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Network Performance and Gamer Experience – Part One: The UK

GameBench Staff

PIQ 22.04

Next Wednesday 22nd June at 17.00 GMT / 12.00 EST / 09.00 PST – we launch a short series of free-to-attend GameBench webinars, showcasing our analyses of the game performance of major network providers in three key global territories: the UK, Germany, and South Korea. Attendees of each event will receive a bonus: a dedicated LABS report detailing the performances of the key competitors we’ve selected for comparison. In advance of this inaugural event, focused on the critical UK market, we summarise below some of GameBench’s key findings.

Making sense of the metaverseA snapshot of the market

The United Kingdom is the leading video game market in Europe, and the sixth-largest gaming market worldwide. A recent BBC report valued it, in 2021, at £7.16bn, of which console sales brought in £1.13bn, and mobile games £1.46bn.

Globally, networks have moved to the heart of the gamer experience. While cloud gaming’s immense potential is still unfolding, hugely popular online multiplayer games 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 three leading ISPs – BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk – are of particular and immediate relevance to today’s and tomorrow’s gamer experience in this important market. And if we need further evidence of how central performance is to the market, we should note that today, over 50% of the UK population is currently gaming.

Network ExpectationsSummary of ISP latency scores

For this initial testing programme, we selected the popular game Destiny 2, on the Stadia cloud gaming platform. Gameplay was conducted on two separate days, with eight of our LABS team each conducting multiple 15-30 minute sessions.

top game complaints

As we can see from the above chart, TalkTalk’s and Virgin Media’s latency scores came in more or less neck and neck, with BT apparently lagging slightly. We would, of course, need a far larger sample set to confirm these initial results. A nuanced but important additional point is that the closeness of results between Virgin Media and TalkTalk – i.e. less difference between the 10th and 90th percentiles – also suggests consistency of latency, a key metric for assessing potential game performance. An immediate observation here – and we’ll be digging into this during next week’s webinar – is that broadband speed alone is no longer an adequate indicator of the quality of gamer experience. While this is a highly complex area, even for the most advanced network engineering teams, 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 key 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 get your copy of our UK report, be sure to join us next Wednesday 22nd June.

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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