The Downloading Downfall Of MMOs
The Internet is a pretty fun place to live. Everything is on demand, downloadable and streaming at you with a click of a button. I utterly adore the idea that all of my favourite movies, songs, games and images are all available online for my pleasure. The only problem is trying to get them because, unless you live in South Korea and happen to be downloading from a South Korean website, you’re likely to be getting a pretty slow connection. And it’s not just your ISPs fault either. In fact, it’s probably the fault of the distributor who doesn’t have the bandwidth, platform or money to give you a high speed download. Yep, that’s right, I’m looking at you Funcom.
Although I had originally pre-ordered Rise of the Godslayer from Amazon, I cancelled it after I discovered that the digital version direct from Funcom was a 1/3 cheaper. This meant that I could buy the expansion and reactivate my old account (getting access to all my old characters and original purchase rewards) for the same price as getting the boxed edition. I was also theoretically able to play AoC again sooner than having to wait for the good old Royal Mail to pop the package through my letter box. Note I said “theoretically”.
Age of Conan is a whopper of a game and one of the biggest (in terms of file size) MMOs that I’ve ever installed so it was no surprise to me that the full download direct from Funcom was a staggering 12GB. Not a problem for my trusty “high speed” broadband package I thought and I even had flashbacks of that one time I downloaded something at a full 1Mbps. Unfortunately for me though, the download fairies weren’t on my side and I spent the next 14 hours ripping up and transporting Hyboria piece by piece through time and space to my flat in Scotland.
Although it was a tedious process, Funcom haven’t actually been the worse MMO download speed offender I’ve suffered. Nope, that honour goes to NCSoft and their “trickle download” of Aion. Yep, nothing like trying to patch gigabytes of data at a measly 6Kbps. I think my 56k modem had more impressive download sessions that that.
The size of the developer or publisher doesn’t seem to make any odds either and even the big gorillas like Blizzard still have shockingly poor distribution networks. Even though World of Warcraft isn’t the largest install on the planet, trying to download a 500MB patch (or even, heaven forbid, the entire game) at a medicore 200-300Kbps isn’t very much fun at all. Isn’t it about time Blizzard coughed up for some real digital distributors ’cause I’m sick of keeping back ups of all of their patch files just incase I need to re-install the game.
It’s not all doom and gloom though and occasionally we come across a gem amongst all of these pebbles. I’m of course talking about the developer who can do no wrong, CCP. Their EVE Online client, which sits at around a 3-4GB download, slides down wonderfully at a respectable 600-800Kbps. It’s so quick and easy to install actually, I don’t have a backup of the game anywhere. If I want to install it on a new system, I just download it all again within an hour or two.
So who’s your MMO download sinner or saint? Do you have any particularly painful (or refreshing) patching and download stories to share?