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Online Video Gaming Guide | Update June 2016

Rhoonet Online Gaming Guide

I started out my own gaming experience playing 8-bit games like the Legend of Zelda and Pac-man and on the 16-bit Super Nintendo System™; The Secret of Mana and yes,     the Final Fantasy series. These games were played on a standalone console which to me seems like a hundred years ago. For rural Internet users, online gaming can be incredibly entertaining. Gaming is both a source of novel excitement in a dead end town and a way to connect with friends (via multi-players) and make new ones in rural areas where the pool of possible acquaintances is limited. Unfortunately, mobile broadband with data caps is often the most effective (if not only) way for rural users to game online. While gaming does not typically consume as much bandwidth as cynical mobile broadband subscribers often assume, predicting and monitoring the bandwidth consumption of your gaming habit – the subject of this piece – will keep your data usage under control. This guide outlines the four major gaming systems – Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and PC – through their online networks. Meant as a reference for rural gamers struggling with data caps, it delves into the bandwidth consumption of specific games in each of the four systems.  

Xbox Live

Xbox Live is Microsoft’s online multiplayer gaming and entertainment network. It connects Microsoft’s Xbox gaming consoles, smartphones, and computers to its online gaming, music streaming, and on-demand video services. Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC gamers can access a limited number of Xbox Live’s features (like avatars, game saving, and the Xbox Live Arcade) free of charge through Live Free. Gamers who subscribe to Live Gold, the network’s paid service, can access premium features like free games, live broadcasting, online multi-player gaming, and game DVR. Xbox Live restricts most features to Gold members who pay the $60 monthly fee [1]. Through the Games with Gold program, Microsoft gives Live Gold subscribers access to two complementary games per month. For Xbox 360 gamers, these downloads belong permanently to the subscriber, even if he or she terminates his or her account. For Xbox One gamers (like for all PlayStation gamers using the PlayStation Network), the games are available only as long as the gamer remains a Live Gold member. Microsoft typically releases desirable games (in the past: Tomb Raider: Definitive Addition, Halo: Spartan Assault, and Assasin’s Creed IV: Black Flag) through Live Gold. So, what kind of impact does Xbox Live have on bandwidth? To get an idea, we crowd-sourced numbers for some of the most popular Xbox games of 2015: 1. Halo 3: Without voice, Halo 3 uses approximately 40 MB of data per hour [2]. 2. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (COD:BO2): The game uses approximately 15 MB of data per hour if you are a client and 30-40 MB per hour if you are a host [3]. Note that COD is also compatible with PlayStation, Wii, and PC.  

The PlayStation Network (PSN)

The PlayStation Network (PSN) is Sony’s online entertainment network. It connects the electronics giant’s PlayStation gaming consoles, tablets, smartphones, Blu-Ray players, and HDTVs to its online gaming, music streaming, and video streaming services. PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 gamers can access the PSN’s standard gaming features (like auto-updates, free games, remote play, and live broadcasting) free of charge. Gamers who subscribe to PSN Plus, the network’s paid service, can access additional features like demos, discounts, full game trials, and 3 GB of saved game storage. Sony also releases six complementary games per month to PSN Plus subscribers. The cumulative value of these games can be significant; in 2014, Sony released 72 games that, altogether, were worth over $1,300 [4]. Considering an annual subscription costs $50 [5], PSN Plus is a good value for PlayStation gamers who like to play the field of new games, rather than stick to one or two favorite titles. To determine the impact the PSN has on bandwidth, we crowd-sourced numbers for some of the most popular PlayStation games of 2015: 1. Minecraft: The average Minecraft user on a multiplayer server uses 100 MB of data per hour [6]. Note that Minecraft is compatible with PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. 2. Killzone: Shadow Fall: The game uses approximately 195 MB of data per hour [7]. 3. Battlefield 4: This game uses approximately 65 MB of data per hour [8]. Note that Battlefield 4 is compatible with PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.  

