Managing Bandwidth in Large-Scale Games

Large-scale online games and virtual environments feature highly variable bandwidth needs, due to many factors (popular in-game events attracting more players, concentrated regions of high interest) [1].

In some contexts, restricting the delivery of messages in order to reduce bandwidth might be an acceptable tradeoff as long as experienced quality is maintained. For instance, in the context of games, it might be acceptable to reduce the frequency of state update messages for players located far apart in a given player’s vision range.


As part of the DynFilter project [2], we developed a specialized publish/subscribed-based middleware and an algorithm to automatically reduce the frequency of publication messages that are received by any in-game player, whenever required, with a very minimal impact on experienced gameplay quality.

The algorithm limits overall bandwidth usage to a predefined quota, over a given period. Filtering levels are done on a per-region basis and are done only for remotely-located players and are continuously updated in real-time based on observed load in order to ensure that quotas are respected.

Results showed that DynFilter was able to attain significant bandwidth savings (35%-45%) with minimal impact on gameplay quality, which could lead to significant costs savings.

[1] Tarng, P.Y., Chen, K.T., Huang, P.: An analysis of wow players’ game hours. In: NetGames 2008. pp. 47–52 (2008)

[2] Gascon-Samson, J., Kienzle, J., Kemme, B. (2015) DynFilter: Limiting Bandwidth of Online Games using Adaptive Pub/Sub Message Filtering, Annual Workshop on Network and Systems Support for Games (NetGames 2015), Zagreb, Croatia