The Downloading Downfall Of MMOs

The long wait of downloading...

Patching in MMOs is the perfect opportunity to take a night off from playing

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?


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  1. Gremrod says:

    My saint was CCP, but now it is Avatar Creation with their game Perpetuum Online the download is 268MB total and expands during install to just over 500mb!

    I have to say I was not one that downloaded Aion, thank god. But I would say that Funcom is one on my list for the dreadful downloads.

    • Gordon says:

      Aion and Age of Conan both suffer from the fact that they are HUGE games and thus huge downloads… it’s no fun at all trying to get hold of them digitally. It’s one of the reasons that I was so reluctant to remove Aion actually because I knew it would be a royal pain to get back.

  2. Klepsacovic says:

    Blizzard is my worst, but that’s with almost no experience with others. I tried many times to get a Mac client, with no luck, eventually giving up and not finding a working one until years later. There there is the patching… One after another after another.

    • Gordon says:

      Ugh yes, lol, why can’t they just have it all download in a single updated patch?! I often wonder how much times I’m just downloading something which will be overwitten an hour later by a newer patch :P

  3. Carson says:

    I give Runes of Magic one thumb up for always having a good download speed.. and one colossal thumb down for the fact that if anything goes wrong in the actual patching process, like not having quite enough free disk space, it will just give up totally – and force you to download the whole patch again.

    I recall Fallen Earth was particularly bad, it had about ten thousand tiny files which it transferred one at a time, I’m sure the overhead was a lot greater than the actual data transfer.

    Surprised at all the Blizzard problems, obviously peer-to-peer will give different results for different people but from my corner of the world (Australia) it’s never been anything other than excellent.

  4. Alarmist says:

    Saint: CCP. Hands down the game I never worry about having a back up and the first game installed after a rebuild or system wipe. Easy, fast, flawless.

    Sinner: Blizzard. There are worse by far when it comes to download speed, but no company has less of am excuse for forking over the money for respectable bandwidth than Blizzard. Here is a company that makes more money per month than any other MMO makes all year long and they depend on per-to-per file sharing to distribute their product.

    I’m a big open source and distributed network fan but when a company makes as much money as Blizzard does and yet lays the burden of distrabution on the very customers that have made them rich it stinks of arrogance, laziness, and greed.

  5. Yasmina says:

    Sounds like a pain. I was pleasantly surprised that my download slurped down at ~600kps. I’m in the SF Bay Area, though, so they really have no excuse not to have speedy servers. I like the expansion so far!

  6. Allods wins for me. Because I still haven’t been able to get the game to install correctly after downloading it multiple times. And when I download that much and it still won’t work, I just call it a day and conclude that the game was never worth it to begin with.

    Star Wars Galaxies also used to bother me because you had to have an active subscription or trial to even see if there were patches. I’m one of those people who likes to download patches to games I plan on returning to, but SOE stopped that by making me login just to keep updated.

    If the process of logging in is more trouble than the game is fun, count me out.

    • Gordon says:

      I don’t remember SOE games too be too bad although I installed most of them by disc and just never uninstalled them :) I think I still have my EQ2 folder on my portable HD too! It was always a lot easier just to back up the entire folder than try to download it again.

  7. Elleseven says:

    Fallen Earth was brutally slow. And now I’m afraid to uninstall it as a friend who is a computer savant and works of Intel uninstalled his Fallen Earth and said the game seriously screwed up his hard drive.

    My worst installation is Dragon Age which refuses to load on my laptop (which is very new). I’ve tried everything and still no play.

  8. Tesh says:

    DDO didn’t like me, and Blizzard has similar issues. If I got partway through a download, and the internet connection broke for some reason (any reason), I had to start the entire download over. I stuck with it by letting it run overnight in both cases, but it also took several overnight download binges because of the multiple patches.

    Not cool.

    • Gordon says:

      I wish I could just download the entire up to date zip of WoW from Blizzard’s website direct and didn’t have to bother with the peer-to-peer partial downloads whenever I reinstall the game.

      Plus any download that can’t be resumed is a huge crime in my book! :)

    • Tesh says:

      Oh, and bonus turd points for Steam, while we’re at it. I have to get it to run ONLINE before I can play any of my games in OFFLINE mode. If my internet is busted for any reason, I can’t get the client updated, and it will refuse to work.


  9. Peter says:

    Wow I’m actually quite surprised at all of the problems described by others with blizzards download client. My download speeds with them have been actually quite decent. Whereas AoC took what seemed like a lifetime to download.

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