The Nintendo Network

The Nintendo Network is (obviously) Nintendo’s online gaming network. It gives the video game company’s Nintendo 3DS and Wii U gaming consoles online gaming and video streaming capability. It also connects smartphones, tablets, and computers to its online gaming Miiverse. Nintendo 3DS, 3DS XL, 2DS and Wii U gamers can access all of the Nintendo Network’s gaming features (like Miiverse sharing, online multi-player gaming, matchmaking, and system updates) free of charge. The Nintendo Network never bills console owners (or members using Miiverse on smartphones, tablets, or computers) to use the network. The most tangible advantage of the Nintendo Network is the ability to network with other gamers through the Miiverse and through online multi-player gaming. While the Nintendo Network provides the same essential features of multi-player gaming as Xbox Live and the PSN (admittedly, sometimes to lesser success), Nintendo approaches its network with a different philosophy. By including the entirety of the Nintendo Network free with every Nintendo system, the company embraces online gameplay as a natural extension of console gaming. To determine the impact the Nintendo Network has on bandwidth, we crowd-sourced numbers for the some of the most popular Nintendo Network games: 1. FIFA 14: This classic game uses approximately 30 MB of data per hour [9]. Note that the FIFA titles are also available on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC. 2. Super Smash Bros.: The online version of the Super Mario-esque fighting game uses about 15 Kbps/per active opponent. That averages out to about 70 MB per hour of play [10].  

PC Gaming

Dedicated servers connect the most decentralized of the gaming subcategories, PC gaming, to networks that facilitate online multi-player gaming. These servers transmit information efficiently between clients who are playing the same game (more efficiently than using a shared server), but cost money to run. To address this problem, video game companies will oftentimes sponsor servers for their games. If this is not the case, gamers must pay to play on a dedicated server. Gaming servers transmit at two speeds. A 128 tick server updates 128 times per second, which gives clients the more accurate account of gameplay. A 64 tick server updates 64 times per second, which gives clients an adequate, if not ideal, account of gameplay. For games that require fast reaction time, like first person shooters, playing on a 128 tick server will actually improve your game. Note that, if you have a 60Hz monitor, the limitations of your hardware mean it is unlikely you will see a tangible difference between 64 and 128 ticks. As a subcategory, online PC gaming is most celebrated for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). To determine the impact that PC gaming has on bandwidth, we crowd-sourced numbers for the five most popular MMORGs, according to online gaming platform Raptr [11]: 1. League of Legends: An average 5v5 game takes 35 minutes to play and uses approximately 35 MB of data, so, on average, LoL uses 60 MB of data per hour [12]. 2. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: If a player uses a 64 tick server the game uses approximately 87 MB of data per hour. If a player uses a 128 tick server, the game uses approximately 246 MB of data per hour [13]. 3. 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 [14] while a 30v30 standoff in Alterac Valley uses approximately 160 MB of data per hour [14]. 4. DOTA 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2): Anecdotally, a game of 42 minutes uses 70 MB of data [15], so, on average, DOTA 2 uses somewhere around 100 MB of data per hour. 5. World of Tanks: WoT uses a very limited amount of data, by several accounts between 10 and 20 MB per hour [16].  

Game Settings

Lowering the graphics settings in the game control panel (by decreasing the screen resolution, lowering render quality, and lowering texture resolution) will reduce bandwidth usage, as will turning off background music or playing the game on mute. On a computer, decrease anti-alias (which smooths edges) and anisotropic filtering (which enhances textures) in the graphic card settings to save data. On a gaming console, reduce the graphics scaler or disable HDMI to save data.

Downloading Games, Updates, and Patches

Warning:

nothing eats data like game downloads. There are three ways to avoid wasting data on pesky downloads: (1) seek out public Wi-Fi at, for example, a local library during the download, (2) buy the physical disk, or (3) rent the physical disk, download the game, and then purchase the rights to the game online. Like the initial download, a game update or patch uses a lot of data. If you’re using a computer, turn off automatic updates and, instead, download updates manually when you are connected to public Wi-Fi.  

Live Streaming Gameplay

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) [17]. To save data, stream sparingly.

Online Video Gaming

Nintendo Switch just Keeps Getting Bigger

It’s been almost two years since Nintendo launched its successful, first-generation Switch console. They’ve been two years of relatively


steady growth for Nintendo’s hardware branch. The console has gathered a loyal following of users, putting Switch on par with predecessors like the Wii U and, some say, the revolutionary Wii console itself.



If you aren’t already on the Switch bandwagon, now’s the time to explore Nintendo’s newest hardware product. The console puts retro games, like Mario Kart, and new titles, like Splatoon, at your fingertips. The console also uses a relatively low amount of bandwidth, which makes the console a real possibility for mobile broadband users.


