Players may experience 'somewhat slower' game downloads – Sony

MANILA, Philippines – Game companies are starting to throttle or adjust game download speeds as a result of the global lockdowns set up to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sony already made an announcement on Tuesday, March 24, tempering expectations for gamers downloading from their online store. 

"Players may experience somewhat slower or delayed game downloads but will still enjoy robust gameplay. We appreciate the support and understanding from our community, and their doing their part, as we take these measures in an effort to preserve access for everyone," said Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment. 

Some such as Microsoft's Xbox Live and Nintendo have already suffered outages related to the current surge in online users while desktop platform Steam has been seeing record concurrent users. (READ: Online gaming booms as virus lockdowns keep millions at home)

Right now, Sony's efforts to manage traffic may be centered on Europe, saying that it's working with internet service providers in the region "to manage download traffic to help preserve access for the entire internet community."

The company's cautious message regarding the possible overloading on their network addresses "the entire community."  

The throttling specifically takes on game downloads, and not the in-game data transfers that occur during a multiplayer session. Game downloads are huge, with recent examples such as the free-to-play battle royale Call of Duty: Warzone reaching over 100GB in size. Upcoming big games such as Final Fantasy VII Remake and the Resident Evil 3 remake may be smaller than Warzone in download size but are still multi-gigabyte files. 

"We believe it is important to do our part to address internet stability concerns as an unprecedented number of people are practicing social distancing and are becoming more reliant on internet access," Ryan said.

The world's largest content delivery network Akamai has also said that it is working with Microsoft and Sony, among other gaming companies to help "manage congestion during peak usage periods." 

"This is very important for gaming software downloads which account for large amounts of internet traffic when an update is released – a software update for a modern game generates an amount of traffic roughly equal to 30,000 web pages," says Akamai CEO Tom Leighton, as reported by TechCrunch

Leighton explained that, in "regions where demand is creating bottlenecks for customers, we will be reducing gaming software downloads at peak times, completing the downloads at the normal fast speeds late at night."

Gamers will still be getting the downloads they want but it may take longer than usual during peak usage times. The downloads will progress faster during off-peak hours, which is usually late at night for most. The throttling may also depend on overall demand for a particular game in a given region. 

This kind of data traffic management may also benefit health workers looking to access vital COVID-19 content, Leighton added. 

Dave McCarthy, corporate vice president for Xbox Product Services, also chimed in on the Akamai blog post, saying Microsoft is also actively monitoring usage and making adjustments on-the-go to ensure a smooth gaming experience. – Rappler.com