Ever since iso began, there’s been a constant thorn in the side of Australian ISPs: Call of Duty updates. But when you pair Call of Duty with a new seasonal update for Fortnite, well … things can get a bit out of hand.
In a blog post from local ISPs Aussie Broadband, managing director Phil Britt revealed that the company often sees 200 gigabytes to 300 gigabytes more usage “at 4pm on the day updates are released”. That’s fairly commonplace now, but when Call of Duty pushed out its Season 5 Warzone patch the same day as Fortnite‘s latest season, the combination of the two caused Aussie Broadband’s network to “flatline”:
[On that night] we saw a large number of our CVCs flatline (capacity maxed and speeds start to slow) as a result,” said Phil. We already have nbn’s 40% boost provisioned across the network. But because two popular games released at the same time, combined with the already higher usage due to stay at home restrictions, saw bandwidth well exceed this and created the highest bandwidth event we have ever seen on the network.
“Whilst we always over-provision CVC and ensure there is enough capacity, on update nights you might see a slight dip in the speeds you are used to,” Aussie Broadband added.
Call of Duty: Warzone was responsible for network highs across the NBN earlier this year, so much so that even NBN Co publicly called out the game for traffic spikes.
The blog post was designed to highlight how major gaming updates can cause slowdown on an ISPs network. “The problem is that if game developers don’t give us (and all ISPs) better ways to receive and distribute the data (i.e. another freeway), then all ISPs are at the mercy of how busy that one freeway is,” Aussie Broadband said.
Fortunately, the situation should be easier in the future. Aussie Broadband’s post says CenturyLink, which supplies international capacity, has provided another 100 gigabyte port to the ISP. Correction 2:30pm AEST: Aussie Broadband has gotten in touch to clarify that the CenturyLink 200G link “isn’t directly to us” but rather Activision-Blizzard’s connection to Australia.
“The CenturyLink 200G line isn’t directly to us, it’s how Activision-Blizzard deliver their data to Australia so all ISPs can access it,” an Aussie Broadband representative explained, adding that CenturyLink upgraded their 100Gbps link to 200Gbps as a result of the demand from Call of Duty updates.
Along with the extra capacity to Australia, users downloading any updates for Call of Duty, or any Activision-Blizzard game (Overwatch, World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, and so on) will be redirected to a private network interface:
We’re arranging a 2 x 100G private network interface (PNI) directly to Activision-Blizzard. Our customers will be directed to the dedicated link for us, which will improve the speeds of everyone’s download, whether your connected to the PNI or CenturyLink’s 200G link.
The idea is that gaming updates shouldn’t choke the entirety of the Aussie Broadband network — although, of course, if something like Fortnite patches the same day everyone downloads Cyberpunk 2077 … well, Aussie Broadband are going to need a few more PNI’s.
And as a reminder of just how large a pain in the arse Call of Duty updates are for the NBN, please enjoy the only quote on record of NBN Co complaining about Warzone patches:
We see these patches come out consistently. Last week Call of Duty came out with their patch that was a 32 gig file and, being a gamer myself, when you get home and you sit on the couch and break out your beverage of choice, and you go to play the game, and then it packed up and says, ‘Well, no, you’ve got to upgrade.’ You can’t play. You’ve got to wait until you’ve downloaded the new patch. Even on a 50Mbps service, that would take about an hour and 45 minutes to get that game downloaded. If you’re Ultrafast, that’s somewhere between five and 10 minutes – and that’s a completely different experience.