Console’s Retro Appeal is Driving its Popularity


5G™

While Nintendo has had success with new games like Splatoon, Rocket League, and Darkest Dungeon, the console really embraces classic games like Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, and Sonic. The console’s retro appeal drives much of its popularity. About half of Switch’s top-selling titles, for example, are retro reboot

 

Wireless Specifications for Nintendo Switch


Switch has a set of pretty standard wireless specifications:



  • Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac).
  • Bluetooth 4.1



You don’t need to go wireless with Switch. You can also connect Nintendo Switch with a wired LAN adapter in TV mode, although you’ll have to purchase the adapter separately.



Nintendo Switch on Mobile Broadband


While, officially, Nintendo recommends that you connect your Switch to a reliable cable or DSL internet connection, the console’s specifications don’t rule out 4G LTE. Like other gaming platforms,


Switch requires a download and upload speed of 1.5 Mbps or higher, speeds that 4G LTE regularly achieves.



Here’s what Nintendo says, on its troubleshooting page, about connecting your Switch console to the internet:

We recommend use of a high-speed, wired Internet connection such as a Cable, DSL, or Fiber Optics Internet connection. Use of other services, such as cellular or satellite Internet, may result in lag, latency, or slow download speeds that prevent use of some online features. If you’re experiencing an issue that may be related to use of these services, try another type of Internet connection if possible.



Luckily, lags don’t ruin retro games the same way they ruin the real-time multiplayers that are so popular on the PS4 and Xbox One

 

consoles. Given the low-bandwidth requirements of its top-selling games, Switch is one of the better consoles to purchase if you use mobile broadband.



Track Your Mobile Data Usage


If you use mobile broadband, you’re probably also worried about wasting tons of data on Switch. No worries. To help you track your data usage, the carriers Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all offer streamlined online and text services. These services give you easy access to useful information about your data use.



While carrier services are useful, they aren’t particularly specific. To determine how much data you spend on Switch specifically, use a free traffic monitoring application like PRTG Network Monitor or Netlimiter 4. These applications generate exact numbers that you can use to estimate your long-term data usage with greater accuracy.

Online Video Gaming

Final Fantasy XV: The Biggest Game Leak

Official Release Date: November 29th 2016

The official release date for the much-anticipated fifteenth installment of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XV, is

November 29 of this year. The release date hasn’t, however, stopped gaming stores in Peru, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere from breaking the street date and selling the game early to eager fans. Nor has it stopped those who purchased the same from sharing information about gameplay online.

Because some stores worldwide have disregarded the game’s simultaneous global release date, many people have already



purchased and played the unreleased game. For those who haven’t, the internet is currently awash with spoilers. YouTube users who purchased the game, for example, have been uploading gameplay videos that leave little to the imagination. Some bloggers have even criticized the most recent trailers for giving away too much.

In an official statement, game director Hajime Tabata confirmed that stores disregarded the release date meant to give all players a chance to discover the game’s surprises at the same time. He blamed

gaming™

the early releases on “regional circumstances”and said that developer Square Enix is doing all it can to prevent the spread of spoilers. He also advised those who are waiting for November 29 to stay away from potential spoilers.

Many have been waiting for Final Fantasy XV for a long time – some for over a decade. Square Enix first announced the installment at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) back in 2006. In the seven years between 2006 and 2013,fans circulated many rumors about the status of its release. These included rumors that Square Enix had cancelled the game or that it was permanent vaporware, a game stuck in the conceptual phase forever.

In 2013, Square Enix re-revealed the open world action role-playing game. The re-reveal breathed new life into the franchise and the year later, Square Enix released a long-awaited Final Fantasy XVdemo.

The game is set in the divided world of Eos, where the two protagonists – Noctis and his fiancé

Streaming movie on Netflix™

Lunafreya – must recapture the magic crystal of Lucis from the clutches of Lucis’s enemy nation, Niflheim. Noctis, crown prince of Lucis, is the only playable character, but the world is complex and features an array of key secondary characters including the evil Emperor IedolasAldercapt.

