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First Person Shooters (Games)

Halo 2 Effect Threatens Broadband 78

darkstar949 writes "There is an article on CNET that reports the so called 'Halo 2' effect is threatening broadband users. Because of this some ISPs are being pressured for more reliability and low latency. Perhaps this marks a new trend for the internet as online gaming becomes more popular." From the article: "Sandvine's latest statistics showed that Xbox Live traffic quadrupled when "Halo 2" was launched on Nov. 9, and it has stayed at that level since. Sandvine claims that this will put added pressure on ISPs to improve the quality of their broadband offerings, as users will demand reliability and low latency."
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Halo 2 Effect Threatens Broadband

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  • ...that lag can be caused by your internet connection. BRILLIANT!
    • For real, I still don't understand how

      Sandvine claims that this will put added pressure on ISPs to improve the quality of their broadband offerings, as users will demand reliability and low latency.

      'threatens' broadband, I guess it also threatens everyone's desire to retire in the stone-age.
  • I agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    Yes, I think this is a very dangerous issue, but might also encourage the isps to improve the speed and quality of their serviec. Who knows, this could be a geed thing!
    • Re:I agree (Score:1, Troll)

      by Mikail ( 817047 )
      "a geed thing?" A thing relating to the command given to horses or oxen to turn them to the right? []
  • What in this article is a threat to broadband? What editor at CNet wrote this headline?

    quote: ISPs see online games as an application that could tempt many people-- both PC and console users--to broadband.

    yeah, they sound really scared.

    maybe they meant "opportunity" but threat got posted instead. Damn spellchecker :)
  • looks like it's time for Gabe and company at Valve to bring Power Play back from the vaporware/pipedream cabinet. is the X-box Live / Halo 2 usage that much greater than online Half-life was? is it really a new issue, or just the same old issue in new shiny Halo 2 wrapping?
    • Halo 2 has both usage and its bandwidth intensity working for it. Which takes more bandwidth, a game based off the Quake 2 engine, which worked well on 56k, or a game like Halo 2, with complicated phyiscs, bigger and more open levels etc etc? Obviously Halo 2 does. That's why its more pressure to ISP's or whatever.
      • Better graphics doesn't necessarily translate into more bandwidth usage. Half-life 2 actually uses less bandwidth than Half-life. I think we can all agree that Half-life 2 has significantly better graphics than Half-life.
      • I don't have much bandwidth issues with my Cable modem playing Halo 2. In fact, I average less than 10k/sec download and less than 5k/sec upload while playing on Live in a Big Team Battle (16 people).

        I played a few games with two Xboxen on the same line. My friend (Account1) and I (Account2) played in different Big Team Battles with mild lag. However, when we joined as a party there was again, no problem.

        The problem came when we had 3 Xboxen on the same line, even playing in the same game. Could be
    • Well, with most PC games you communicate with the keyboard. In Halo2 (and any xbox live game), you communicate via voice, which uses much more bandwidth.

      So yes, this is very different. (:
    • ...but isn't Steam [] synonymous with Power Play?
    • It might not be that much more bandwidth-intensive on a per-client basis, but it's a scale thing.

      There are a lot of people out there that couldn't be bothered to set up a gaming PC and play Half-Life or Counter-Strike--it's not an easy thing to do if you don't know computers well. On the other hand, even Grandma could set up an XBox and sign in to Live.

      The problem for ISP's lies in the fact that they have to oversell their bandwidth to generate a profit. There's a reason that cable can offer T3-esque sp

    • Obviously Halo 2 does.

      Well, there is the fact that Halo2 only allows 25% as many players as Quake....
  • If the providers start to shut down more spaamers and outher wasters of bandwidth, this is a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "People Using Net Threatens Broadband!"
  • by Goyuix ( 698012 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @02:52PM (#11034558) Homepage
    ISPs have had the ability to deal with this for a long time. Many home users even take advantage of an easy bandage (probably not a fix) - simply prioritize packets. As an example, ACK's get priority whereas the next packet in your 3GB Linux ISO gets bumped by a millisecond or two. Net result: Your connection is still usable and responsive, even though it is being pushed near capacity. Heck, I was behind a transparent proxy for awhile (didn't bother me, but that is another story) that would simplify routing as well. Most home users would never even know (or care about) the difference. Most are proxied at work some way or another as it is.

    ISPs can simply log their data, see where it is going and what it looks like and write some prioritization rules to give the end users some help. Yes it is more work for the ISP, but it is right in line with something they should be doing anyway.

    Now if there was a way to do proper QoS on the internet at large, that would be an interesting proposition as well...
    • Yes, there is already a well-tested priority scheme for this, driven by money. If you want a good table at the Vegas show, tip the guy 20 bucks at the door. So perhaps this will motivate the ISPs to provide tiered pricing, so that users who don't need 10ms ping--probably 80 percent of their users--won't have to pay for it. I sure know I don't want to pay more for lower ping times, I don't play online games and I'm happy with the performance as it is.

    • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @03:57PM (#11035301) Homepage
      Packet prioritization does not work in the real world beyond the LAN because of the potential for abuse. If ISPs were known to obey packet priority settings, everyone (or at least a number of scummy people large enough to break the system) would set all their packets to maximum priority, and enjoy improved speed at everyone else's expense until ISPs switched back to FCFS.

      I believe TCP/IP has always supported packet prioritization, but it's always been ignored for this reason.
      • nuts to the ISP, I do this on my LAN, and it works great, I set higher priority's for Streaming radio, HTTP, and games, (halflife and variants mostly), then put bittorrent and FTP in lower priority's, I can have a bittorrent using 95% of my bandwidth, and keep a 40ms ping in counterstrike of Hostile Intent,
      • Packet prioritization does not work in the real world beyond the LAN because of the potential for abuse.

        Wrong, in 3 ways. You can already modify your TCP and HTTP stacks to abuse the system for an unfair benefit, and yet most people don't.

        If ISPs were known to obey packet priority settings, everyone (...) would set all their packets to maximum priority

        If airlines were known to offer more comfortable "first class seating", everyone would use it, and enjoy more space at everyone else's expense.

    • >Now if there was a way to do proper QoS on the internet at large, that would be an interesting proposition as well...

      Until the first p2p-software that uses high priority packets for the bulk data transfer is published...
  • Low latency... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by c.r.o.c.o ( 123083 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @02:54PM (#11034590)
    ... is the most important part in my opinion. My ISP has always been extremely reliable, with at the most a day of downtime every six months. But for a while about half a year ago, their latency increased to the point where any online game became unplayeable. The connection was just fine for downloading data or browsing, but any server I could connect to would ping higher than 1s. Unfortunately, I could not switch ISPs, so I ended up giving up on gaming online.

    I used to be an Americas Army fanatic, spending even 4-5 hours a day playing. I won't try to pretend that I've stopped playing games, but now I only do it at lan parties, or I play games that don't require an internet connection. The reason I was spending so much time online was not necessarily playing the game itself, but playing it with other people. Since that element was removed, I spend less than an hour a day playing, mostly Warcraft3.

    As an interesting side note, my GPA improved quite a bit, and I have time to spend on other things... Imagine that!
    • ...with at the most a day of downtime every six months.

      Less than 99.5% uptime is not "extremely" reliable. It's also quite possible that it wasn't your ISP that changed, but something on your end. The first 2 weeks Halo was out, my roommates and I were having a terrible time getting decent connections. Turned out it was someone's malware infested laptop (it had gotten infected over wireless when he took it to campus; it had been fine siting behind our local firewall). The game went from unplayable to

      • That's what I thought at first. My setup is a Slack gateway, a Windows XP gaming machine, a Slack box, a Slack laptop and Windows 2k machine. I checked all Windows computers on my LAN for virii and spyware. I also disconnected everything other than the gateway and the Windows gaming machine. I reinstalled Windows XP and the game. None of it helped.

        At that point, I just called it a day. It's been 6 months now. In the meantime I did try playing AA once, and the connection was amazing, but unfortunately that
  • by log0n ( 18224 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @02:59PM (#11034654)
    When cable first was in development (@home was betatesting in Baltimore at least 7-8 years ago), just about anything other than straight up web browsing was a violation of the terms of service. Gaming (qworld, etc) was something you'd get suspension notices for because of how much of an impact it had then to the local 'community' network (all the pinging to servers, etc).

    Fast forward a bit and highspeed gaming is now a major selling point for ISPs.

    It's just funny to see how companies used to make huge problems out of things that later turn into total 180degree policy shifts.
    • by Mr. Shiny And New ( 525071 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @03:05PM (#11034746) Homepage Journal
      I was actually talking to a Rogers cable rep lately (the cable internet provider in Toronto, Ontario: it was formerly Rogers @home). I mentioned that I was having terrible latency problems, and he basically said that people who complain about latency are abusing the service in some way, or else they wouldn't care.
      • I live in Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto.

        Rogers is just shit. Period. Terrible, terrible ISP.

        All our computers are malware free, and i always make sure to shut off MSN, Gmail, etc. etc. every time i play. I run no FTP/HTTP services.

        I constantly get unnaceptable (not unplayable, but low) pings. It's so bad we're actually looking to switch to Sympatico right now.
    • Which is funny because @home used to have a commercial with a 2 second flash of Quake running on it in dm6. I guess they meant you can use their broadband to download the shareware client... hmm...
      • Gee whiz. My ISP (dslextreme) runs their own game servers for customers to use if they want really low latency -- and they provide explicit setup instructions for XBox Live and PS2 online gaming.

