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.
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).