Fortnite Season X patches causing spikes in data use for broadband services
Fortnite is massively popular and while playing it even with the voice chat enabled is relatively low bandwidth (should run on a 500 Kbps symmetric service if latency is stable and relatively low) the reason gamers want really fast broadband is the size of the digital download when you first download a game or the increasing frequency of large patches. Also there is of course bragging rights to having the fastest connection in a group of people, though the best players will of course value a stable low latency connection rather than just having the absolute fastest for downloads.
Fortnite Season X appeared on 1st August and the download was around 8GB in size for MS Windows and BT has released a graph of traffic indicating that they saw a 40% spike in traffic attributed to the patch. Fortnite along with a lot of other online games will not let you play until you have patched to the latest version.
The grapth shows the traffic trends for three dates, 18th July 2019 which should be before the bulk of schools broke up for the summer, 25th July when most schools have finished and 1st August with the Fortnite Season X patch activity.
Rather than try and re-phrase what was in the release we got, the description of the traffic patterns is probably best copied:
Here are the trends over the past four weeks detailed below:
- The green line is yesterday’s network traffic data, showing normal holiday behaviour until 9am where traffic rockets up 80% between 9am and 10am, driven by the 9am release of Fortnite Season 10, as gamers rush to get the newest version of the game and possibly join in the World Cup action
- Red and blue lines from four and two weeks ago respectively all show typical network activity during school term time:
- Pre-commute peak driven by Facebook/YouTube, rising steadily though the day
- This picks up significantly after school as kids do homework and socialise online
- A further increase is seen as more people return home from work
- The yellow line shows the first week of school holidays:
- Activity peaks further into the day than term time as families get up later during the school holidays
- Internet traffic sees a 15% increase over an average day as more people are at home
- The evening peak is slightly lower during the holiday period as families enjoy the break from normal routine and warmer weather
- 8pm - 10pm are peak TV hours, with a main spike after 9pm. We see small spikes coinciding with ad breaks as viewers turn to social media to share their thoughts
The Season X patch was released at 8am GMT by Epic so the graph shows the traffic increasing from 9am, i.e. kids home from school downloading the patch to play during the day. Traffic blips like this are becoming increasingly common and one day we might see a big gaming release coinciding with a new version of iOS, big Windows update and a couple of streamed sporting events. We will chase BT to see if a graph showing the profile for later in the day on the 1st is available so we can see if the Fortnite effect continued into the evening.
Should add that I do play Fortnite and one observation to make is that the patch even on a fairly slow VDSL2 connection does not always max out the connection and at these sort of speeds there is as much time spent unpacking and installing the update onto the PC. So while faster broadband would make the process faster, upgrades to the SSD would also be needed and then there is the problem of whether the source for any game patches can cope with serving everyone who has a much faster connection. Or put another way, PR that claims you can go from waiting an hour for a download on standard broadband to it taking a few under a minute is massively simplying things.