Edgegap Learner Series : What is latency in gaming?

Edgegap Learner Series

Developing a game is not easy, and at Edgegap we understand that better than anyone! We have created the Edgegap Learner Series to help new game developers grasp all the key concepts of DevOps, hosting and technical aspects of making a multi-player game. Where Edgegap fits in the development process and using/managing game infrastructure will be at the core of this educational series.

What is latency in gaming?

As mobile and online games continue their skyrocketing growth, with more people than ever online playing multiplayer games, game publishers are struggling with a hot-button issue known as game lag.

Game lag occurs when there is a delay between players’ actions and the response of the game. Lag is very frustrating, but not only for the player enduring it; lag also causes a cascading impact on the quality of experience of all other players. Players often point to lag as the reason for the game to freeze, stutter or even crash.

Lag is one of the main reasons behind game abandonment and community churn—as well as a less-than-stellar bottom line for a game publisher.

But what is lag generally caused by? There are several factors that can contribute to lag, such as poor server processing power, inadequate bandwidth, low Internet connection speeds and packet loss.

What causes latency?

Latency is the amount of time it takes for game data to travel from one point to another. It is dependent on the physical distance the data must cross through networks, routers and cables to reach its destination. Server latency, in particular, is when a request leaves the gamer’s hardware, travels to the servers, and gets a reply. Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms).

In the world of gaming, ping refers to network latency between a player’s console and either another player’s computer (peer) or the game’s server. Low ping amounts below 50ms are considered excellent and contribute to low latency (and therefore less lag). On the flip side, high pings of 100ms or more inevitably lead to higher latency (and more lag), which wreaks havoc on gameplay. This is especially true for fast-paced games, such as first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, racing games or all other types of multiplayer games. 

How can latency be reduced in games?

Geographical location plays a huge role in gaming latency issues. The distance between players and the game’s server can mean the difference between high or low latency. For example, it will take more time for data to travel between players in the United States who are attempting to connect to a game server in Japan than if the game server was in their own country. The farther the distance, the higher the latency (or ping).

There are only two ways to improve network latency. Either a game publisher sets up dedicated core network parallel to the internet—which is unrealistic and costly—or expands its network to move payloads closer to players.

And that’s where Edgegap comes in, by bringing servers as close as possible to users to slash latency levels. This allows a game publisher to scale as the game grows in popularity worldwide. In one recent use case, Edgegap’s hosting platform, with over 350 server locations around the globe, reduced latency for a game publisher from 74ms to 29ms, which gave players a much better, nearly lag-free experience.

Interested in learning more about how Edgegap can reduce your game’s latency and banish the lag? Contact us today.

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