Lagging Connectivity Remains the Core Gaming Industry Issue

Amancay Tapia

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For gamers in shared households, the holidays present a peak time for bandwidth demand. More people are home during this period. They’re using the internet for holiday deals shopping, searching for recipes, or streaming the latest movie. All these activities require a strong internet connection with limited lag that’s able to supply bandwidth to a house full of TVs, phones, tablets, smartwatches, and myriad other devices. This usage puts constraints on the available bandwidth for a gamer’s session.

For the gamers in the family, the quality of the internet connection relates directly to the quality of the gaming experience. If they experience dreaded lag, then they simply can’t compete with other players.

For gamers playing e-sports, shooters, or other competitive games, a lagging interrupted connection can cost them money and prestige. Improving gaming connection is just one of the issues facing the online gaming industry, but it’s a primary driver of the gaming experience. And unfortunately, it’s an underestimated concern, even by the biggest game producers. For example, Blizzard had server connectivity issues with “Overwatch 2” and Activision had problems with the recent “Call of Duty” launch.

Connection performance is complex, so people often invest more capital in hardware and accessories than they do with a high-quality modem or new services that improve connections.

Setting the World Competition Stage

In the coming years, more market consolidation will occur that will streamline global competition. Providing platforms for people to compete and to offer seamless real-time online communication is a challenge that’s as old as the internet itself. There are still technological and other changes necessary before online gaming participants can partake on a worldwide stage. This includes developments like 5G that provides a pathway for mobile-based gaming competition. There are also opportunities for internet providers to cooperate more closely, so they can strategise and combine resources to improve connectivity.

As gaming companies and internet providers work together, they’ll find common ground and ways to improve connection speeds and gaming quality. They’ll need to do this without shortchanging the experience of others streaming TV, watching YouTube videos on their phone, or performing other bandwidth-heavy actions.

Latency and Lag Diminish the Gaming Experience

A continual problem for the gaming industry and a perpetual thorn in the side for gamers is “lag.” When a gamer plays, there are continuous “pings” of information sent from their computer to another one on the same network. Pings are a series of one-way journeys that take milliseconds to complete, but the number of milliseconds matters.

When the ping returns to the originated computer, the time required to do the “round trip” is known as latency, which determines the quality and speed of the connection. Bandwidth also comes into play, and it’s essentially the quantity of digital information that can flow through the pipe at a specific point in time.

Lag, which makes even the calmest person throw their controller or keyboard in a rage, is a delay between telling a game to take an action and the action completing on screen. Lag can come when the gamer’s internet connection is unstable and loses packets of information or happens when there are high ping numbers paired with a slow internet connection. Gamers love to play fast, so if they put in too many commands, such as “run, shoot, reload, or change views” in just a second or two, this can cause a buildup of lag and frozen play. Cue the “rage quit.”

Industry research firm Bryter conducted a 2022 gaming survey that found latency issues are a core issue for nearly every gamer. Their study found 30 percent of mobile gamers noted latency frequently, while 22 percent of PC players reported the program regularly. Most concerning for game operators is the finding that 44 percent of gamers encountering latency quit the game and played later, while 24 percent played something else. This represents massive potential lost revenue for game providers, especially if gamers shift to a competitor’s game.

Improving Lag with AI-Driven Routing

ExitLag, a company working to improve connections and reduce lag in a novel way, operates more than 800 servers throughout the world, which finds the best routes for players. By placing these servers around the world, ExitLag can reduce ping and latency by making connections closer to a given gamer’s location. It uses AI and multiple-path connection technology to route packets of information through various connections, finding the one that’s the fastest and least likely to cause interruptions. It connects them through a private network to reduce lag, working in the background to optimise connections in real-time.

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Lucas Stolze, Chief Executor Office at ExitLag and a top gaming industry expertPhoto byPhoto Courtesy of Lucas Stolze

Lucas Stolze, Chief Executor Office at ExitLag says that "this dynamic process prevents packet losses and unwanted spikes which can create lag and interrupted connections but there are additional steps gamers can take to improve gaming connections".

According to the CEO at ExitLag, "these include using an ethernet cable to improve the stability and speed of internet connections. Or adding a range extender to help their gaming device access a signal if the main Wi-Fi device is on the other side of the house obstructed by several walls. Additionally, turning off or unplugging wireless speakers, mobile chargers, and other electronics can reduce the disruption of Wi-Fi signals."

Realising Growth

A market report from PwC, concluded that the global gaming industry will rise to a $321.1 billion market size by 2026, representing an 8.4% CAGR from 2021. The report notes countries besides the U.S. and China will pace much of this growth, with Turkey growing at a 24.1% CAGR and Pakistan following at 21.9%. Realizing this growth requires smooth connections that allow these countries’ gamers to participate with other players around the world.

Exceeding global gaming predictions will require further development and improvements in e-sports and gaming. Mobile gaming and cloud gaming will continue to drive growth, as they’ll give players new opportunities and easier access to try new games while enjoying a connected cloud-based experience.

Technological developments such as virtual reality and blockchain-based platforms are necessary to expand the global user base. Underlying all this growth is a quality gaming connection, with zero lag that enables people from Jakarta to Jacksonville to develop global communities on equal playing fields.

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