How Much Data Does Online Gaming Use?
The amount of data/bandwidth that online gaming consumes depends completely on the game in question. Depending on its complexity and coding, an online game can use anywhere from less than 30 to more than 200 MB of data per hour. Secondary factors, like the number of players, the game settings, and whether or not the player is live streaming gameplay, also have a significant effect on data usage.
In this quick and dirty guide we crowd source statistics on data/bandwidth use from X Box Live, Play Station 4, and PC gaming forums to build a comprehensive reference sheet for today’s most popular online games.
League of Legends: An average 5v5 game takes 35 minutes and uses approximately 35 MB of data, so, on average, LoL uses 60 MB of data per hour.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: If a player uses a 64 tick server (one that updates 64 times a second), the game uses approximately 87 MB of data per hour. If a player uses a 124 tick server (one that updates 184 times a second and gives the player a more accurate account of gameplay), the game uses approximately 246 MB of data per hour.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
In WoW, play style determines data use. Playing solo and refraining from trade and general both decrease bandwidth use. To illustrate how much usage varies: raids use approximately 25 MB of data per hour while a 30v30 standoff in Alterac Valley uses approximately 160 MB of data per hour.
DOTA 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2): Anecdotally, a game of 42 minutes uses 70 MB of data, so, on average, DOTA 2 uses somewhere around 100 MB of data per hour.
Minecraft: The average Minecraft user on a multiplayer server uses 100 MB of data per hour.
Halo 3: Without voice, Halo 3 uses approximately 40 MB of data per hour.
Killzone: Shadow Fall: The game uses approximately 195 MB of data per hour.
Battlefield 4: This game uses approximately 65 MB of data per hour.
FIFA 14: This game uses approximately 26.7 MB of data per hour.
Choosing Game Settings
To reduce the bandwidth gaming consumes choose low-resolution graphics settings. Decrease the screen resolution, lower render quality, and lower texture resolution in the game settings. Decrease anti-alias (which smooths edges) and anisotropic filtering (which enhances textures) in the graphic card settings. Turning off voice or muting the game altogether will also decrease bandwidth usage.
Downloading Games, Updates, and Patches
Far more than actually playing the game, downloading the game uses a huge amount of data. To avoid draining limited mobile data, connect to Wi-Fi before downloading games, updates, and patches. Turn off automatic updates if bandwidth caps are an issue.
Live Streaming Gameplay Eats Data
Live streaming gameplay uses a huge amount of data. Streaming via Twitch.tv, for example, uses approximately 780 MB of data per hour (best quality, upload only).
Monitoring Data/Bandwidth Use
The best way to determine how much data your gaming habit costs you? Conduct your own test using traffic monitoring software. There are plenty of freeware traffic monitoring applications, like the PRTG Network Monitor and the Netlimiter 4, available online. These applications will generate exact figures that you can use to estimate your long-term data/bandwidth usage. Because usage is so dependent on game settings, we highly recommend using a traffic monitor for more accurate estimates.