It's been two decades since Everquest, Mechwarrior BattleTech, and The Realm Online became meeting grounds for both gaming and socializing, and the online gaming world is still flourishing. Entire sub-genres have come, gone, and made multiple revivals, all with one thing in common: the fear of lag. No matter what online game you play, a few of these networking and general internet service concepts can help you understand why you online performance may be taking a hit, along with what matters when choosing an internet service plan.
Hosted Online Without A Dedicated Server
There are multiple types of online gaming systems, and while they all depend on an internet connection at some point, the importance of that connection's consistency and speed is different for every system.
The oldest, yet still relevant method of online gaming is hosted server gaming using the player's normal hardware. The server is your gaming system, whether you're playing on an Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, or Personal Computer (PC).
This means that in addition to playing the game, your system is also hosting the game for others. Players after don't see the heavy design that goes into making this happen efficiently, as bad hosting management can make the host gamer slower than everyone else.
With this type of gaming, everyone's performance is limited to how good the host's device and internet connection can be. Games are usually designed with a player limit, because more players means more processing power needed and more internet capacity--no matter how small--consumed to send messages between the host system and other gaming systems.
The more modern type of online hosted gaming involves connecting to a company's server, and a newer type is a hybrid of using the game company's server to pick a player who has the best connection for playing efficiently. There are many experimental ways of hosting information, and it all depends on your internet quality.
Hosted Online Dedicated Private Server
If you've ever played Minecraft or any number of private server games, you're likely playing on one of two connections: a home connection that barely handles the demand, or a professionally hosted system.
The problem with running a private server from home is that residential internet is not designed for business use. Especially with persistent world online games--meaning that the game continues to perform different activities whether a player is connected or not--you need to constantly exchange information within tens or the low hundreds of milliseconds to really feel like everyone is playing at the same time and speed.
Residential connections have a lot of errors and delays that are unnoticeable by most web browsers and even video streaming services, but online gaming is too sensitive. A hosted server is usually run by a company that is dedicated to sharing information, and usually with a more expensive internet service agreement that guarantees a certain level of performance.
To avoid these errors with a better plan, or to figure out which games are okay on a residential connection, contact an internet service provider and talk about your gaming needs.