May 21, 2019 read, explore

Can You Play Video Games Like ‘Call of Duty’ With Satellite Internet?

Satellite internet is a necessity for some Americans. Few would ever choose a satellite connection over a wired one; you really only get satellite when DSL or cable isn’t an option where you live.

But for those that are about to, or have just got satellite internet, questions start swirling about what you can do with it. Can I still watch Netflix? Will I be able to game? Well, I’ve lived with satellite internet for some time now and can answer your questions.

First off, satellite internet comes with pretty lame data caps, most plans top out at 50gb / month plus extra data during the early morning hours. So, for most modern satellite internet plans, watching Netflix is possible. Will it load as seamlessly as a regular broadband connection? No. But the main problem is running out of data before the end of your billing cycle, in which case your connection will probably be slowed down significantly.

For many, the question of whether or not they can game is a pretty big one. Unfortunately, if you try it, you’ll find out almost instantly that you cannot. The lag was so bad when I tried that when I was running in BF4, I kept being transported back to where I started. You should experience a similar glitch if you try.

So, first-person shooters are pretty much out of the question with satellite. Completely unplayable. So are other quick reaction games like racing and whatnot. You may be able to play some online strategy games, but the other players will get mad at you for your ridiculously pathetic ping.

That brings me to why gaming doesn’t work with satellite. It all has to do with your ping. The ping is basically how long it takes your system to communicate with the server that you’re playing on. If you have satellite internet, that means your system is sending a signal to space and back at the speed of light. This delay can take around 250 milliseconds. That may sound impressive, but for online games, that’s too long. 

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  • Hello,

    This article is helpful for my current research on the supply of Satellite internet and its potential drawbacks. It seems gaming is just a debacle that keeps people from enjoying the new great American Pastime just because they choose not to live in the infrastructure of broadband. You are absolutely correct that the current gaming server configuration is not tolerant of excessive “Ping” or transmission rates. However, with more efficient satellites going up that supply a throughput of up to 300mb/s down, translating to average residential speeds of 75-100mb/s (non peak), then there should be evolution by the game server community to accommodate latency. I am not a gaming server expert by any sense, however, I know that there is a very large market that the major FPS, MMO and Sport gaming brands would love to tap into and tons of players that would love to be able to play but do not have the luxury of being on the “grid”. So these suggestions are merely put in an educated layman’s perspective and are absolutely speculation on my part and anyone who is an expert, your expertise is welcomed.

    Generally the stutter and rubber banding is seen by broadband players when a server suddenly drops the connection and reestablishes it. Lets use FPS (CoD) for example, when a connection drop happens you may be running on your screen but the server doesn’t know it because of the temporary lapse of time for the server to restore the connection, so you are slung back to place on the map where the server last recognized your location. The server looks at high latency connections the same way, so players will notice some players stuttering around the map because the server is taking longer to communicate with the client (player) machine, when the lower latency client gets their “update” the player is not moving because the high latency client has not yet updated, so the high latency player is still at the same location that the server recognizes.

    That being said, I do not know if there is any development on the server hosting side for this or not, but if there is not here are a couple of solutions I suggest.

    1.) Dedicated High Latency Servers: Simply give them a port to assign to their console/computer that connects to servers that are setup to tolerate and adequately respond to the high latency. If a server is used by only high latency range players, there is no rubber banding or stutter, theoretically speaking.

    2.) Latency Matching: Another option could be, (again) theoretically, would be for the server to recognize the large variance in communication time to the clients and close the gap between broadband and satellite by slowing the refresh rate for low latency clients to match the high latency client. The result would be unnoticed for gameplay by either client, but people would all have high ping rates. This option may be an issue for graphics engines, but come on, they are developers, I am sure they could close that gap too.

    If there are any experts who stumble upon this please let me know if this is a flawed concept due to some variable I am not educated on.


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