(Updated 11/18/2013 with another network reference point)
The PS4 launched yesterday, and broadband networks around the US did feel the impact. Not Netflix level impact, but impact that operators should take notice for, if not only for today, but for the changing nature of gaming and game purchases going forward.
Consumers seem to love the system, and I am a big fan of the system. Crisp graphics, great controller, even a very cool camera (not quite Kinect, but not as creepy!). I decided to go all digital for the console, and purchase no physical games, instead relying on Day 1 Digital delivery from the Playstation Store. Sony has done a good job with making it easy to purchase and download (and re-download if needed) content – games, movies, music, and even general applications. The launch day applications were mainly video streaming applications (which I investigate below). This shift towards “cloud” services has the potential to have a big impact on networks going forward, but in this case, the content provider suffered more than the broadband provider
It was Sony that suffered during this event more than the network operators. Beyond the reported Playstation network issues (which I suffered as well, see below), the impact on networks was noticeable, with as much as 17% of all HTTP-based download traffic on one network being tied to the PS4, traffic to Playstation.net doubling, and traffic peaks approaching 7 Gbps on one network.
This first graph looks at Netflix traffic versus PS4 traffic on one network. As you can see, Netflix still dominates, but the PS4 is noticeable (hey, when your peak hits Netflix’s trough, that is something today!).
The traffic on one cable network in North America to Playstation.net doubled from it’s peak over the past week (which is usually Tuesday/Wednesday when new games are released), as shown below:
The PS4 was also the largest single contributor to HTTP-based downloads over the past 24 hours on another network, registering over 17% of the download traffic as people updated the console and downloaded their initial games. This was where many issues were reported, with many consumers not able to login to the PlayStation Network to get their games, and if they could, the “play while downloading feature” left a bit to be desired for most games (I could play a few friendlies in FIFA 14).
The PS4 traffic started early (in some cases before the official launch time), and kept going strong. All of the graphs below start when PS4 traffic was first seen on the network, in one case starting as early as 10:00 AM on the 14th:
Network 1 (Peaked at almost 5GBps of traffic):
Network 2: (Peaked at over 6Gbps)
Network 3: (Peaked at over 7Gbps)
When you compare PS3 traffic to PS4 traffic on the networks, the PS4 destroyed the PS3, with over 80% of the Playstation traffic belonging to the PS4 over the 24 hour period.
My PS4 Launch Day
My launch day started at around 1 pm when my console arrived (and I even live tweeted it – follow me on Twitter for future events). I did go to sleep eventually, and the system continued to download during the night, finally finishing up.
The total volume of data consumed over 24 hours? 71GB.
Yes, 71GB – which consisted of the following downloads:
- FIFA 14
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- DC Universe Online
- Netflix application (and an hour of movies)
- Amazon application (and an hour or so of Alpha House)
- The system update required to make the PS4 useful
Here is my timeline for usage over that period, and I applaud Sony for their bandwidth speed – I got 5Mbps download pretty consistently :
That is quite a haul for data usage. If I had a 200GB cap, and I had purchased a few more games, I might be in trouble for November. There is definitely an opportunity for some gaming specific service treatment here by operators, as this will be repeated when the XBox 1 comes out soon.
As games become more digital, and consumers realize the benefits of digital purchases versus disc-based, the release of new systems and games will become a network-impacting event – imagine 10 million copies of Grand Theft Auto being downloaded as 50GB downloads all over the world….that would eclipse Netflix during the event.
We will monitor to see if any other anomalies jump out from the launch on our networks.