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44% of UK Online Multiplayer Gamers Still Complain About Lag

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 (2:21 pm) - Score 4,885
Madrid, Spain – August 15, 2018: Teenager playing Fortnite video game on PC. He is raising his fist in a victory gesture

A new survey of 1,000 UK video gamers, which was commissioned by full fibre broadband ISP Hyperoptic, has found that 44% of adult respondents named “the internet lagging” as the most infuriating aspect of online gaming, while 27% also complained about other players’ slow online speeds.

The survey revealed that respondents are now spending an average of 10.5 hours online gaming a week (up from 8 hours pre-lockdown) and more than half said the hobby has kept them entertained during this time (we assume the other half must have been either losing or playing a really boring game, since they aren’t mentioned). Meanwhile 43% said they found playing online had helped them to stay connected with others.

NOTE: The survey was conducted for Hyperoptic online by OnePoll.

Naturally Hyperoptic have a vested interest here since they’re selling access to a gigabit-capable broadband network, which will no doubt benefit from fast latency times and excellent speeds.

Charles Davies, MD of Hyperoptic, said:

“It’s clear from the research just how passionate and dedicated gamers are to their hobby, reflected by the time and money spent on it. Online gaming is a popular way of staying connected to others and conversing while playing at the same time.

More than half of the gamers polled said decent Wi-Fi is important to them due to the amount of time they spend online gaming and we feel life is too short for lagging when playing. This is why full fibre connectivity is so important for gamers who want to get the most out of their play without interruptions.”

As usual we have to caveat that, as wonderful as a full fibre connection is, it is not essential for a smooth online gaming experience. Most digital connections since the ISDN era have been able to return fairly fast latency times (fast ping) and the vast majority of existing broadband connections are more than capable. Multiplayer gaming itself is actually a very low bandwidth service.

On the other hand modern games do tend to be increasingly large in size and there’s nothing more annoying than logging in to find yet another 2-10GB patch awaiting to be downloaded before you can play. In that sense the faster you can download such updates, the better, but this won’t have much of an impact on the game itself.

Lest we forget that there are other factors to consider here too, such as the capability of the router you’re using (WiFi performance etc.), as well as the server for the game you’re connecting to (many ping issues can also be caused by the server or other users on that server), the desire for your ISP to adopt optimal routing / peering arrangements and the need for an uncongested network etc.

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52 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT says:

    Of course they do. You could plug some gamers’ brains directly into the server and they’d still complain about the latency.

    1. Avatar Adam says:

      He’s a hacker!

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      It’s always the fault of lag when somebody else shoots you in the face first, before doing some kind of curious squatting action on your corpse. Fact 🙂 .

    3. Avatar Neb says:

      I remember the days when having the dial up over dsl was an advantage… on Day of Defeat anyway.

  2. Avatar CarlT says:

    From West Yorkshire to the BBC in London and back:

    http://www.bbc.net.uk ping statistics —
    10 packets transmitted, 10 received, 0% packet loss, time 9015ms
    rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 7.325/7.417/7.548/0.102 ms

    How could I play a competitive game with this? This on top of my ~215 ms reaction time would make it impossible.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      Sadly my brain’s latency, in the order of several minutes, makes that game prohibitive.

    2. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      @CarlT, but your FTTP isn’t representative, here’s mine

      10 packets transmitted, 10 received, 0% packet loss, time 9013ms
      rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 19.884/37.329/111.628/28.858 ms

      I don’t do so well with online games, which is a shame given my day job.

    3. Avatar Spurple says:

      Cant compare simple ICMP which probably never leaves kernel space on most equipment with the udp payload typical of online games. Game play traffic is susceptible to random drops that are used in network management or simply by hardware to cope with temporary queue overruns. Out of order delivery can also be keenly felt.

      And it’s got little to do with your reaction time. Dropped packets can manifest as inaccurate aim, or for timing based input (football shot power), weaker input than intended because the full magnitude measured by button press duration isn’t seen by the server or peer since for instance, the packet bearing the final value was lost or delayed, and the deadline for performing and animating the command was passed.

