In recent years, internet gaming has increased in popularity exponentially. This guide will take you through a few things to take into consideration to ensure you get the very best online gaming experience — and maybe even give you an advantage against the competition.
Choosing gaming broadband:
- Speed: Obviously, you're looking for the fastest broadband connection possible.
- Download allowance: Download limits are soon reached when gaming intensively, so if you‘re a frequent gamer, you might prefer an unlimited package.
- Low latency: Latency refers to the time it takes for a press on your controller to register in the game you're playing.
- No throttle: Because gaming is a bandwidth-heavy activity, some ISPs will slow down your connection. Try and find one that doesn't use traffic shaping.
- Low contention ratio: If lots of people are using broadband from the same exchange as you, you'll get a slower connection and suffer from lag while you're gaming. To ensure that doesn't happen look around for a broadband provider with a low contention ratio.
- Freebies: Some providers, such as Virgin Media, offer extra incentives for gamers.
Gaming broadband ISPs
The following broadband providers excel in offering great-value gaming broadband packages:
- BT's fibre broadband Infinity products are fantastic for online gaming, offering speeds of up to 76Mbps in most parts of the UK and low latency rates to ensure minimum lag between the moment you press your control pad and the moment the command is registered. If you're lucky enough to be in area covered by BT's pure-fibre network, you can sign up for 330Mbps broadband and really supercharge your gaming.
- Virgin Media's super-fast fibre-optic broadband packages minimise 'ping' to provide customers with the smoothest gaming experience possible. The top of the range Virgin Media broadband product offers 300Mbps.
- TalkTalk's cable broadband offers comparable speeds in line with BT Infinity.
- PlusNet offer excellent support for gamers using their PlusNet Pro package, which prioritises gaming traffic to ensure your experience isn't compromised.
Gaming consoles and broadband
- PS4, PSP, PS3, Wii U or Nintendo 3DS: Simple to connect since these consoles have wireless capability — just make sure your wireless router is compatible.
- Xbox One: This also supports wireless broadband, so it's very easy to connect.
- Xbox 360: You're going to need to buy a wireless adapter or connect directly to a modem.
- Playstation 2, or Xbox, or older: You may have to buy additional hardware such as a network adaptor.
Note: Some internet games require subscription payments even after you have bought the game. Mostly these are MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) such as the hugely popular World of Warcraft. These types of games have communities that need maintenance, the cost of which is covered by subscriptions.
However, if you just want to race someone on the other side of the world on Mario Kart DS, then your DS will connect immediately through a wireless network straight out of the box and there's no need to pay.