We talk a lot about how live events can impact the Internet – the Super Bowl, NCAA March Madness, World Cup, and the Olympics immediately jump to mind. I am an avid follower of Netflix and how the impact of the release of a Netflix original series being binge-watched can affect broadband networks. The release of a new OS version from Microsoft and Apple also can make a major impact on networks. Something that we don’t see quite as often is when the release of a game (or a gaming console) can become a major factor in usage on networks.
Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon. Many people have grown up with Star Wars (I certainly did!) and the upcoming release of the new Star Wars movies has generated quite a bit of buzz. There have been some very successful Star Wars video games in the past, and with the re-launch of movies, the game pipeline is also filling up.
The first game to be released is Star Wars Battlefront, scheduled for release in November. However, EA Games allowed gamers to download and participate in the open beta of the game to stimulate interest starting last week.
And boy, are they interested!
Below is what happened on a European operator’s network. The graph below shows the traffic generated by downloading from the EA download manager (which is how the beta was downloaded). This traffic spiked at almost 30% of total traffic on the network on October 8th, representing as much traffic as streaming video services!
As shown above this is a big difference from the normal rate of just a few percentage points of total traffic. Another look would be to compare how this is versus Steam, which is a large scale gaming network – and you can see that EA trounces Steam during this period – whereas Steam normally has higher bandwidth utilization.
When I did my PS4 unboxing, I made an assertion that people are starting to bypass physical media and download games. This launch is further proof of that – even though the download clocks in at ~11GB – consumers would rather download the software on their broadband networks than purchase hard copies. This is also in spite of broadband caps that many consumers operate under – where an 11GB download might be 10% of their monthly cap. Gaming is a highly lucrative market, and many consumers view gaming as a major reason that they have broadband connectivity – whether that is mobile gaming, console, or PC gaming.
“Events” that can have significant impact are expanding – new series releases, new games, live sporting events, and OS updates are the current drivers of bandwidth spikes. Operators need visibility into these type of events so they can more quickly adapt and predict when events like this may cause traffic increases on their network – and if they will affect the quality of their subscriber’s broadband experience. Let Procera help you stay ahead of your subscribers – contact us!
"Cam is the Vice President of Global Marketing at Sandvine and responsible for Sandvine's overall global marketing. He is an avid follower of and the author of the Global Internet Phenomena report on network trends. He also loves football (the real kind played with a round ball) as well as an active blogger for Sandvine on a wide range of technology and business issues.
Areas of expertise: Internet trends, virtualization, analytics, network optimization, enterprise services