      Just because your reaction times are one order of magnitude higher doesn’t mean the impact of latency wont affect you.

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      I have my doubts you know how carrier network equipment works if you think ICMP echoes get any kind of priority or go anywhere near kernel. If we’re talking Linux congestion will result in it waiting with everything else as tc schedules everything, including ICMP.

      If netcode is bad that’s not really the network’s problem but application.

      Irony seems to have been lost too. I was mocking the fixation with latency.

      I’m quite aware of the effects of out of order, loss, jitter, etc. I have spent the past decade working with technology intended to mitigate its effects across global networks.

  3. Avatar joe says:

    “Lest we forget that there are other factors to consider here too, such as the capability of the router you’re using (WiFi performance etc.)”

    No ‘gamer’ is using wifi. There called noobz 🙂

    1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      Very true, a proper game would be using CAT5.

    2. Avatar Marek says:

      Most gamers are using wifi, whetever they are noobs or not because most flats, houses don’t have ethernet cabling to different and rooms.

    3. Avatar joe says:

      cat5 is cheap and no serious player is using wifi thats for amateurs

    4. Avatar Marek says:

      Are you dumb or an idiot?? Do you think most houses have at least one line of cat5? Bedroom fortnite players aren’t serious and most people don’t really have ethernet cables, that’s why mesh is so popular

    5. Avatar Laughing Atyou says:

      They’re*

    6. Avatar mike says:

      Can you even buy CAT5? And if you can, why would you? Most cables are CAT5e or better.

    7. Avatar spurple says:

      you can buy cat 5e, it’s cheap, and with the latest ethernet specs is good for 10gbps at lengths less than 100 metres.

      If you were buying, it’s better to buy higher rated cable of course.

      many property developers are running CAT 5e in places where they would normally run whatever telephone wires are called, for linking the landline phone between rooms. Recently build properties might have this.

      @Marek, not sure why you’re being so obnoxious with the OP. If your gaming console is in the living room, near the modem/access point, it is easy enough to buy a 2-metre ethernet cable and plug the console into a spare LAN port. A good number of people have this capability and are simply unaware that this is a possibility.

      Before the lockdown, i had an interesting conversation with a chap at my local Argos while collecting an 8-port gigabit switch. He understood from the packaging it had something to do with networking but didn’t quite know what it was. I explained to him and suggested he check on youtube for some tutorials. There’s a chance that person has gone ahead and learned and is probably now a happy user of ethernet where possible.

    8. Avatar CarlT says:

      Cat5e is not rated for 10G over up to 100 metres. You need Cat6a to be assured of that.

  4. Avatar JamesW says:

    I was playing COD MW the other day and it was bouncing around like a rabbit on LSD.

    But then 2 days later I’m getting over 100 kills on shipment.

    On both times my latency is around 30ms

  5. Avatar Packet Switched says:

    Low latency, quick response ie what you want for trading as well as well as gaming.
    Any farmer shifting crops which he’s grown, livestock he’s reared or hedging against the weather is effectively trading interfacing
    with the commodity markets. Entertainment sure but relates to the local economy in the deep countryside as well.

  6. Avatar Dave Scott says:

    That’s because you have rubbish FTTC VDSL2. It’s not very reliable. Openreach wasted money on FTTC they should of Kept as all on ADSL2+ then saved up all that money then ruled out FTTP. I think FTTC is a waste of money.

  7. Avatar Back to your xbox son says:

    If they had 2ms ping they’d still be screaming laaaag everytime they get headshot’d.

  8. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Is it unreasonable to expect that a press release with a quote supposedly from the MD of an ISP would have been checked to ensure that it was technically sensible before being issued?

    As Mark points out in his commentary within the story, an FTTP connection is not immune to latency problems, high bandwidth does not automatically mean that you have low ping, jitter etc. And as others have pointed out, use of wi-fi would of course cause further degradation to the connection compared to a wired connection.

    Please do better than this ISPs, especially when putting out research about a specific group such as gamers. Don’t assume that your customers are clueless idiots!

