Broadband speed holding industry back, says Eidos head

Ian Livingstone says latency, download times hampering transition to games-as-a-service

As the gaming industry increasingly goes online for distribution as well as gameplay, the ability of telecom networks to handle the demands placed on them becomes more and more crucial. Eidos president Ian Livingstone said as much at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week, according to Total Telecom.

″What we need is super-speed broadband," Livingstone told the telecom operators in attendance, adding, ″You're kind of holding us back in many respects.″

Livingstone said that as games move from individually purchased products to ongoing services, they require more from the broadband networks they use. Playing online games requires reliable connections with latency below 40 milliseconds for a good experience. Additionally, the ballooning file sizes of games mean they take longer to download, another impediment to a good user experience. He encouraged telecoms to borrow an idea from the designers of London's 1860s sewer system, who built it to handle six times the capacity needed at the time.

″The message is: build bigger pipes and we'll try not to fill them,″ Livingstone said. ″ISPs, please do not rest on your laurels.″

More stories

Eidos Montreal and Eidos Sherbrooke announce four-day work week

Developer's Quebec-based studios change to new schedule with no further changes to current working conditions

By Jeffrey Rousseau

Former Project IGI devs buy IP back from Square Enix

But developer Artplant not announcing new game just yet, re-releases and remasters are off the cards

By James Batchelor

Latest comments (12)

Jamie Read 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd9 years ago
That is what is largely holding cloud gaming back for now. I don't see the average gamer having broadband quick enough to be able to play high-end graphics games for at least another 3 or 4 years.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
If that, Jaime. ISP's will jack up the price so much for more service and come up with junk bundles that force many users into content they don't need (nor want) with contracts they can't back out of unless there's a fee paid. Granted, those who can afford these packages won't have anything to complain about, but unless broadband follows the "old" trend of tech dropping in price the more people adopt it over time, I can see more people not being able to game at all because the end costs will be too expensive.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Luke Salvoni . 9 years ago
Greg, Virgin Media's 50MB fibre optic broadband was only 50/month when first introduced, and when you compare this to the average consumer who will likely have a smartphone costing 20-50/month or a digital TV subscription package at another 10-30/month, it's really not so bad when you compare it to similar luxuries.

Their basic cable package has risen from ~10MB to 30MB and is competitively priced. Seeing as you can pay for 100MB for under 40 per month these days, then this absolutely contradicts your statement of such technology apparently not being reduced in price to the consumer. That is my point here.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with VM in any way and neither is my family, but happen to know enough about them as an ISP and as a bandwidth-hungry consumer.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (12)
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
I'm just really glad he mentioned latency as the main issue. Most people think it's just the need for higher download speeds. That's needed but getting latency down is even more important. And it's unfortunately less of a priority to ISPs.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.9 years ago
Luke, the roll out for fiber has been very limited in the US. And in many locations where it does exist, it's expensive.

Population density plays a huge role in this factor which is where Europe holds a huge advantage over the US.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Luke, here in the US, we have the worst BB service of any major country, so unless you're here and can see that we get screwed by companies who love to think everyone is stupid enough to want to bundle crap they don't need, pay more for more bandwidth because "that's how it's done here" (what I heard from more than one salesperson I've spoken with when shopping around for JUST a simple, inexpensive no-frills broadband with no other services attached in the NYC area), well... you get the idea.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
They have similar scams here in UK. Its a license to (bundle) swindle folks really
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd9 years ago
Jim, the situation is similar in the UK, and we don't even have the excuse of population density. Hundreds of thousands of households in London alone aren't served by cable or fibre to the cabinet, with no fixed timetable as to when this will ever be resolved. Other countries in Europe have invested in their infrastructure and are leaving us in the dust as a result.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
People forget how much latency the average TV has, they are not designed for gaming and convert signal to picture quite slowly.

Jagex made Runescape work online in a browser way back in 2001 when the internet worked with pigeons, they just used very clever software to do so.

Also back in 2001 Codemasters published Insane by Invictus, an online racing game that worked very well indeed.

So yes, less latency and more bandwidth is always nice. But the main thing holding the industry back online is lack of application.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nick Parker Consultant 9 years ago
There are some neat tech companies coming up with download solutions for low bandwidths as an interim solution over the next few years until we all have much higher broadband speeds. A mix of progressive download and streaming, and I'm not talking household names in this category, which could overcome what Ian is saying.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 9 years ago
For the UK I see one major problem with the development of our infrastructure: BT. And not just the company itself but everyone's attachment to them. Many people who work in the UK (even within the IT industry) have trouble getting away from the idea of the ADSL model and the government constantly push business towards a company that has let the national infrastructure rot for about 10 years before getting into gear about it.

I work closely with wireless ISPs (and run one myself), small to medium sized companies that have completely revolutionised connectivity in their local areas as the telephone infrastructure has not been able to handle even a fraction of what they can provide. Places like the Isle of Wight, Isle of Man and Hull have these services in good supply from people who know what they are talking about and picking up the slack of horrendous job that standard telcos are doing.

Wish the government would start funding these operations and not the outdated telephone line technology. Look at the countries with the best connectivity in Europe. I know what the Latvians, Polish, Czech and Estonians all use. Want a 100Mbps link to another building? There's kit around that would to that for around 100 over 500m-1km and it's easy to use!
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Latency is overlooked when a blackbox is at the end of the cable, but the issue of underperformance from 3G and 4G providers could hold the game scene to ransom if dependancy on their deliverable becomes the norm!

I was surprised how few journos spotted the Rift VR HMD latency till the first problems at ComicCom?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.