This most recent installment mimics the themes of other installments in the iconic Final Fantasy series – including fantasy, folklore, a hero,


Final Fantasy I in 1987 on the Nintendo Entertainment System

two countries at war, multiple or complex villains, and a mythic battle of good versus evil. These have been the series’ motifs since Square released the first installment in 1987 and the newest game does not neglect them.

Square Enix is dedicated to making its newest installment run smoothly. The developer will release a patch on November 29, called the “Crown Update,” that will improve several aspects of the games function – like camera improvements that make it easier for the player to track action in narrow areas – and will add new items to the world – like recipes and more fish varieties for collectors.

Along with the patch, Final Fantasy XV will be available everywhere on November 29, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Please feel free to share, tweet and add to the Final Fantasy XV conversation as the link unravels.

Online Video Gaming

The Hidden Cost of Online Video Gaming: How Much You Pay, Per Hour, to Game Online

Have you ever wonder about how much you are paying to play online gaming in your rural community where the only viable options

include point to point wireless, satellite internet (not a viable choice for head-to-head video games) or 3G and 4G LTE wireless? Well, join me for some data driven dollars and sense information.

Compared to gaming on a fixed-price internet connection like cable (which costs less than $40 per month), gaming with mobile data can be expensive. A gigabyte (GB) of mobile data typically costs between $4 and $10 from one of the major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint) and, if you exceed your data limit, that number could get as high as $15 per GB.

Compared to other activities, online gaming doesn’t use an excessive amount of data. In fact, the typical online game will consume about 5%* of the data that a standard definition video will consume in the same time period. It is also difficult to estimate how much data any online game will use since data use varies widely based on (1) the gaming platform, (2) the complexity of the game, (3) the settings, and (4) the playing style.

Gaming Platform (most efficient to least)

Mobile Phone: Because engineers assume you’re using mobile broadband when you game on a phone, gaming apps are designed to use less data than console or PC games.

Streaming movie on Netflix™

Gaming Console: Because it is a dedicated device engineered for gaming efficiency, gaming on a console, first, is a better experience than gaming on a PC and, second, typically uses less mobile data.

PC: Particularly if you are running other online applications, but, also, all the time, PCs use more data than consoles to run online games.

Game Complexity (most efficient to least)

Turn Taking Games: Turn taking games, like online chess and card games, use little data. They also don’t require a fast internet connection to play effectively. Think around 20 MB per hour.

Streaming movie on Netflix™

Single Player Games:Single player puzzles and games that don’t require a fast response time, like Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and Farmville, are data friendly. Think around 30 MB per hour.

Single Player Real-time Games: Single player games, like first person shooters, that require a fast response time use more data. Think around 50 MB per hour.

Streaming movie on Netflix™

Multi-Player Real-time Games: Multi-player games, like team first person shooters, that require a fast response time and verbal communication between players use even more data. Think 70 MB per hour and up.

Settings

Graphics: If you face constraints on your mobile data, you can reduce your hourly use by adjusting the game and monitor settings to support low-quality graphics (lower screen res, render

Streaming movie on Netflix™

quality, texture resolution, anti-alias, and anisotropic filtering).

Sound: Turning off the game’s background music or, better, muting sound altogether will preserve data.

Playing Style

Anecdotally, World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor can use anywhere between 25 MB and 160 MB of data per hour. Raids, for example, use approximately 25 MB of data per hour, while a 30v30 standoff in Alterac Valley uses 160 MB of data per hour.

Streaming: 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). To save data, stream sparingly.

Streaming movie on Netflix™

Downloading: Downloading the game uses much more data than playing it does. To avoid wasting your plan on downloads: (1) seek out public Wi-Fi at, for example, a local library during the download, (2) buy the physical disk, or (3) rent the physical disk, download the game, and then purchase the rights to the game online.

Streaming movie on Netflix™

Updating: Like the initial download, a game update or patch uses a lot of data. If you’re using a computer, turn off automatic updates and, instead, download updates manually when you are connected to fixed-cost Wi-Fi.

Because data use varies based on settings, conduct your own test using traffic monitoring software for a more accurate estimate.There are plenty of freeware traffic monitoring applications, like the PRTG Network Monitor and the Netlimiter 4, available online.

By my calculations, the average online game (one that uses 50 MB of data per hour) costs between $0.25 and $0.75 worth of data per hour to play, but let’s break it down further. Based on game complexity, here are my data use estimates for PC Gamer’s 5 highest rated new games of 2016.

