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The face of the gaming industry has changed greatly over the past two decades, and the rise of online multiplayer played no small part in that.
Of course, one of the main reasons why the popularity of multiplayer games exploded was the steady increase in internet connection speed and stability. Today, LAN parties are a thing of the past, but despite the major technological advancements, not everyone has access to high-bandwidth internet. In fact, many gamers might need to rely on a metered connection, if only temporarily.
Which brings up the titular question—how much data do modern multiplayer games gobble up?
Fortunately, the answer is: not much.
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On average, playing multiplayer games will use about as much data as music streaming would, i.e., roughly 40-100 MB per hour. In contrast, streaming HD video can use up anywhere from 1 GB to 3 GB of data per hour, all the while streaming 4K content would burn through a whopping 7 GB of data per hour.
That said, you can rest assured that no game will hog up your bandwidth or burn through your data as quickly as streaming video content would. However, the above is just a generalization, and while games are nowhere near as demanding in this respect as video streaming is, the data usage can still vary wildly from game to game.
In this article, we’ll be listing the average per-hour data usage of some popular games. So, if you’re using a metered connection or are simply have to make do with limited bandwidth, check out the table below!
Of course, again, the numbers listed above are just approximations, as the exact data usage will still vary based on a number of variable factors, e.g., the number of players involved in a multiplayer match or a particular area of the map in an MMO.
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That said, if you’re gaming online using a metered connection and want to make sure that you don’t burn through whatever data you have, it’s best to simply test it out yourself.
So, with the above in mind, it’s clear that bandwidth and connection speed shouldn’t be the main factors to worry about when it comes to using the internet for gaming. Rather, stability and latency tend to be much more important.
Stability is fairly self-explanatory—a stable connection doesn’t break often and doesn’t suffer from sudden, drastic drops in speed, or erratic latency. As long as your connection is stable, you won’t have to worry about disconnecting or about any game-breaking lag.
Speaking of lag, latency is often the most important factor to keep in mind if you want to have an enjoyable multiplayer experience. It is measured in milliseconds and it indicates how long it takes for your PC to communicate with the game server, so it’s easy to see as to why it would be important for online gaming.
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When you’re interacting with other players in a multiplayer game, you aren’t interacting with them in real-time, and there is always a certain amount of delay. Of course, lower latency (ideally under 200ms) can make this delay negligible, for the most part.
However, as mentioned above, when latency gets too high, you experience lag, and a fast download/upload speed won’t help in that respect. If you have problems with high latency, there’s a number of things you can do to try and solve the issue, and we have a more thorough article dedicated to that subject.
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And that would be about it for this guide. As mentioned before, it’s impossible to accurately determine how much data any game will end up using per hour as the numbers will inevitably vary based on a number of factors, so the values listed in the article are merely approximations and averages.
Moreover, as mentioned above, if you’re playing using a metered connection and need to make sure you don’t run out of data, it’s best to simply test the data usage of the games you want to play yourself.