I spotted an odd bit of news earlier today about the PC
release of "Titanfall," in that it would represent around a 22 gigabyte download, and an even bigger installation thanks to the use of uncompressed audio. And after having examined some of the other games going on of late, it's started to make me think: are games getting too big for our own good?
A 22 gigabyte download, just for one game. That alone is kind of staggering when you think about it. Granted, it's showing in an impressive resolution--792p at last report for Xbox One
, and that number is, based on reports, "likely to increase"--and offering some staggering gameplay, but 22 gigabytes for one game download is a staggering number. But there was also a 13 gigabyte patch weighing in for "Dead Rising 3." For a 25.6 Mpbs connection, according to the Numion download calculator, that would take right around eight hours and 40 minutes. Meanwhile, the Ookla Net Index puts the average household download speed in the United States as somewhere around 21.9 Mbps.
An eight hour download, just to get "Titanfall." The "Dead Rising 3" patch would take a little over an hour at 25.6. We're talking about multiple hours of downloading for one game, and better than an hour at speeds many households in the United States can only sigh wistfully over just to patch a game commercially available. This is, in a nutshell, exactly why everyone had such a fit back at E3 when Microsoft was at least somewhat looking to do away with the disc. Sure, there were other reasons, but a lot of people were looking at what connections they had--many of which were either terrifyingly slow, bandwidth-capped, or even both at the same time--and realizing said connections were woefully underpowered to do that which Microsoft wanted to do. And that might well have cost gamers an entire generation of games.
Even now we're seeing what kind of impact this has. The games are getting bigger--a sheer necessity to provide those improved images and those superior play mechanics and such--but connections aren't getting faster. I've personally been catching up on Xbox 360 downloads; they're almost heartbreakingly cheap these days, so grabbing a few during the increasing number of sales Microsoft's been running of late has been surprisingly easy to justify. It still takes quite a chunk out of the day to even get these older games in place, and that's somewhat distressing.
While Microsoft's vision of a discless, all-download future was valiant enough, it simply failed to acknowledge the issues that many people face every day. In large parts of the United States, the arrival of a three megabit connection is cause for celebration. Many places are left with less than that, or satellite access that may provide 10 megabit speeds but cap its activity at 25 gigabytes a month, making just the patch for "Dead Rising 3" difficult to get, and the "Titanfall" download impossible unless it's all that's done in the month.
In a world where everyone has a breed of Google Fiber
or its analogue--a minimum of five megabit download with no cap--then Microsoft's discless future makes sense. Then the idea of downloading "Titanfall" and huge patches for "Dead Rising 3" makes sense. Until then, it just doesn't fly, and game makers need to be cognizant of this. There's a big market out there that can't game much online, and accommodating this market will likely yield a healthy batch of loyal customers. That's vital in any point in business, and especially so these days.