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Network Performance and Gamer Experience – The US Edition

GameBench Staff

PIQ 22.07

Next Thursday 8th September – 10.00 PST / 13.00 EST / 18.00 GMT – we’re running the second of our popular series of free-to-attend Performance IQ webinars, showcasing our up-to-the-minute analyses of the game performance of major network providers in key global territories: the UK, the US, the EU and Korea. Attendees of each event will receive a bonus: a dedicated GameBench LABS report detailing the performances of the key competitors we’ve selected for analysis and comparison. In advance of this second webinar, focused on the immense and fast-moving US market, we summarise below some of our key findings.

Making sense of the metaverseA snapshot of the market

The US is – based on current data from our friends at NewZoo – the world’s second-largest video gaming market, behind, of course, China. 65% of the 335 million US population plays video games. Estimates vary quite widely between analysts, however, NewZoo predicts for 2022 a US player universe of 197.16 million, with associated revenues of $47.62 billion. Interestingly, this total US income is only marginally less than that predicted for China, which is estimated by NewZoo at $50.18 billion in 2022, with a player universe of 742.19 million – almost four times the number of US players.

While cloud gaming’s immense potential is still unfolding, hugely popular online multiplayer games like W 88 – currently played by over 50% of all gamers – are already pushing ISPs and mobile operators to the edges of their current capabilities. So the relative online multiplayer and cloud gaming performances of the dominant US ISPs are of particular and immediate relevance to today’s and tomorrow’s gamer experience in this critical market.

Network ExpectationsSummary of ISP latency scores

In advance of next week’s webinar, we’ve gone coast-to-coast, examining the performances of leading US ISPs Optimum and Cox. We selected the popular game Destiny 2, on the Stadia and GeForce Now cloud gaming platforms. Gameplay was conducted on two separate days, with each of our LABS team conducting multiple 15-30 minute sessions. We additionally tested Destiny 2 on an Xbox console system to create a reference for comparison.

top game complaints

As we can see from the above chart, Optimum and Cox median latency results came in more or less neck-and-neck, when compared by cloud streamed platform. (We would, naturally, need a far larger sample set to formally validate these initial results.) Compared against our control – the console gaming results – the latency experienced on cloud gaming over both ISPs would need significant improvement.

Network ExpectationsKey conclusions

The primary observations from our recent UK analysis are clearly reemphasised here – and we’ll be digging further into this during next week’s webinar: broadband speed alone is no longer an adequate indicator of the quality of online gamer experience. This is a highly complex area, even for the most advanced network engineering teams. However, GameBench LABS is already able to identify and isolate instances where the local gateway – the home router, for example – is impacting latency. A further critical development in network performance measurement for gaming is that ping – whether loaded or unloaded – is in itself no longer adequate for the prediction of experience quality. Overall, the consistently reinforced takeaway is that latency has now clearly overtaken broadband speed as the focus area for network providers seeking to provide – and guarantee and commercially benefit from – optimum experience in both online multiplayer and cloud gaming. To get the full picture, participate in the discussion with our LABS team, and also to guarantee your copy of our US report, be sure to join us next Thursday 8th September.

Performance measurement and network operatorsAn extra bonus for PIQ readers!

To make sure that you arrive at next week’s webinar fully up to speed, download our comprehensive Reference Guide To Game Performance Management – giving you all the essential GPM terms, best practices, and benchmarks in one short pdf.

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