How Much Data Does Online Gaming Use?

Online gaming might use less data than streaming, but you can’t go wrong with an unlimited data internet plan.

Ever wondered how much data a video game uses when you’re playing online? Online games are constantly downloading as you play and, depending on your internet plan and the game, can be quite a drain on your data usage. Even if you primarily play single-player games, there’s also the patches and updates to download, plus any DLC you might have bought. Or, if you like to buy your games digitally, you might even need to download the entire game, which can easily be dozens of gigabytes in size.

Whether you’re on an nbn™ plan or not, it’s worth considering just how much data your games are using. Of course, if you’re on an unlimited data internet plan, you don’t have to worry about slowdowns or paying more just because of your data usage.

Online Game Examples

According to a report done by comparison service WhistleOut, online games can vary widely in their data usage. Fortnite, DOTA 2, Overwatch and Warframe all use around about 100MB per hour of play. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Destiny 2 top the list at 300MB and 250MB per hour respectively, while World of Warcraft, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Rocket League are towards the bottom at 40MB each. Other popular games, like Team Fortress 2, League of Legends and Rainbow Six Siege all track in at between 50MB and 100MB of data per hour.

Obviously, these numbers can vary depending on what you’re doing in the game. If you’re playing with a larger group of people or entering new areas for the first time then your data usage can easily go above the averages.

What About Downloading Patches or Updates?

These days, most games require patches or updates over the course of their lives, sometimes even on the day of their release (called Day 1 patches). This can be true whether you’re playing an online game like an MMO or any genre of single-player offline game. The size of a patch can vary from a few megabytes up to dozens of gigabytes, depending on whether the update is a simple bugfix or includes additional content. In most cases, you can check the size of a patch before you download it. For offline games, patches are often optional too, though they typically include important changes that improve the quality of the game.

If you’ve purchased a game digitally, rather than on a disc from a store, you’ll have to download the entire thing first. Again, this will vary between games, but the latest AAA titles often use 30, 40, or even more than 50GB of data. Smaller indie titles might need less than 1GB.

How Do Games Compare to Video Streaming?

Perhaps surprisingly, online games typically use significantly less data than streaming video online. According to report from January 2018 by NBN Co, popular video streaming services like YouTube, Stan and Netflix can easily use between 1-3GB per hour, for example. Compared to these numbers, the megabytes used by online games are less significant.

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