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Plusnet Reports Grand Theft Auto IV Broadband Usage Spike

Posted: 12th May, 2008 By: MarkJ
UK ISP Plusnet (BT) has reported that the day after Grand Theft Auto IV's release saw two of the busiest ever hours for online gaming (multiplayer). The results are hardly surprising; with initial reports suggesting that the game sold nearly 1m copies within the first week!

Microsoft's XBox 360 console uses a somewhat questionable P2P method to manage multiplayer, which is more prone to latency (lag) and connectivity problems than server-client methods. This can also play havoc with the Traffic Management systems used by some ISPs, though Plusnet wisely made sure that GTA4 was identified prior to release:

Grand Theft Auto IV was released on 29th April, looking at our reports, gaming traffic on the 29th was roughly in line with the previous Tuesday; there was no noticeable increase in traffic. This may well be because a lot of people bought it online and didn’t receive it until the following day or those that did get it decided to play it offline rather than online that first evening.

The early hours of Wednesday [30th] morning (4am to 7am) saw an increase in gaming traffic of between 15% and 35% compared with the Wednesday before. Wednesday morning saw the biggest increase in usage with up to 65% more gaming traffic per hour than the previous week. Usage during the rest of the day saw an increase of around 30 to 40%.

Comparing that instead to Tuesday and usage across most of Wednesday was up to 50% higher.

The busiest hour for gaming was 8pm to 9pm on 30th April, followed closely by 9pm to 10pm. In fact the 8 to 9pm hour was actually the busiest hour for gaming in the past 6 months (and 9 to 10pm the second busiest) in terms of usage and very probably the busiest hour we’ve ever seen for gaming. The previous highest hour was 9 to 10pm on 4th November 2007, 8 to 9pm on 30th April beat that by almost 30%.

To add a bit more perspective, gaming accounted for approximately 7.6% of all downloads between 8pm to 9pm on 30th April, we’d normally expect to see between 3.5% and 5% be gaming around that time of day. (It was about 7.1% for 9 to 10pm).

PlusNet reports that up to 90,000 of its customers were tagged as gaming on Wednesday, which is a relatively normal number. The ISP notes that this figure will include all gaming traffic as well as small amounts of background noise, such as pings and port scans, which can also be detected as gaming. The full report can be found on Plusnet’s Community Site.
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