Low Bandwidth Online Games
March 7, 2010 12:39 AM   Subscribe

What online games (Starcraft 2, Online Poker, Online Chess, etc...) use little bandwidth?

I just moved overseas. The internet here is charged by use (not unlimited like the US). It costs about $0.50 per gigabyte transferred.

I enjoy relaxing with online games but I don't want to use a ton of bandwidth to do it. I do not have much preference on the game type. Chess, poker, FPS, RTS, whatever... it is all good to me.

What online games can I play that use little bandwidth?
posted by Spurious to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

According to this study of World of Warcraft's networking behavior (PDF warning), WoW pulls down about 7kps and and puts up about 2kps, so that's about 25MB/hr download- less than heavy web browsing, really.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:17 AM on March 7, 2010

Ah... MMORPGs (like WoW) are pretty bandwidth light while playing but they often download updates to the game which can easily run to multiple gigabytes.
posted by chairface at 1:28 AM on March 7, 2010

Text based games (MUDs) are pretty extremely low bandwidth. Here's a list, I recommend sticking in the top twenty at first as the quality drop-off is pretty drastic.
posted by anaelith at 1:58 AM on March 7, 2010

Starcraft 2 isn't out yet, if that helps.
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:59 AM on March 7, 2010

Solium Infernum is play-by-email and about as low-bandwidth as you can get. Here's a great post about it.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:06 AM on March 7, 2010

Most games use relatively low bandwidth during the actual gameplay, it's just little bits of data saying "here's how i'm moving, here's what actions i'm doing." I play TF2 and the data rate seems to stay under 30kb/s download and under 15 kb/s upload all the time. That translates to about 20 MB/hr. Even if you say 30 MB/hr, that's pretty reasonable. That's $.50 to be able to play it an hour every day for a month.

It really depends on how often the games you play would be updated. Even the most updated games have a 150 MB patch every so often or a 1.5GB patch biannually, so it's really not that big of a deal.
posted by JauntyFedora at 2:51 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Probably the Civilization series but I only play them on lan. Older fps's designed in the 56k era will be fine. Counter strike source or unreal tournament '99 are good bets.

Does your ISP host or have a free quota game service? That would probably be worth checking out.
posted by Submiqent at 3:15 AM on March 7, 2010

Civ IV might also be a good option, though as others have said it doesn't sound like you really need to worry much except in cases where games (especially MMORPGs) update themselves.

Civ can also be played via email, but I think that actually takes up more bandwidth because what happens is player 1 emails player 2 a password-protected save file, which player 2 unlocks to play her turn, then emailing it to player 3, and so on. Presumably the save file would contain information about every unit and city, not just the ones which have moved/changed.
posted by carnival of animals at 3:21 AM on March 7, 2010

Anything you can play by email is probably going to be pretty light on the bandwidth usage, or, at least, you'll know exactly how much you're using by the size of the files.

But as mentioned above, most online games use relatively little bandwidth for the actual playing. But updates can be a real bear. Depending on their patching cycle, patch and update downloads could easily take several times as much total bandwidth as playing the game does. Some of them make you download the client too, which can be 1-2GB right there.
posted by valkyryn at 9:53 AM on March 7, 2010

Diplomacy as a play by email game.
posted by fings at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2010

Get a program like Networx (portable version) to actually measure these things.

If you're complaining about $0.50 per gigabyte, I assume you're not looking for pay-to-play games, and +1 to the guys who say that downloading the game is what's going to be expensive, not the actual play.

PortableApps.com has some small-to-download + free-to-play video games, including MMORPG, FPS and RTS.

Wikipedia has a list of free MMORPGs.
posted by MesoFilter at 9:47 PM on March 8, 2010

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