    1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      It could be worse. You read Three’s 5g ultra brilliant the only way to play “Modern Warfare” press releases?…… 🙂

  9. Avatar Dave Scott says:

    That’s because FTTC VDSL2 is a completely a waste of money. They should of kept us all on ADSL2+ and then saved up all that up and then ruled out FTTP.

  10. Avatar Mat says:

    That’s because FTTC VDSL2 is a completely a waste of money. They should of kept us all on ADSL2+ and then saved up all that up and then ruled out FTTP.

  11. Avatar tim says:

    66% are using wifi. lol

    1. Avatar Adam L. says:

      Ah, Yes! The elusive 110%

  12. Avatar Mark says:

    What’s not even being mentioned here which I find is more frustrating is certain online twitch shooters have lag compensation built in which actively penalizes players with low stable pings by artificially adding lag to even out the ping to the server. The worst offender I’ve encountered recently is gears 5 where they deployed a kill cam only for me to watch a full point blank with my shotgun land and not get a single hit marker for it.

    Also the fact that some MP games still in 2020 use peer to peer connections which is a whole other ball game of online nonsense (I’m looking at you destiny).

    1. Avatar Spurple says:

      Latency padding is necessary. The games have to operate at a tick rate that allows events to be transmitted to the other players and rendered so that they everyone has a Mostly similar state. If your latency is 15ms and your opponent is at 30ms, and you kick a ball, say, your device will action and render the the animation before the peer has received the event. What happens if from the peer’s perspective, they had won the ball before you kicked it?

      This is a mismatch in state that cant be fixed with a “rewind button”. So, the game has to adjust itself to a latency level that is just above the worst, but under a threshold that they decide isn’t worth trying for. The person with a lower latency connection is still at an advantage, since their events will always be more timely, and less likely to miss deadlines.

      This is all just my imagination, per my experience of online gaming and understanding of software and networks.

    2. Avatar Mark says:

      I get what your saying and in theory that’s how it’s supposed to work but in reality IMO it often adds a whole new set of problems.

      From memory gears of war 4 servers had a tick rate of 30 which caused all kinds of additional problems with updates in 1 v 1, getting shot and killed round corners and countless other issues.

  13. Avatar JmJohnson says:

    I still don’t believe the numbers.
    A kids Xbox or something will generally use wifi.
    Almost every mature gamer I know uses an ethernet cable.
    Also, lag generally isn’t an issue when it’s sub 150ms for the game concerned.
    The issue is jitter and dropped packets when UDP is used (almost all games now).
    Most games adapt to the users latency and then use it for collision detection etc.
    When jitter kicks in the UDP packet is either dropped by the server or messes with the collision in game.

    1. Avatar Gary says:

      150ms ping no thanks, that really is a dead before you see them scenario, thats basically doubling the reaction time of a decent human Gamer in the twitch response. Depends what you play i guess.

      I’d hazard a high percentage of ‘Hacker’ moans in FPS are a combo of poor personal reflex times and latency.

    2. Avatar Mark says:

      Anything over 50ms and I start to notice problems with shooters. 120 is an absolute nightmare in any twitch type game but ok for RTS and such.

    3. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      I’m obviously not a mature gamer then. :/

  14. Avatar america > europe says:

    sub 150 ms lmao. Sick standards!! America sucks right?

  15. Avatar Gary says:

    Not really happy with this bit of the editorial Mark “Naturally Hyperoptic have a vested interest here since they’re selling access to a gigabit-capable broadband network, which will no doubt benefit from fast latency times and excellent speeds.”

    To be honest there’s been this obsession with headline speeds by IPSs for years as thats what most ‘normal’ people think means better, As you do say in the article games arent that heavy on data transfer, it really doesn’t matter if have a 100Gb connection if the routing through the network to the servers and back is poor, latency jitter excessive hops to reach given servers.. I suppose most people don’t notice.

    I’d take a stable low ping low hop low jitter service on a lower max speed any day of the week over a rarely necessary or practically beneficial fantasy headline throughput .

