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Survey Claims Poor Broadband May Hamper New Game Consoles

Friday, October 30th, 2020 (9:39 am) - Score 1,992

A Censuswide survey of 2,005 UK gamers who use consoles or games online for at least 1 hour a week, which was commissioned by UK broadband ISP Zen Internet, has found that “poor internet performance” could impact the purchasing decisions of 39% who may be considering the new consoles (XBox Series X and PlayStation 5).

Both Microsoft and Sony are currently in the process of releasing the latest generation of video game consoles, but this is also likely to mean even bigger game downloads and larger software patches due to the ever increasingly levels of content involved. The previous generation of consoles had already seen some titles push into the 200GB+ (GigaByte) territory and we’ll inevitably see even bigger releases in the future.

NOTE: The Government and Ofcom define “superfast broadband” as 30Mbps, but at that speed a 200GB game download still takes 16 hours (or 29 mins if you’re lucky enough to be on a gigabit line).

The new survey confirms that big software updates remain a key cause of frustration, with 33% of gamers being found to spend nearly 2 days (39.5 hours) a year updating their consoles and 17% not being confident that their internet connection will be able to handle the new consoles.

Despite this, it’s noted that only 13% plan to upgrade their broadband package, even though just 23% of gamers described their internet link as “very reliable” while playing online.

Summary of Key Results

* 38% of frustrated gamers have shouted at their routers when gaming online, while 21% have stormed out of a room due to internet issues and 18% have called their ISP to complain.

* The new PS5 is the preferred choice for gamers (52%), ahead of the Xbox Series X and S (31%).

* 94% of gamers surveyed have downloaded a software update for a game.

* Only 22% prefer to game offline.

* Frustrations are being triggered by issues such as screen glitches/freezes caused by lag (43%), download times (36%) and internet cutting out at a crucial time (36%).

* 34% of gamers who download find the time it takes frustrating, with more than a quarter (27%) suggesting downloads are too slow. Meanwhile 23% said they have already been put off from downloading or updating games in the future due to the time it takes to do so (sadly you often can’t enjoy online games unless they’re kept updated).

Richard Tang, Founder and Chairman of Zen, said:

“The next generation machines are set to revolutionise the gaming landscape, with gamers eagerly awaiting access to the latest graphics and games. It is no longer the case though that gamers can simply stick in a disk and play, with a majority of games coming just three-quarters built and the rest delivered via a software update.

Gamers should not be waiting any longer than is necessary to get going, but too many players are having to due to slow or unreliable internet. In a world of spoilers, and game file sizes set to grow massively for the next generation consoles, gamers cannot be sat waiting even longer while their friends are already deep into the game.”

As you’d expect Zen has a vested interest in trying to sell consumers better broadband packages, although there are also a few other caveats to consider when looking at surveys like this. For example, some of the problems may not be caused by the broadband connection itself and could be the fault of slow WiFi or other issues with the local network. Poor performance by remote online servers can be another problem.

Equally the survey doesn’t appear to have assessed what kind of package respondents already have and whether or not faster services might have been available in their area (i.e. issues of consumer choice and awareness), although this is admittedly something that’s quite tricky to do without a lot of manual processing and greater use of personal data (home addresses etc.).

A quick look at the latest data from Thinkbroadband reveals that “superfast” (30Mbps+) capable services now cover 96.5% of UK premises, which falls to 63.27% for “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) and 27.52% for “gigabit” (1Gbps or 1000Mbps+) class lines. Cable and fibre operator Virgin Media is responsible for most of the last two, while FTTP providers cover 17.49% of premises.

The Government are of course in the process of investing £5bn to help extend the reach of gigabit-capable broadband services, although it’s no longer clear how long it will take to reach nearly universal coverage with that (this will probably still end up excluding the final 0.5% to 1% of remote rural premises due to cost).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
28 Responses
  1. James™ says:

    With the current generation PS4 caps out at around 350-400mbps on the download, I think with the new generation coming out using SSDs will be able to harness faster download as they won’t be bottlenecked by old mechanical hard drive.

    I should mention I have M500 from Virgin Media and get about 550mbps most of the time. My Steam downloads over 500 most of the time.

  2. Mark says:

    I’ve been streaming all games via GFN for the last couple of years and now Stadia for the last 11 month, game sizes do not worry me in the slightest.

    1. Herve Shango says:


    2. Tom says:

      Why would you jump from Geforce Now to Stadia?

      Also, those services don’t meet the bar for competitive gaming.

  3. JitteryPinger says:

    I think most issues with gaming on Xbox for me was the servers where content downloaded from, I had a gigabit connection that would test up to 890mbps on my Xbox one but no download would ever get past 170mbps, with most being substantially lower than that.