1. Dark Souls 3 (94%): This third-person action role playing game with multiplayer capabilities will use around 70 MB of data per hour.

2. XCOM 2 (94%): This fast paced combat game requires a quick response time and will use around 70 MB of data per hour.

3. Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak (90%): This tactical game for up to six players will use about 80 MB of data per hour.

4. Doom (88%): This first person shooter with impressive lineage will use around 60 MB of data per hour.

5. Overwatch (88%): This team-based multiplayer game will use around 70 MB of data per hour.

*My calculation: 1 GB (average for one hour of standard definition video) / 50 MB (average for one hour of online gaming) per hour.

Please add to this story and share with your gaming friends, groups and family. Thanks a bunch!

Online Video Gaming

How Much Mobile Data Does Pokémon Go Use?

Last week, Congress asked Pokémon Go creator Niantic to make public how much mobile data their hit game uses.

The Pokemon Go App that is draining cellular bandwidth

The Pokemon Go App that is draining cellular bandwidth

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committeeis, apparently, concerned about the strain the gamemay put on the country’s cellular networks. The inquiry was likely inspired by anecdotes of Pokémon Go players exceeding their monthly data caps and accumulating expensive overage charges from their cellular carriers.

Since its staggered launch earlier this month, Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. With 26 million daily active users in the United States, the game has twice the retention rate of other online games [1]. Pokémon Go, the first highly successful augmented reality game, has also attracted adiverse group of players that reaches beyond the conventional gaming demographics. The congressional inquiry into Pokémon Go deals with the negative effects of the game’s widespread success – a potential spike in data usage among the game’s players. The committee’s four questions demand an unprecedented level of transparency on data use from Niantic:

  1. Are there best practices that Niantic follows to minimize the amount of data consumers use when playing Pokémon Go?
  2. Has Niantic worked with wireless carriers to ensure that consumers are not unexpectedly hit with large overage charges?
  3. Does Niantic conspicuously warn customers before they start using the app about how much data the app consumes?
  4. Does Niantic have any mechanism in place to make sure consumers are made whole in the event that they are hit with an unexpected overage charge resulting from the use of your app?”
 

The congressional inquiry into Pokémon Go puzzled gaming experts, who point out that data use varies substantially from player to player and that individuals can measure the data use of the game on their own.

GPS location gathering consumes the most data for Pokemon Go

GPS location gathering consumes the most data for Pokemon Go

Networks themselves are not reporting huge spikes in data use due to the popularity of the game.

Verizon, for example, reported that: “Our customers using Pokémon GO High overage charges experienced by players from cellular carriershave not seen dramatic data consumption waves. The app sends information in bursts rather than streaming – as a video service does – so GPS location is the most data-intensive task it completes. The app represents less than 1% of our overall network data traffic on the Verizon network.”

Third parties, like Tech Insider, have also already calculated the data use of Pokémon Go and sometimes found that the game uses less data than other popular apps like Facebook or Snapchat [2].

Sometimes Pokemon Go uses less data and sometimes more. The Jury is still out.

Sometimes Pokemon Go uses less data and sometimes more. The Jury is still out.

Unfortunately, the results of third party inquiries are just as anecdotal as the reports of Pokémon Go players exceeding data caps, since they are almost entirely based on trials by one player.

While no complete study on Pokémon Go data use exists (perhaps Niantic will furnish congress with comprehensive statistics), we’ve compiled a table of the results so far:

 
Source Result
Pokémon Go Database [3]

2 – 8 MB/hour

Tech Insider [2]

3 MB/hour

MobiPicker [4]

11 MB/hour

Android Central [3]

20 MB/hour

 

As you can see, the results vary drastically due to diverse playing styles and settings. Even if Niantic supplies congress with statistics about average data use, these statistics won’t be particularly useful for any individual player because there is so much variation. Track your data use yourself, then, through your cellphone carrier.

Online Video Gaming

Pokémon Go Presents New Hurdles for Rural Gaming

Since its staggered launchearlier this month, Pokémon Gohas taken the world by storm. With 26 million

The game has a generated 26 million daily users

The game has a generated 26 million daily users

daily active users in the United States, the game has twice the retention rate of other online games on the market today [1]. Pokémon Go, the first highly successful augmented reality game is, in a word, a sensation.

