- More than three quarters (77%) of households with online gamers report their broadband isn’t up to scratch
- Nearly two thirds of UK households (61%) now contain gamers who play online for almost two hours every day
- Around four in 10 (38%) gaming households report tensions – from the time spent gaming (19%) to worries over the costs of in-game purchases (12%)
- On the other hand, 39% say that gaming is good for relaxing while 19% champion games with memory aid and problem solving elements
- 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, a notable increase compared to households who don’t have any gamers at all (64%). The biggest issues for gaming homes include the internet disconnecting intermittently (37%), video buffering (35%) and slow loading pages (34%).
Almost two thirds (61%) of UK households contain people who play online, with these gamers reporting that they spend almost two hours gaming every day. 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.
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. There are also worries over family not socialising together (8%) and arguments about the internet slowing down (7%).
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. While the average gaming household says its broadband service provides speeds of 58Mbps, 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%). 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.
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.
Table 1: The following table shows the ten most popular online-enabled games in the UK:
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 – 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, that offer speeds in excess of 100Mbps – giving their internet extra firepower at particularly busy times.”
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