Video games, network capacity and the Covid-19 crisis
With network capacity a serious concern during the Covid-19 crisis, ISFE explains what impact video game play has on the network and which measures are being taken by video game companies to mitigate potential network issues.
- Video games are not typically streamed and streaming is still a very small part of the industry. For normal game play, including through multiplayer mode, or when a player interacts through social communications facilities, the impact on the network is low compared to popular audiovisual streaming services. The majority of video games can be played in an offline mode.
- Because streaming is not the way that video games are typically enjoyed, the impact that video games may have on network capacity is limited and may only arise at the point of download, for example, when downloading a new game release and when updating a title.
- To mitigate potential network issues due to downloads during the Covid-19 crisis, video game publishers and platforms are taking measures such as installing slots (so-called rolling-out schedules) for downloads of new releases to ensure these happen late at night to early morning when the internet usage is low, and this according to territories and time zones.
- Importantly, video games companies work hand in hand with their partners, the internet service providers, the content delivery networks and the platforms to monitor patterns and to address, early on, any network issues caused by releases or updates by implementing mitigation measures.
- Such measures are implemented to cause minimal friction with the gameplay experience. In this unprecedented situation, video games are an important way for players and families to interact by playing together, to stay in touch with friends, to learn through educational game modules, to engage in physical activity while at home and to enjoy culture through virtual visits. Video game companies are working hard to communicate to their player communities about any necessary efforts and measures outlined above.
- Video game companies and their trade associations across Europe and globally are working to contribute to the wider effort against COVID-19 by informing the sector and players on measures to take to limit the pandemic. They provide families with tips and guidance on how to structure gameplay sensibly, to use parental control tools and family settings.
ISFE notes that BEREC statement from 30/03/2020 indicates that the overall traffic on fixed and on mobile networks has significantly increased during the Covid-19 crisis, but that no major congestion issues have occurred.