In rural areas, however, you won’t find the same crowds of people hunting for Pokémon that the game has become infamous for in places like Central Park [2]. Although gaming has always been especially important in rural communities without access to other novel diversions, poor mobile broadband coverage and an urban-centric design have excluded many rural dwellers from the game.

Mobile broadband is spotty or nonexistent in much of rural America, which means connecting to the internet outside of the home is impossible for many rural dwellers.

Mobile broadband provides your only access to Pokemon Go

Mobile broadband provides your only access to Pokemon Go

By the FCC’s count, 87% of rural Americans lack access to a mobile broadband connection with a download speed of at least 10 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbps, the minimum requirement to play Pokémon Go [3, 4].

Pokémon Go requires a constant and reliable internet connection to function. Since mobility is a key component of Pokémon Go, mobile broadband is the only connection that lets player take full advantage of the game’s world. The lack of reliable mobile broadband in rural areas presents a challenge for the future of augmented reality games like Pokémon Go in rural markets.

Pokémon Go relies on public property – like parks and monuments – to host PokéStops and gyms. In rural areas, public properties and, therefore, these features are few and far between.

A PokeStop enables the gathering of Pokeballs

A PokeStop enables the gathering of Pokeballs

In the game,PokéStops are essential to catching Pokémon, since players use the stops to stock up on Pokéballs. The gyms are key to training Pokémon, letting players into the component of the game beyond simply collecting Pokémon. Without convenient access to either, rural Pokémon Go players are at an acute disadvantage.

Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon Go, based the locations of PokéStops and gyms on data that users submitted to the augmented reality beta Ingress. Ingress, which launched in 2011,

niantic

invited users to submit notable public locations in their communities to become game portals. Ultimately, Niantic pulled 5 million locations from Ingress to create the Pokémon Go world [5].

Because Ingress involved people from both urban and rural communities all over the world, there are PokéStops and gyms almost everywhere (including the north and south poles [5]). Rural users have, however, taken to Twitter to report significant scarcities in rural Maine, Vermont, Illinois, and New York [6].

Although implementing reliable mobile broadband networks in rural areas is a hugely expensive and labor-intensive project, getting more PokéStops and gyms in your rural community is not. Niantic is still accepting suggestions for both through the Pokémon support page. Take a picture of the public area or business you’d like to see become a part of the game and submit it here.

Online Video Gaming

Top Five Video Games of 2016 How Much Bandwidth Is Required To Play?

Living in the country for most people means a love affair with the outdoors which includes hunting, fishing, farming, hiking, photography and enjoying the open space filled with ponds, lakes,

Rural video gaming creates a very happy and content family life

Rural video gaming creates a very happy and content family life

streams, forest and animal life. For entertainment, most rural dwellers wrap themselves into online gaming or video streaming.

Where cable and DSL are unavailable, rural users must resort to gaming on a mobile broadband, bonded broadband or satellite internet connection. Mobile broadband comes with internet connections limit – with monthly data caps, satellite internet comes in at a much higher latency which takes the fun out of playing MMOs, while bonded internet can become a very expensive solution. To avoid throttling or, worse, overage fees, gamers should be aware of approximately how much data their game of choice uses.

Crowd Sourced Statistics on Bandwidth Requirements

At Rhoonet, we crowd sourced statistics on bandwidth requirements from X Box Live, Play Station 4, and PC gaming

Users generated engagements

Users generated engagements

forums to build a reference sheet for the top 5 new online games of 2016: Dark Souls III, Ratchet & Clank, ReCore, Doom, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Bandwidth Usage Results

1. Dark Souls III | Developer: FromSoftware | Publisher: Bandai Namco | Release date: March 24 | Gaming Console: PS4, XBox One, PC

Like the other Dark Souls games, the third Dark Souls uses bandwidth very efficiently. On multiple gaming boards, users

Enjoy sixty hours of Dark Souls per month

Enjoy sixty hours of Dark Souls per month

reported the game using between 20 and 30 MB of data per hour [1, 2]. Since there are 1000 MB in 1 GB, a gamer could play over sixty hours of Dark Souls per month on a 2 GB mobile broadband plan. This number can also be used as a rough estimate for the other games on our list.

