Deep in the woods of rural Maryland may seem an unlikely place for an online video gaming experiment, but for Matt Ahern, that’s just the way it is. An Exede Internet customer of about a year, Ahern is also an avid gamer, and he had the same question many gamers have about satellite internet: How well does it work for gaming?
The answer, Ahern has found, is “better than you might think.” Here at Exede, we’re very careful to tell potential subscribers that online gaming is one of the things that may not work well with satellite internet. That’s due in large part to latency, which is a measure of the time it takes for the signal to go up to our satellite and back down to your computer. Many games — particularly fast-twitch shooters and multiplayer action games — can be glitchy over satellite. So the experience can range from pretty good, to somewhat sketchy, to just plain bad.
Ahern, a freelance graphic designer, was looking for more information about what games would work with his Exede service, and he decided the best way to find out was to just jump in and try some himself. Along the way, he started sharing his gameplay on his MakoRuu YouTube page.
(Note: Ahern’s page is his own. You may encounter language or content there that isn’t endorsed by Exede.)
“I knew satellite internet would be OK for certain games,” Ahern said in a Skype call over Exede. “I was amazed at how well Star Wars Battlefront plays; it’s pretty smooth.”
While noting that fast-twitch shooters like Call of Duty or Counter-Strike do indeed suffer from latency, he said that some such games can still be quite playable.
“You’ll notice things like a short delay between when you press the button and something happens,” he said. “If I fire a gun or swing a sword, there’s a quarter-second delay you have to get used to.”
Some of the games Ahern has reviewed with decent results on his YouTube page include Warframe, Tom Clancy’s The Division, Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
As for data consumption, Ahern notes again that it depends on the game. He said he’s monitored usage for a variety of online games and finds many use less than 20 MB an hour.
“A lot of games are just sending little packets of statistical information that don’t add up to much usage; the game itself is on your computer,” he said.
Other types of games can be more data-intensive. Ahern said you can use 2-3 GB an hour playing a game like RuneScape. If you’re looking to get an idea of how much data a particular game uses, Googling “data usage on (name of game)” may give you some answers.
While we still strongly caution gamers not to expect stellar performance with online games over Exede (or any satellite internet service), some titles appear to work better than others. In addition to Ahern’s videos and our own Help Center list of games we tested during the last console generation, looking on the game maker’s website or related forums to see the latency requirements can give you an idea how a game might perform. The latency on Exede is typically 600-800 milliseconds.
That’s better than some DSL services, Ahern noted, and good enough for a lot of games.
“Satellite has come a long way,” he said. “Exede has been good to me.”