The PlayStation 4 is out in the shops now but a survey from Virgin Media suggests that whichever of the next-gen consoles you buy, if your broadband isn’t up to it, you could be in for a long wait before you can play.
Why? Three letters; DLC. When setting up your Xbox One or PS4 for the first time you’ll want to download free games and install apps and your shiny new machine will automatically check for updates.
Some games, like Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack are around 40GB in size and Call of Duty: Ghosts weighs in at a hefty 50GB. If you’re not installing games from a disc and you’re downloading instead, you could be in for a long wait before you start playing.
Virgin Media has compiled a table showing gamers how long they can expect to wait when downloading big games, based on their broadband speeds.
Things such as network traffic and other people in your home accessing the internet can also affect speeds, so these figures are only estimates, but interesting nonetheless:
|Home broadband speed||Estimated download time for one 50GB game|
|14.7Mbps (national average)||8 hr 48 mins|
|30Mbps||4 hr 19 mins|
|60Mbps||2 hr 9 mins|
A survey of 2,000 gamers reveals that 78 per cent of gamers will be waiting around five hours before they could play a 50GB game. Under half (42 per cent) think the wait will be less than two hours, suggesting that people are underestimating how long things will take.
Virgin Media, which is Sony’s launch partner for the PlayStation 4, is keen to point out that its download speeds are higher on average than the rest of the UK, with its basic 30Mbps package reliably delivering speeds that are almost double the national average.
A 50GB game would take eight hours and forty eight minutes to download on a 14.7Mbps connection, Virgin Media says.
Joe Lathan, director of broadband and home phone for Virgin Media adds: “Anyone considering buying a next generation games console, now or for Christmas, should also think carefully about whether they’ve got the broadband to make the most of it. Virgin Media customers are set to get a substantial head start, and could be many levels ahead while others are still waiting.”
Next year will see Virgin Media applying speed boosts to its existing services and launching a new 152Mbps product.
On this new product, Virgin Media says that a 50GB game will take 51 minutes to download.
A guide to pwning n00bs: It’s the latency, stupid
When it comes to modern gaming it’s not all about download speeds. Any seasoned Call of Duty fan will tell you that latency is as important, if not moreso than having plenty of bandwidth. A tiny amount of lag can make all the difference between getting sniped by a teenager from Wisconsin and not.
Typically, latency above 50 milliseconds is when you would start to see seriously noticeable lag in multiplayer games, while 20 milliseconds or less is ideal.
It’s interesting to note that Ofcom’s latest speed survey shows that latency on Virgin Media’s superfast products is generally slightly higher than what you could expect on a BT or Plusnet fibre-based connection.
As you can see, none of the services surveyed reported latency higher than 30 milliseconds. A similar survey shows that latency is higher on ADSL2+ services.
If you’re paying for premium broadband you’ll get a good quality, low latency service. But the higher the download speed, the less time you’ll be spent sitting around waiting to play.
If you want to check if your connection is up to next gen gaming, use our broadband speed test tool.