How Latency Affects The FPS Experience And How To Solve It

31st March, 2017 by

Given the centrality of online multiplayer to the First Person Shooter (FPS) genre and the general modern gaming experience, it is paramount for connection-based latency to be at an absolute minimum. But how do you keep latency from getting you down?

More than any other genre, Most FPS games require instant feedback for shooters. So in order for these games to function well, there needs to be around 30ms or less of latency. Other games may be able to function well at around 50ms but the FPS genre is very demanding. Shooting at a moving target in a first-person shooter requires faster connections than most sports games. Modern gaming, and particularly FPS games,  demand flexibility and scalability from gaming platform providers.

Latency and First Person Shooters

Latency is detrimental to the overall experience of online games. That’s the bottom line. The time it takes between when a user pulls the trigger, and how long it takes for the server to register the bullet as a hit, can change the outcome of a game.  At best, poor latency results in frustrating game play, at the worst it devolves into an unplayable mess of time jumps and excessive loading times. 

It’s best to be avoided wherever and however possible.

When latency is over 30ms, users can experience poor hit registration when they fire at other players, and can find their characters losing exchanges with other players much more often than they should. Imagine aiming down the sight at an unsuspecting enemy before emptying half a clip into them only to find them killing you within two bullets. Latency can be the difference between life and death, not actual death of course, but character death… It’s not uncommon to hear frustrated players refer to other players as ‘sponges’, referring to how latency can allow players to survive scenarios where they would otherwise have been killed.

Gaming is intended to be as reactive as possible in order to reward players with fast reaction times. However, although latency can be a very big problem, there are a number of steps developers  and users alike can take in order to keep latency at an acceptable level. At the very least, these steps can keep you from throwing your controller out of rage.

How To Eliminate Latency

The main question is how do we get rid of, or minimize latency? Well, the answer to this issue is generally with user-based solutions and with hosting solutions, but we must first distinguish whether it’s a wifi or a latency problem…

One of the best ways to tell if you’re playing with a wifi connection issue is to switch to a wired connection and test the amount of latency you experience through a wired connection. You can also make use of speed tests available from websites like Ookla.

Wired connection is much less prone to disruption from outside interference and distance than wifi connections. Most servers run on a client to server architecture, so if a user’s connection setup isn’t optimized there can be noticeable delays. If you are not working with a wifi problem, you are generally applying a Band-Aid to a larger problem of a poor gaming platform. It is vital for platform developers to take responsibility and take a preemptive approach to anticipate and cope with consumer demand.

The Solution: Upscaling

Game developers can address latency by scaling the infrastructure and utilizing other providers or data centers across the globe. By spreading data, latency can cut down the amount of time it takes for a user’s input to travel to the server.

It is essential that the infrastructure of gaming platforms be reliable enough to handle high output traffic from users across the world, as modern online multiplayer can easily have millions of users online demanding quality and consistency. By upscaling the number of resources, game developers can ensure that the infrastructure is there to cope with consumer demand.

The farther the user is from the server hosting the game, the worse the latency will be on account of the distance. By hosting websites closer to their target audiences, game hosts will ensure they can provide a much more reliable and high-quality service by reducing the levels of latency that users will experience both in terms of gameplay and in terms of loading times.

FPS game developers need to hold themselves to a higher standard of preventing latency than any other genre. Obviously, frustrated players are not good for the longevity of the game. So it is paramount to ensure there is as little latency as possible in order to keep the game enjoyable for the users and money in your pocket.

What’s to be done?

By upscaling their infrastructure and placing data centers across the globe, gaming hosts can make sure that they are in the position to meet the demands of modern online gaming, and enabling themselves to meet consumer expectations. In today’s gaming market, it is no longer enough for a game to have solid gameplay. Its online multiplayer and connectivity must be flawless, with hosting providers able to meet global user demands 24/7. Anything less than secure and reliable connection 24 hours a day is falling short of the on-demand expectations that modern gamers have when it comes to online gaming.

Solution: 100TB

So how do you get your data everywhere all the time?  By deploying resources around the globe to data centers, tasked with 24/7 maintenance of your online service. By working with a data center, you have outsourced the responsibility for ensuring your service runs at optimum levels. This is preferable to trying to host your own and trying to put in place the on-demand support, power generators and a state of the art firewall that come as part of the service. Rather than paying for this equipment yourself it can be much more efficient and cost-effective to work with a company that already has the specific facilities in place and the knowledge to keep the service on demand.