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Cloud gaming depends on low latency

Gamescom, one of the biggest computer games trade fairs in the world, will take place virtually next week. Following the recent launches of Google Stadia, Nvidia's GeForce Now, and MagentaGaming from Telecom, cloud gaming will once again be one of the key topics.

The growing interest in cloud gaming also is reflected in the traffic at our Internet Exchanges, especially during the past few months. At peak times of the national lockdown in Germany, DE-CIX in Frankfurt recorded an increase in the use of cloud and gaming services of more than 50%.

Every millisecond counts

When content is called up in a web browser or app, ideally it should appear directly and without a delay. It is irritating for users if there is a significant delay between the user interaction and the presentation of the content: Even a 2-second delay in the loading time of a website is sufficient to increase the bounce rate more than 100%. Given the increasingly realistic looking graphics that current games boast, it is clear that enormous amounts of data have to be transported from the server to the user. To ensure a great gaming experience, every millisecond counts.

Quality of cloud gaming experience depends on latency and bandwidth

A normal HD stream requires about 3 to 5 Mbps. If it is a stream in 4K resolution, the bandwidth requirement increases additionally. When gaming takes place 100% in the cloud, it is essential that latency is kept to a minimum to ensure the best possible gaming experience.

A gamer in Germany playing a game hosted on a server in the US has to deal with lags – i.e. jerks in the game as the transmission of data packets between Germany and the US takes about 60 milliseconds. This might not sound like much, but in online or cloud gaming this time difference is very noticeable.

Get closer to the users

To fix the issue with latency, cloud gaming providers have to select their servers and Internet Exchanges through which the game data is transported in such a way that they are closer to the gamers, meaning that the data path between the user and the server is significantly shortened. This can lead to choosing servers located in the same country or even in the same city as the users.

Through such infrastructure measures and adjustments to interconnection strategies, gamers – no matter where they are on the planet – can be guaranteed an excellent cloud gaming experience.