The Dark Souls III download is approximately 17.3 GB large, so actually downloading the game, like downloading most games, will strain connections with very limited bandwidth [3].

2. Ratchet & Clank (PS4) | Developer: Insomniac Games | Publisher: Sony | Release date: April 12 | Console: PS4

The Ratchet & Clank (PS4) download is approximately 24.5 GB large, so consider connecting to a fast, unlimited connection, like a friend’s cable or DSL internet, to download instead of using a limited bandwidth connection [4].

3. ReCore E3 | Developer: Armature Studio, Comcept | Publisher: Microsoft Studios | Release date: September 13 | Console: XBox One

ReCore E3 leaked

ReCore E3 leaked

On June 12, a source leaked the box art and official release date of this highly anticipated game. Information about the download size and data use of the game is not, however, yet available.

4. DOOM (2016) | Developer: id-Software | Publisher: Bethesda | Release date: May 13 | Console: XBox One, PS4, PC

The DOOM download is approximately 45 GB large, so actually downloading the game, like downloading most games, will strain

The Doom download is approximately 45 GB

The Doom download is approximately 45 GB

limited bandwidth connections [5]. If you’re using satellite internet, consider starting the download when bandwidth usage is unregulated at night (if your provider offers this). On a slow connection, however, DOOM could take more than 12 hours to download [6].

5. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End| Developer: Naughty Dog | Publisher: Sony | Release date: April 26 | Console: PS4

The Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End download is approximately 50 GB large,

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

so not small. The game also made headlines for a big, 5 GB patch that adds multiplayer support, bonus features, and “Encounter Select” [7].

You Can Track Data Use in Real Time

Because data use varies widely based on settings, conduct your own test using traffic monitoring software for an accurate estimate of hourly bandwidth use. There are plenty of freeware traffic monitoring applications, like the PRTG Network Monitor and the Netlimiter 4, available online.

Please feel free as always to add to this conversation. Are there any other game(s) you would like Rhoonet to gather information on bandwidth usage? Just tell us here.

Online Video Gaming

Why Can’t I Play Online Games with my Satellite Internet Connection?

Many rural internet users turn to satellite for reliable internet access in remote areas. With throughput speeds that rival the speeds of 4G LTE mobile broadband in urban centers, satellite internet is technically fast enough to support online gaming. The
 technology’s high latency, however, makes playing real time games impossible. The latency or lag-time is the reaction time between the gamer’s action versus the game server response time. With satellite internet, the response time can be very slow for when playing multi-players games which can comprise large number of players.
 
 

Online Gaming Speed Requirements

Download speed (or downlink) is the speed, in megabits per second, that an internet connection receives online data packets over the network. When you browse the


internet, read emails, or stream video, the download speed is the only speed that matters.

Upload speed (or uplink) is the speed that an internet connection sends online data packets over the network. When you use an online search engine, send emails, or upload photos or documents the upload speed is what matters.

 

 

Since most users download data more often that they upload it, asymmetrical networks privilege downloads. Online gaming involves both downloading (loading worlds, synthesizing multiplayer gaming) and uploading (controlling a character, actually playing).

 

The X Box Live Support Center offers the following minimal speed/throughput requirements for any online gaming:

– A download speed of 3 Mbps
– An upload speed of 0.5 Mbps

 

Satellite Internet Speeds

Satellite internet connects subscribers to the internet by transmitting satellite waves between satellite dishes on earth and satellite dishes in geostationary orbit. America’s most popular satellite internet providers are the national carriers HughesNet, Exede (which boasts the fastest speeds), and Dishnet.

 

While throughput speeds vary based on the provider, a satellite connection typically has:

– A download speed of 5 to 15 Mbps
– An upload speed of 1 to 2 Mbps

 

Online Gaming Latency Requirements

Latency is the time it takes for the data packet to travel from your computer to the internet server that it is communicating with and back. Obviously, good throughputs

 will decrease latency, but distance from the local hub will increase it. To avoid lags that make gameplay impossible, real time gaming requires:

 

– A latency of less than 100 milliseconds (ms)

 

 

 

 

Satellite Internet Latency

For satellite internet, the “local” hubs are geostationary satellites that orbit 22,000 miles above earth’s surface. It takes time for a data packet to travel 44,000 miles there and back. As a result, satellite has the worst latency in the broadband business. Typically, a satellite connection has:

 

– A latency of 500 to 1500 ms

 

Since it can take over a second to transmit data packets via satellite, the connection significantly decreases the user response time in games like Age of Empires, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Minecraft, and World of Warcraft. Even if you are able to load these games’ online worlds without issue (which the speeds of satellite internet will support), the lag time makes it difficult to play them effectively.

