Bandwidth and the Rise of Online Gaming


By: Chris Lee

UK ISP Plusnet hosted a gaming week on their site last week, which included posts about numerous aspects of the industry, twitter takeovers from Team 17 and Futurlab, and a gaming tournament between Plusnet and the public. One of their posts looked into bandwidth implications of online gaming through a funky infographic and graphs analysing the data from their servers.

I found the results surprising. Only a relatively small 2% of Plusnet’s network bandwidth is devoted to playing games. This is in comparison to ~50% for streaming for streaming services. It makes sense when you think about it though – stability of connection is more important than speed when playing online.

Why is that surprising?

According to a TED article about video games, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games as a species. That’s more than half a billion people playing at least an hour a day: a colossal statistic however you look at it. Another statistic suggests that the average young person will have played 10,000 hours of games by their 21st birthday: more time than they’d have spent in school. Video games are a huge industry, so much so that design companies are being offered tax breaks in the UK to encourage them to spend their hefty production budgets within the country. GTA5 made a billion dollars within 72 hours of its release.

All of these gargantuan statistics make me think that gaming would account for more than 2% of Plusnet’s bandwidth. But I guess this just shows how enormously popular all the other aspects of the internet are, too!

Bandwidth and gaming habits

By analysing data from their servers, Plusnet found that around 250mbps of demand are put on the servers during working hours, which climbs steadily to a peak of just below 750mbps at 10pm. This makes sense – people switch on their consoles to relax after a long day at work / school / etc. It also probably won’t come as a surprise that Friday and Saturday show the highest amount of gaming bandwidth, with Saturday showing the longest prolonged period. I was surprised to see Tuesday as another peak day, though. Full analysis of the data (with graphs and all sorts!) can be seen on the Plusnet blog:

The infographic:



One thought on “Bandwidth and the Rise of Online Gaming

  1. Pingback: IO Computer – Video Projectors » D-Link 16-Port Fast Ethernet Switch (DSS-16+)

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