    These updates are chaotic to there own servers and the internet and the reality is that a better way for updates to roll out is crucial…. having one big 60-120GB update being release in one bundle on one day is starting to get stupid.

    releasing these updates in parts needs to be considered and some form of bring it up into smaller to handles parts and also multiple locations from which it is streamed to avoid saturating a path on the internet.

    1. Peter says:

      There is a comment above from James talking about hardware limitations

    2. JitteryPinger says:

      Hardware limitations weren’t the issue, I tested the capabilities of the xbox.

    3. darren mccoy says:

      I’m the same. My Xbox one X varies wildly from 30-180mbps (wired connection), I was always told the Xbox live network was better than PlayStation’s but I usually get around 300mbps on PS4.

  4. Brian says:

    When I was given a PS4 i frequently had updates that would take over 4 days due to only having access to a slow ADSL link. The use of 4G has got then now down to a more reasonable duration.

  5. Tim I says:

    I think part of the issue here, is a lot of people would love to have quicker internet, but physically can’t – once you’ve got 80Mbps FTTC, and there is no FTTP or Cable option available in your area, there is nothing you can do really to get more (at a sensible price).

    1. Jude says:

      Can confirm I’ve got fttc which gets around 66mbps with no other options. I only had to wait like 4 hours to download red dead redemption 2 on pc which was 120gb.

    2. Pezza says:

      Yeap, I’m getting around 70MBPS but I doubt I’ll ever get more. I’ll wait for 5G to eventually come to my area and then move to that.

    3. Mike says:

      4G with an external high mounted antenna can usually exceed FTTC quite well, especially with the upload speed.

    4. Jude says:

      @mike EE is the best in my area and its only like 90mbps down and 13mbps up. Using that as my main Internet would be much more I expect. Also pings are over 30ms compared to 8ms on my fttc to the same server in London.

  6. Buggerlugz says:

    I think the lack of NEW games for the next generation will be of more of a decision maker than broadband speed. Look at the Xbox one as an example, I’d say since its release we’ve had maybe 10 AAA titles that are worthy of the console. Backward compatibility to make up the game catalogue is of no interest to new console buyers.

    1. Judd says:

      Some of the one x games with 4k options now hold the target framerate using the new console whereas before they would drop below 30 a lot of the time. Also games with 60fps options easily hold it while on the one x they would drop to the 40s because the cpu couldn’t keep up.

  7. Oggy says:

    In other news, bears poop in the woods.

  8. Boxit says:

    Where the front or the back of the tree.

  9. A_Builder says:

    “superfast broadband” as 30Mbps, but at that speed a 200GB game download still takes 16 hours (or 29 mins if you’re lucky enough to be on a gigabit line).

    Worth thinking about in an age of instant gratification for some 30 mins is too long to wait.

    1G may be all most FTTP is set up to do now but 10G+ is just a short hop away from that. A lot of the Alt nets will offer 10G business tiers on request already.

    Whilst servers won’t keep up ATM, and I don’t think most home computers will swallow 10G even with an SSD in them, things always improve.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      “SUPERFAST” rears its ugly head again. I Don’t think having to wait 16 hours for a game update on a superfast connection is exactly superfast is it?

      I recently had a 2 day wait updating modern warfare so I share the pain.

    2. Spurple says:

      You can get a 1TB nvme drive capable of writing 2GB/s for £150. New consoles being SSD based may help to drive costs down by contributing scale.

      Not long before £500 laptops can handle 10gbe. The real question is if there will be killer apps that drive demand.

  10. Brian Storey says:

    “* 38% of frustrated gamers have shouted at their routers when gaming online, ”

    Perhaps the issue here is traffic prioritisation rather than speed?

    1. JitteryPinger says:


  11. 30mbps is not superfast says:

    There are 6 people living in my home and at 30mbps, we can’t do anything in the house, not watch a 4k movie or download a game update within the same day. And when our cousin’s come over( which is all the time) the router just freezes cuz it can’t handle anything. I really want gigabit fibre so I can at least enjoy playing games.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Absolutely! “30mbps is not superfast.” It isn’t. Its neigh on useless in 2020.

    2. Spurple says:

      You can do a lot with 30mbps. Get a better router that implements a fair QoS governor, or work out how to configure yours.

    3. Jude says:

      My household of 6 has a 66mbps line from bt and we have 1 4k TV going all evening while probably 2 other 1080 video streams going, me streaming music etc. I game a lot on it so am downloading a lot of very large files. Doesn’t skip a beat at all. Am just using a smart hub 2 + 2 WiFi discs. You don’t need gigabit for your usage you’d probably do just fine on 100

  12. Buggerlugz says:

    “Superfast” really needs to be 100Mbps in 2020 IMHO.

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