 

What Does Work

Satellite internet does not make all online gaming impossible. If you’re a gamer trying to entertain yourself with satellite internet, however, you’re going to have to lower
your standards. Traditional, turn based games like online chess and card games will work on satellite, as will single-player games that do not require a fast response time, like Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and Farmville.

Online Video Gaming

Eliminating Gaming Lags: Three Ways to Reduce Packet Loss and Latency

Are you a video gaming enthusiast? Are you always concern about packet loss and latency? Gone are the days when video gaming was done on stand-alone consoles like the Super Nintendo Entertainment game1 Systems™ and Sega Genesis™ where one never had to worry about lag time. Well, here we are today in the year 2015, and latency is a reality because gaming requires broadband connectivity via a DSL, cable internet, 3G 4G cellular network or a very expansive T-1 line.

 

Ok, let’s get started. Packet loss – when online data packets go missing during transmission. What happens? The packet is again retransmitted and stacked in the right order. Just so you know, packets get lost all the time due to numerous factors; oversubscribed game1 network or just a plain old slow transmission like dial-up, satellite internet or a 2G cellular network.– and latency can slow down online gameplay as much as inadequate download or upload speeds. In fact, since online gaming requires a relatively small amount of bandwidth, packet loss and latency are actually the primary Internet-based causes of lagging gameplay.

At Rhoonet, we like dispensing information without all of the technical jargons and acronyms.

Measure packet loss and latency by “pinging” the nearest hub, which tests connectivity and measures the time it takes for the signal to travel between the host and the destination (round-trip). Use an app such as http://www.pingtest.net/. As a general rule, online gaming will lag noticeably any time the ping is above 100 milliseconds. Minimizing ping, then, is essential to seamless gameplay.

Here are five ways to do just that:

1. Choose an Internet provider with a low base ping rate. Every type of provider – from cable to satellite – operates on a different latency baseline. Compare and contrast the baselines below and choose the provider that serves your needs. Note that satellite Internet does not have a sufficient ping rate to support online gaming.

T1 line: 0 to 10 milliseconds

Cable: 5 to 40 milliseconds

DSL: 10 to 70 milliseconds

Mobile broadband: 75 to 100 milliseconds

Satellite: 500 milliseconds

Since broadcasting Wi-Fi increases both packet loss and ping rate, it is best to game with a wired connection. If you typically use Wi-Fi, connect your computer directly to your wireless router using an Ethernet cable.

2. Choose a local game server. For every 1500 miles between the host and the destination servers, add 25 to 75 milliseconds to the ping rate. Sometimes a gamer has no choice but to connect to an official server that is an inconvenient number of miles away. If, however, you do have a choice, choose the server that is closest.

If you can’t change your server, change your routing table. You can accomplish this by connecting to a public domain name system like Google Public DNS that speeds up contact between remote servers.

As a side note, if bandwidth is not an issue but slow gameplay is, connect to a 124 tick server rather than a 64 tick server. This will increase the rate at which the game updates, giving you more time to react to events in the game.

3. Adjust your Quality of Service (QoS) settings to prioritize gaming and throttle download speed. Load-balancing routers come with QoS software. Alternatively, you can download and use a load-balancing application like NetBalancer or Traffic Shaper XP.
 

First, if you share your Internet connection with others or use the game1 Internet for other tasks while gaming, adjust your router’s QoS settings to prioritize packets sent to and from your game. This prevents extraneous traffic from hogging bandwidth.

Second, throttle download speed. Download speed, the most important speed for online tasks like browsing and receiving e-mail, is typically the least important for online gaming. The two speeds typically neglected by providers – upload and ping – will increase if you sacrifice download speed.

 

Online Video Gaming

How Much Data Does Online Gaming Use?

gaming1The 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

gaming2 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.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (COD: BO2): The game uses approximately 15 MB of data per hour if you are a client and 30-40 MB per hour if you are a host.

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
gaming3 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

gaming4 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.

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