    People are always pointing fingers at wifi but it doesn’t have to be that way, decent router choices and a little attention to settings can make a huge difference to the usability of wifi for gaming. Throw your little sister off the 5g connection and apply some QOS rules and not only can she play bibble bobble farm to her hearts content on 2.4, but you have guaranteed bandwidth on 5Ghz 🙂

  16. Avatar Gary says:

    Try this for fun, cant comment on its accuracy mind you, https://humanbenchmark.com/dashboard/reactiontime

    1. Avatar buggerlugz says:

      Averaged 203ms. Which is better than my ISP most of the time! YAY! do I get a prize?

    2. Avatar Gary says:

      Buggerlugz, nah no prize, but beat my sorry old eyes by 30ms or so, I blame my laggy 4g wifi connection tho 🙂

    3. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      I’m on Three’s 4g so that’s no excuse!

    4. Avatar spurple says:

      this little test already demonstrates how little things can compound.

      For example, if your desktop display is running at 60hz, you can easily add 16ms of latency to your score, as the time it takes for the colour to actually change from Red to Green. I haven’t inspected their code, but they probably have not measured the display refresh rate to compensate for this.

      Next, the input device you’re using matters. For a mouse with a click-switch, your results will be a few minutes faster than a trigger-style input device or a touch-screen device, simply by how much physical distance needs to be traversed in order to send the click event.

      Finally, your device load will also affect the eventual score.

      If you doubt this, first run a test on your phone,and then use a desktop/laptop with a physical mouse attached, and then if you have the equipment, use a high refresh rate display on a hardware-accelerated browser/OS device.

    5. Avatar spurple says:

      in my post above, i obviously meant “milliseconds” and not minutes. 🙂

    6. Avatar Roger_Gooner says:

      My reactions are so slow that I read “minutes” and didn’t consider it unrealistic.

  17. Avatar Pezza says:

    I don’t blame the lag when I get shot first, I blame my older age and less sharp reflexes, but that means also I have the money and means to pay for reduced lag haha.. still doesn’t help though. Looking forward to the next gen consoles and hoping they had WiFi 6 on them.

    1. Avatar Gary says:

      50/50 for me, Sometimes its ‘No freaking way man’ others it’s just a sad old guy sighing in a dark room wondering where his youth went. 🙂

  18. Avatar Michael says:

    I play Fortnite competitive I know a “kids game” and made a good amount of money last year. Ping is so important but on my FTTC BT connection 73Mbps 18Mbps I’m seeing a lot more lag than normal and lots of packet loss from the in game stats with everyone being at home etc. Can’t wait to get on FTTH it and when it becomes available.

    1. Avatar Pezza says:

      Yeah but don’t forget a lot of services have still been reduce so far as I know, streaming, Sony’s PlayStation network etc, plus I’d imagine all providers are prioritising work related traffic and VPNs over all other traffic currently.
      Tried Fortnite and can’t get into it, think it’s all the building etc. Still it’s a simple premise like PUBG with last man standing, and I don’t think anyone’s done it as well as those two.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Providers are not and may not prioritise ‘work related traffic and VPNs’ over other traffic in the UK.

    3. Avatar SymetricalAccess says:

      Michael, it’s your ISP that’s the problem not FTTC. On BT gaming is terrible whenever anyone else is using the connection especially when streaming video. Check their forums and you’ll see a lot of posts about it. People have moved to a diffetrent ISP still on FTTC and the lag has gone.

      It’s like being back on ADSL taking it in turns to use the connection when someone want’s to game.

  19. Avatar Nik says:

    i have an fttc 40/8 connection with Sky 10ms ping to London. I recently bought a Netgear XR500 router (using with an HG612 modem) and set it up with QOS which pretty much eliminated bufferbloat in my busy house (Netflix, 3 laptops, a pc and 2 xboxes plus Sky, phones and tablets, tv’s etc). Made a big difference in online games that have good netcode. Unfortunately I play Apex Legends which favours the shooter no matter what the ping and out of region players are destroying the game. My point is Full fibre won’t help this no matter what, QOS and local players on local servers will. Until games companies stop babysitting bad connections with unfair lag compensation we will always get bad experiences online.

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