Mega Patches And Slow Downloads
Making a game that requires an Internet connection will always mean that both it, and the players, are dependent on the speed and robustness of their connection. Usually, after the initial installation, not a lot of bandwidth is required as the file transfer during play tends to be pretty small and manageable. That is, until, that dreaded patch appears…
I’ve never had much of an issue with patching my MMORPGs before… until I started playing World of Warcraft. Even though the game isn’t as technically, hmm, pretty? as some newer MMOs, WoW’s patches are still plenty large and 3.3 is no exception. In fact, it’s a downright whopper, weighing in at 1.1GB in total.
The ironic thing is that Blizzard have got more money than God to spend on server architectures and yet their patch downloads are consistently some of the slowest I’ve ever experienced and their patches some of the largest (or maybe it’s just that I never noticed with other games before). I appreciate the fact that they release the content early to be downloaded in the background as you play but downloading 1.1GB of data at 5kbps is like trying to make a dent in a steel wall with a toothpick. A bent toothpick.
I can understand the theory behind utilising the whole peer-to-peer transfer mechanic in order to try and reduce the load on their servers but unfortunately most ISPs throttle P2P traffic now (and mine’s one of them). I’d much rather just download the patch file itself but that won’t be available on either the patcher or mirror sites until the official release. And, even then, I find the final download speeds to be pretty darn slow.
Suffice to say, I’m not really looking forward to patch day (apparently targeted for December 8th). The only saving grace is that I can usually copy the patch files from my main PC to my laptop and thus don’t have to download it twice… all kinda funny when you end up with a portable data drive just filled with patch files so you never have to download them again.
Blizzard aren’t alone in their download-slowness though and I had much a similar problem with Aion and it’s “trickle” download. Yep, we live in the 21st century, high-speed Internet connections, and 5GB downloads at 7kbps. Awesome.
Of course, some MMORPG companies seem to have everything calmly under control. CCP spring to mind here and, although I’ve yet to download Dominion, I’ve always had excellent download speeds with them, so much so that I didn’t even bother to transfer the installation files over to my laptop, I just re-downloaded the entire game.
So let’s name and shame. Who are the worst offenders for slow downloads and giant patches? And who are the best? My votes are for Blizzard and CCP respectively.