Press release:

Crash Broadbandicoot: Three quarters of online gaming households stricken by broadband issues

  • More than three quarters (77%) of households with online gamers report their broadband isn’t up to scratch[1]
  • Nearly two thirds of UK households (61%)[2] now contain gamers who play online for almost two hours every day[3]
  • Around four in 10 (38%) gaming households report tensions[4] – from the time spent gaming (19%) to worries over the costs of in-game purchases (12%)[5]
  • On the other hand, 39% say that gaming is good for relaxing while 19% champion games with memory aid and problem solving elements[5]
  • With gaming households much more likely to complain about broadband reliability issues, uSwitch.com advises gamers to check if they can get a faster connection at home to banish connectivity woes.

The UK might be caught up in the breakout popularity of online shooters like Fortnite, Overwatch and Apex Legends but its internet services aren’t always up to the challenge, according to new research by uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.

In fact, more than three quarters (77%) of households where occupants play online games report speed-related broadband issues[1], a notable increase compared to households who don’t have any gamers at all (64%)[6]. The biggest issues for gaming homes include the internet disconnecting intermittently (37%), video buffering (35%) and slow loading pages (34%)[7].

Almost two thirds (61%) of UK households contain people who play online[2], with these gamers reporting that they spend almost two hours gaming every day[3]. The idea that only children play games online is a thing of the past too, with more than half (52%) of adult-only houses indicating that they team up with their friends online to defeat the enemy hordes[8].

Unfortunately, this increased appetite for online games is putting a strain on broadband connections – and exacerbating tensions at home. Gaming households report concerns about the cost of in-game purchases (12%) and one in five (19%) people in these houses are fundamentally concerned that too much time is being wasted gaming[5]. There are also worries over family not socialising together (8%) and arguments about the internet slowing down (7%)[5].

The broadband services that these homes use will undoubtedly be contributing to their frustrations. One in six (16%) are on broadband packages with speeds of less than 30Mbps – comfortably above the recommended minimum speeds but likely still lagging because of the number of devices connected to the internet during peak times[9]. While the average gaming household says its broadband service provides speeds of 58Mbps[10], the truth is that many will also feel the strain as their speed can dip considerably below that, particularly during peak times.

Despite some concerns over broadband services and social tensions, gaming households are much more likely to see the positives too. Two in five (39%) people see games as important tools to help them relax, while others value the improved memory and problem solving abilities (19%) and making new friends online (10%)[5]. An additional 7% of households say that they are now more likely to play games together instead of more traditional social activities such as board games[5].

While more recent gaming successes like Fortnite are certainly making a splash in the industry, established blockbuster hits like FIFA and the latest iteration of the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise are still the nation’s favourite online games[11].

Table 1: The following table shows the ten most popular online-enabled games in the UK[11]:

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, says: “The blowout success of games like Fortnite – which now boasts in the region of 250 million registered players globally[12] – serves as a reminder that we are now a nation of gamers. From lush open-world RPGs (Role Playing Games) to intense claustrophobic shooters against hundreds of combatants, the online gaming world is more diverse than ever.

“For all of the social benefits that accompany online gaming, such as making new friends and challenging your mind with new experiences, there’s a hidden burden to playing games online. Jumping online to help your squad storm a fortified bunker can be taxing on your broadband connection, especially if other people in your household are trying to do other bandwidth-heavy tasks like streaming or video calls at the same time.

“It’s no surprise that gaming households particularly struggle with speed-related issues like the internet dropping out and video buffering, although it is worth noting that speed isn’t the only factor when it comes to making the shot before you get shot. It is worth checking what your ping rate is, as even gamers with superfast services, offering the regulator’s minimum speeds of 30Mbps, might find particularly laggy servers ruining their gaming experience.

“It’s really important for households to weigh up how much bandwidth they’re likely to need when choosing a broadband package. People who enjoy gaming and streaming TV at the same time might want to consider ultrafast services, available to 53% of the population[13], that offer speeds in excess of 100Mbps – giving their internet extra firepower at particularly busy times.”

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

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Notes to editors

uSwitch.com surveyed a sample of 2,000 UK adults from the 10th – 13th of May 2019. Results have been weighted to reflect a nationally representative criteria.

  1. Respondents who have someone in their household who plays games online were asked ‘Have you experienced the following when using your home broadband?’ The net response for people experiencing issues was 77%
  2. Respondents were asked ‘Do you or someone else in your household play games online at home?’ The net response for ‘yes’ was 61%
  3. Respondents who play games were asked: ‘How many hours a day, on average, do you spend on playing games online?’ The average response was 1.8 hours
  4. Respondents who have someone in their household who plays games online were asked: ‘Which of the following statements describes attitudes and feelings toward online / video gaming in your house?’ The net negative responses was 38%
  5. Respondents who have someone in their household who plays games online were asked: ‘Which of the following statements describes attitudes and feelings toward online / video gaming in your house?’ 39% say ‘Gaming is good for relaxing’, 19% say ‘People spend too much time gaming’, 19% say ‘I like that certain games are improving my memory/help with problem solving’, 12% say ‘I’m concerned about the cost of in-game purchases’, 10% say ‘I have made new friends gaming online’, 8% say ‘Gaming promotes ‘antisocial’ behaviour in the house’, 7% say ‘We are more likely to play games together online than other more ‘traditional’ activities (e.g. board games / the park)’ and 7% say ‘There are arguments over the internet slowing down’
  6. Respondents who don’t have someone in their household who plays games online were asked ‘Have you experienced the following when using your home broadband?’ The net response for people experiencing issues was 64%
  7. Respondents who have someone in their household who plays games online were asked ‘Have you experienced the following when using your home broadband?’ The net response for ‘Internet disconnecting’ was 37%, ‘video buffering’ was 35% and ‘slow loading pages’ was 34%
  8. Respondents who don’t live with children were asked ‘Do you or someone else in your household play games online at home?’ The net response for ‘yes’ was 52%
  9. Respondents who have someone in their household who plays games online were asked: ‘Thinking about your broadband connection what speed were you told it could achieve?’ The net response for those you receive services of less than 30Mbps is 16%
  10. Respondents who have someone in their household who plays games online were asked: ‘Thinking about your broadband connection what speed were you told it could achieve?’ The average response was 57.6Mbps
  11. See table 1 above.
  12. Source: GamesRadar
  13. Source: Ofcom Connected Nations, Sping 2019

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

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