry Birds are pretty light on bandwidth, there are a growing number of mobile games with additional 0.5GB downloads after the initial purchase.


Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago
Its true though, Digital download much? youre pretty screwed these days games are now topping 15gb regularly 20+ in some cases. Look at virgin media, high jitter, regularly has issues with XBL and some big name games like league of legends.

Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
I don't think ADSL latency and jitter is bad at all in the UK, there is certainly a void to fill if people want to download large gamers rather than buy the disc of course, but as for latency I don't think there are any issues?
Posted by Firefalcon over 5 years ago
Virgin media mostly has issues on their fibre products.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
For Virgin Media the bulk of their 4 million customers are on the FTTN/Cable product, only 200,000 are on ADSL and they rarely talk about it.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
Depends what their on about, if its the netcode for multiplayer then its not a bandwidth issue, as long as your latency is okay there should not be an issue. Used to play MechWarrior back in the day, 16 players, multiple hit points on each model on a 28k modem, ping was 30-60ms including voice comms and it worked fine. Efficient net code is 1/2 the battle.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
If the complaint is it takes players to download things like map packs and other downloadable content then thats as much down to the gaming industry. Who's fault is it if a game only comes with a handful of maps and they want to charge you extra for a proper map pack? or release unfinished games and follow up with large patches afterwards!

So everyone buys into 300mbps fibre to the prem and they'll soon find a way to max out those connections.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@andrew, do you mean that their FTTC/Cable customers talk about , but their ADSL customers rarely talk about it? "it" being jitter/latency/poor gaming experience

If so I'd agree with that
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
As in Virgin Media rarely talk about their ADSL service.

Not mentioned anything on Virgin Media cable jitter, though at least gaming should be possible again in the evening after they finally fixed a routing issue.
Posted by tommy45 over 5 years ago
Whilst it may be nice to have 100mbps+ at your disposal, Latency Jitter the Netcode built into the game,and the ISP's routing And peering policy, in particular if you want or need to connect to an overseas server,

Whilst (with fast path) the over all latency may be sort of ok, if there is any frequent spiking of latency along the route used, your gonna notice it,or those in your server( If you host) certainly will,
Posted by finaldest over 5 years ago
This article highlights some valid points however the games industry neglects to mention that the primary reason for a push in faster internet connections is in relation to always online DRM.

Yes, We do need faster connections for digital downloads, streaming etc but not to hold gamers hostage.
Posted by scootie over 5 years ago
vm cable need to focus on running there upstream channles with good load balancing. at mo i find forcing a few power ups tend switch channel during peak highs that randomly appear on one channel. old hub ware had to pin reset to switch.
Posted by scootie over 5 years ago
an reading about docsis 3 on the net an the faults with cmts load stats on there forum i would say they set the cmts high load fault theshold way to high an they avergage the load over 24 hours an not during jus peak effected times. thats not how to respect latency dear to heart cusomers
Posted by Joppy over 5 years ago
@andrew its not just routing issues with VM. Over the last 30 months with VM I have had only 8 months without latency problems due to just UBR issues.

My old 96k modem with 100 ping was more stable for gaming than the random pings on tens of Mbits VM cable. Game code can make it seem smoother for you but everyone else see's you warping.

I can see the game providers issue when ISP's like VM only let you download a fraction of the game before limiting your connection and making it take 8 hours to download.
Posted by Joppy over 5 years ago
Oh and not forgetting the nice packet loss which VM says is acceptable.

Or the fact I paid a subscription for a game which is unplayable due to My connection with VM so that particular game company won't be getting a sub-renewal from me. I can see why they are upset ;)
Posted by Bob_s2 over 5 years ago
Gaming is very demanding of the network. Most gamers also tend to go for the cheap packages. With increasing HS Broadband takeup Latency will suffer. Possibly gmers ought to be on a premium package. Most other users seem to have few problems with VM with it regularly being reported as one of the best perforing ISP's
Posted by Joppy over 5 years ago
VM is known as the worst ISP for gaming due jitter on its network. Other isps handle latency problems better and faster. It took vm a month to sort out the issues League of legend players were having.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
More baseless rubbish from bob...
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Oh Bob, you can play Xbox live on a 512k ADSL line with no issues at all. You don't need speed or premium, just low latency, low jitter

Virgin has been plagued by these issues for well over a year now, they had gaming issues even before congestion kicked in, it was due to their traffic shaping and AFAIK remains unfixed
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
you know what, this time I am siding with the isp's. Game developers feel everyone is against them, they feel hardware is holding them back, broadband and prices. They cant reign themselves and just make smaller sized games by cutting down on graphcis detail etc.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
Agreed, there's nothing holding them back in the graphics dept of they want to develop PC games, oh wait they like the colsole cash cow too much so LIMIT themselves to consoles. Most of the PC game releases are s***ty ports with cra*p anti-piracy policies such as needing to be online to play even single player... Gaming industry can go f*** itself.

The real goal is to get a completely streaming service where you simply don't have a hard copy of the game and everything is processed by their server and streamed to you.
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