Netflix to offer video games, does it change your broadband needs?
Netflix has revealed plans to offer video games to its customers alongside its existing content. With reports suggesting the video games are planned to join Netflix’s other content within a year at no extra cost to subscribers, those planning to take advantage of the added goods might need to take a second look at their broadband plan.
While the streamer currently offers a few ‘interactive’ offerings, the recent hiring of a former Facebook and Electronic Arts executive as ‘vice president of game development’ gives the impression Netflix is looking to produce its own video games. This move sits outside of the interactive television genre they’ve previously delved into.
Whether the company will rely only on their own game offerings or license content similar to their film/tv library remains to be seen, as does the size and scope of the video games they plan to produce.
How much data will I need for Netflix games?
It’s unclear as of now whether Netflix plans on allowing users to download the games it has on offer, or whether they will rely on cloud streaming, as with its current catalogue of film and television. But either way download speeds and data caps may become more important to those looking to take part.
The size and scope of the game offerings will play a big part as well, which is currently a mystery. Think of it like this: it would take a lot less to stream a game like ‘Pacman’ from Netflix than the last ‘Call of Duty’. For a bit of context of just how much data Netflix uses at the moment however, we can check out its video stats.
A standard definition video stream from Netflix uses 0.7Gb-1Gb per device per hour, while an HD stream uses up to 3Gb. Those watching in Ultra high definition (4K) will use up to 7Gb data per device per hour.
If you’ve got an internet plan that caps your data usage at 100Gb per month, for example, those high definition streams are going to take a big chunk of your usage each hour.
In terms of games, there’s a whole range of data that could be required depending on the graphics and gameplay of the title. Some existing cloud gaming services such as Amazon Luna and Google Stadia require around 10-15Gb of bandwidth per hour while streaming at 1080p (HD) resolution, significantly more than Netflix’s film and TV offerings. Knocking the resolution up to 4K on those cloud streaming platforms can see 20-30Gb of bandwidth usage per hour.
What about NBN speeds?
A 7-Gigabyte per hour stream, as you’d see with a 4K viewing, comes out to about 15.5mbps. If you’re on an NBN12 plan, you’ll probably find you wouldn’t be able to watch a stream like this without buffering or letting the program load ahead of time.
That 15.5mbps usage required for a steady 4K stream on Netflix will also be relying on what speed it can draw from your internet connection. Just because you have an NBN25 or NBN50 plan doesn’t mean you can access that 15.5mbps required for a 4K stream as you will have your available speed headed to all of your connected devices using the internet at the time. This means phones, laptops, computers, wifi speakers, other televisions and any other internet-enabled device connected to your home internet will be using some of your download speed and impacting how stable your stream could be.
If we put some of those existing cloud platforms into the calculation, we’ll see a 15Gb per hour game stream in 1080p would require a steady speed of 33.3mbps. It’s yet to be seen if Netflix’s video game offerings will need that much data and speed when they launch, but it’s something worth keeping in mind.
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