How Internet Speed Affects Gaming

Jun 17, 2020

We’ve all been there.  You’re striding across the wide-open savannah of World of Warcraft’s barrens, when you see it. The hulking shape of a well armored warrior riding his mount directly at you. A fight is coming, and there’s nothing you can do about it except get ready. The fight is going your way, when .. you’re attacking except … you’re not because your latency has spiked and suddenly your avatar has died. And now you must walk from the graveyard all the way back to your body. Ugh.

Okay, maybe we haven’t ALL been to the vast plains that are the barrens, but anybody that’s played any kind of online game has been affected by latency. Latency, or ping, is the amount of time it takes for a signal to travel from your computer to the game server and back, measured in microseconds. When latency spikes the amount of time it takes to perform any kind of maneuver (task?) lengthens and in a combat situation that usually means you’re done for.

What causes latency?

Well. It’s complicated.

Think of your gaming set up as an eco-system.  There are many parts of that ecosystem that all work in tandem. We’re not going to discuss hardware relating to your computer or console – those requirements are listed with games for purchase if necessary, but instead the factors that work together to create the perfect storm that can lead to game deaths.

infographic of internet ecosystem

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be sent back and forth through your network at any given time. During peak traffic those pipes can become congested with more requests for bandwidth than is available and can slow your experience.

Internet speed is the speed at which your data can travel to the server, and back. Because most internet traffic is being consumed, bandwidth requirements downstream are much larger than those for upstream. However, for gamers both are important! For each button push or keystroke, you are sending information back up to the server to make your avatar jump or run. Speed is provisioned based on the internet package you purchased, and a faster speed can help in times like this – especially a faster upload speed.

Additionally, your modem connection can be a factor in your game performance. A direct wired connection is always going to perform better than a wireless connection. For the average user, and most gamers, it won’t make a massive difference but if you’re gaming competitively, or for twitch broadcast which will also use more of your upload bandwidth to send your broadcast, it’s worth considering.

However, if you are seeing issues with latency and your speed tests are coming back without issues, it might be worth troubleshooting your internet connection, checking for additional devices and old cables that may be leaking signal or producing interference.

Keep these things in mind, and perhaps next time as the battleground shrinks around you, the words #1 Victory Royale may appear on your screen. Browse through our internet and TV packages and benefit from high internet speeds for every need. 

Happy Gaming!