        I guess I should consider myself a lucky guy. :)
        • I had a dialup ISP, years ago, who had their own Quakeworld server that members could connect to. It was pretty awesome, except that it was a very small local ISP, so most of the time it was me wandering around an empty deathmatch map by myself.
        • I get the part about providing their own game servers (I think that's GREAT btw), but about the setup instructions for Xbox Live.... there's nothing to customize in setting up XBL, is there?? You don't specify servers or tweak any settings, you just connect and go.
  • Oh NO! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alkaiser ( 114022 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @03:03PM (#11034709) Homepage
    A demand for RELIABILITY?! How will these corporations ever stay competitive?!

    Seriously, these complaints are as stupid as the ones made by the insurance companies that insured the buildings after 9/11. Complaining about how they wouldn't be able to stay in business if they had to pay for these buildings.

    Your ENTIRE BUSINESS MODEL is based off of people paying you money in case something like this happens. That is the ONLY service you provide. And then they're saying that they can't provide it. Freaking brilliant. I hate corporations.
  • P2P (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is no different from when p2p applications began to become mainstream.. Even with the huge numbers of halo 2 players online, I still think that filesharing uses more bandwidth.
    • It may well do, but p2p isn't latency dependant, online gaming is.
      ISPs haven't just gotta handle big traffic, they've gotta handle it fast
  • Ha! Right. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by skadus ( 821655 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @03:10PM (#11034791) Homepage Journal
    They might do it, but they'll offer it as a new 'premium service'. Cebridge is doing it in my suburb of Houston, and RoadRunner is advertising it on the radio in Houston proper.

    I guess it's only fair, since they have to upgrade the lines for gamers and downloaders, but it feels like extortion. 'What? You're lagging out in Warcraft? Well, if you paid 15 bucks [I'm guestimating the price] more a month you wouldn't get killed so often. You want to enjoy your game don't you?'
  • NANOG (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmcleod ( 233418 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @04:00PM (#11035337) Homepage
    This is being discussed on NANOG. Consensus is that (surprise, surprise) this is a PR move by Sandvine, who just happens to have a bandwidth management product. Several network managers in charge of large, multithousand-user networks, and including one large university campus, and a couple of ISPs, have chimed in saying that they've seen no real increase in bandwidth usage since Halo 2 was launched, and in fact, in a couple cases, have seen usage drop, attributable to the migration of PC/Mac Halo 1 players to the Xbox-only Halo 2.

    The sky is not falling.
  • ...Is a very good thing. Here, Cox is the premier ISP - crappiest service ever. More often than not, the service is out during peak hours, and the customer service line is always busy. On top of that, the reps will flat-out LIE to you and say that you're the cause of the outage. (I was once told that my "illegal router" brought down the Norman service area.)

    Increased loads will cause Cox to at least build a better network, but I'm sure the service will stay pretty bad.
  • Sandvine claims that this will put added pressure on cable company (my edit) ISPs to improve the quality of their broadband offerings, as users will demand reliability and low latency.

    I find it hard to beleive this is an issue for DSL providers, but I can see this totally clogging up some sections of cable broadband ISP.
    • DSL still has its bottleneck, its just further down the pipe. DSL speeds are generally slower than cable also. In the lifetime of high speed internet I've only known 2 people to have dsl, one absolutely hated it, nothing but problems and ditched it for cable as soon as cable was available. The other person still has it now but is paying such a low price and doesn't really use the internet much so thats not a good representation.
  • ISP sales reps usually don't even know what latency is, I've heard comment's like.

    Higher throughput means lower latency" and other ridiculous panderings. I haven't heard of anyone who is extraordinarily happy with their isp, it's a routine service it should JUST WORK without concerns like 98% uptime.
  • by Red Moose ( 31712 ) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @07:55PM (#11037424)
    OK, enough with Halo 2. Plenty more games have larger userbases so stop advertising Halo 2 on Slashdot, for the love of god.
    • Really now? I didn't see crowds of people standing outside my local EBGames for the Half-Life 2 launch. Instead of hearing Half-Life 2 breaking sales records, I hear complaints about Steam, loading issues and copy protection preventing people from playing the game. Take your pick : you can have the larger userbase but a system that blows, or a smaller userbase but is refined and polished so Joe Average can use it. Either way Halo 2 outdoes Half-Life 2 in the media.
      • whoo hoo so halo 2 has a big user base. what's the point. not that i'm giving credit to half-life or anything but from what i can see in halo 2 there is nothing new on it. yea it may be new for halo but being able to hold two guns has been in bond forever. the plot line is never as good as everyone says.(aliens trying to take over the world with a plot twist that leaves the main charrecter on his own) i still and probably never will see why halo is so huge.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.