What Is Latency?

Latency in online gaming

In 2012, malfunctioning toilets caused a two-day delay on a flight from San Francisco to Shanghai. The flight was diverted to Anchorage, Alaska where a replacement plane was also discovered to be faulty. The passengers left a day later on a third plane that, thankfully, was fully functional.

In 2015, a plane was unable to taxi on the runway for nearly five hours. The reason? Bees had attached themselves underneath the cabin of the aircraft, making it impossible for baggage handlers to load the jet until beekeepers arrived.

In 2018, a frustrated passenger who had been sitting for hours on a runway at the Malaga airport in Spain was seen frantically trying to break a window to escape from the plane. The video of this man quickly went viral and elicited sympathy from fellow travelers around the world.1

While the airline industry is infamous for being behind schedule, no one likes delays of any type. And that also goes for internet connections, especially when it comes to online gaming. When this happens . . . the frustration is real.

A look at online gaming.

With over two billion online gamers worldwide and growing, online gaming is more than just a hobby, it has become big business. Each year, millions of dollars are spent on online games and online gaming equipment. While the Asia Pacific region is recognized as the heart of online gaming, nearly two thirds of the U.S. population participates in some form of internet gaming, as well.2

Think about that – these numbers show that online gaming is not just for teengagers anymore and offers entertainment and competition for young and old alike. Let’s take a closer look at some interesting facts.

The most popular online games.
Minecraft and Roblox are the two most downloaded games - each featuring a virtual world that allows gamers to build and explore new dimensions. Fortnite, a multiplayer combat game, comes in at number three.3 Mario Kart, a racing game, and Call of Duty, another multiplayer combat game, round out the top five.

Professional gaming championships.
Professional gaming, or “eSports,” consist of a series of video game tournaments and championship matches that take place around the world each year. For example, the Call of Duty World Championships were held at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio and featured 32 teams battling it out for $1.5 million in prize money. Over 20,000 screaming online gaming enthusiasts watched as the “Evil Geniuses” took victory while playing Call of Duty: WWII.4

Online gaming revenue.
In 2017, Americans spent over $36 billion on video games and that number is steadily rising. These statistics showed a 54 percent increase from the previous year and are projected to double by 2021.5

Online gamer profile.
The average male gamer in the U.S. is 32 and the average female gamer is 36. Here’s another fun fact: more than half of all U.S. parents say they enjoy online gaming as much as their children!6 Nearly half of all online gamers are female and nearly 30 percent of online gamers are 50 or older.

Most expensive video game to create.
Grand Theft Auto V which was released in 2013, cost approximately $137 million to build and $128 million to promote. The venture was wildly profitable however, as Rockstar North, the game developer, earned $1 billion in the initial three days after the game’s introduction.

How online gamers play.
While the majority of online gaming takes place on gaming consoles like Sony Xbox or Nintendo Switch, many online gamers use their laptops, iPhones, iPads or Android devices for online gaming. In fact, nearly 70 percent of smartphone and tablet users play online games.7

The number one frustration of online gamers.
What frustrates online gamers most? When asked this question, the vast majority answered with two words “high latency.”8 What is the term “latency” and how does it affect online gaming?

Understanding latency.

Latency is the amount of time it takes for a signal to be transmitted (or “pinged”) to its intended recipient and return round trip to its point of origin. Low latency, or “lag” time, in your home internet network connection or WiFi connection is critical for online gaming. Low latency means this round trip time is minimal and takes just milliseconds. Why is this important? Think of it this way: if you’re playing online baseball against a competitor, do you really want there to be a delay or lag when you swing at a pitch. That delay could mean strike three!

When you have a high speed internet connection and WiFi connection with a high bandwidth, you should have low latency and your user experience should feel like you are playing your online games in virtually real time. High latency would mean that this round trip signal transmission takes longer than milliseconds and you experience noticeable delays in your online gaming play.

Note that latency can also affect much more than just online gaming. Higher latency times can affect download speeds on your laptop or when you are trying to download or stream a video on YouTube or Netflix based on the amount of data packets you are processing. Your latency connection and network latency can also cause slower web page downloads and affect how other data packets are downloaded and transmitted. Sometimes this can even cause the data to not be received and this is known as “packet loss.”

If you are experiencing high latency in your online gaming user experience or slower than normal web page load times, there are things you can do to get back to a real world user experience with your internet speed.

How to detect and fix latency issues.

Latency can be frustrating but it is fixable. If you are experiencing noticeable delays in your internet connection, you can start by checking the easiest possible solution: the physical connections of your WiFi network, internet router and other key connections and elements of your internet network.

If that does not fix the problem, run an internet speed test. You can find internet speed tests free of charge online and through smartphone and tablet apps. Running a speed test on your internet network connection and WiFi connection can tell you if there is a high latency or other challenges.

Also note that satellite internet connections are slower than wired internet connections because of the way they receive internet and data signals. This is because a satellite internet signal is transmitted through the air which is open to interference, while a wired internet connection is enclosed and typically more protected from outside signal interference. If you can find an internet provider (ISP) that offers an internet network connection that uses fiber optic cable paired with a content delivery network (CDN), this will help to ensure you will always receive maximum data speed with minimal interference and improve your quality of service.

Of course, if you are still experiencing problems after conducting your own internet network connection investigation, contact your internet service provider (ISP) for assistance.

Get in the game with Suddenlink

Get in the game with Suddenlink.

You always want the most from your internet investment, and with Suddenlink that’s exactly what you’ll get. Whether you use your internet connection for online gaming, streaming audio or video, navigating web pages and more, Suddenlink can help you get more enjoyment from the things you love most.

Suddenlink offers internet speeds from 400 Mbps (megabits per second) to 1 Gbps (gigabits per second) and this allows you to select the internet speed and internet network connection that works best for your needs.

So get and stay in the game with low latency and high performance made possible by one of America’s leading internet providers – Suddenlink keeps you well connected!

1 https://news.resolver.co.uk/the-worlds-most-delayed-flight-and-other-bizarre-stories/

2 https://www.statista.com/statistics/748044/number-video-gamers-world/

3 https://www.thetoptens.com/best-online-games/

4 https://www.pcmag.com/feature/332886/the-greatest-gaming-tournaments-in-the-world/1

5 https://www.businessinsider.com/americans-spent-record-36-billion-video-games-2017-charts-2018-6

6 Ibid.

7 https://www.wealthwords.com/blog/10-amazing-facts-about-online-gaming-that-will-blow-your-mind/

8 Ibid.

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