Sony throttles PlayStation Store download speeds in Europe (updated)

Cal Jeffrey

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Staff member

Update (03/27/20): It probably comes as no surprise that Sony is expanding its efforts to minimize bandwidth by slowing or delaying downloads on PSN. In an update to its original blog post regarding the European initiative, the company said it would "take similar measures" in the US and thanked the community for its patience in the matter.

"Beginning today, we will take similar measures in the United States, and we will continue to take appropriate action to do our part to help ensure internet stability as this unprecedented situation continues to evolve. We are grateful for the role we play in helping deliver a sense of community and entertainment in these very trying times. Thank you again for your support, your patience, and for being part of the PlayStation community. Please stay home and stay safe."

The company maintains that online gaming speeds will remain constant.

Sony is the latest to begin throttling broadband usage in Europe due to stay-at-home orders caused by the coronavirus. Today the company announced it would limit PlayStation download speeds in the EU, adding that multiplayer gaming would remain unaffected.

“We believe it is important to do our part to address internet stability concerns as an unprecedented number of people are practicing social distancing and are becoming more reliant on internet access,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan. “Players may experience somewhat slower or delayed game downloads but will still enjoy robust gameplay.”

Netflix started the bandwidth-restricting ball rolling last week by dialing back streaming bitrates for at least 30 days at the urging of EU officials. Amazon and YouTube also got on board with the recommendations on Friday. Disney+ and Facebook have capitulated as well. While these restrictions are primarily limited to the EU and UK for now, YouTube announced today that it would be extending its throttling efforts worldwide.

Sony is the first company to take steps to cut game-related usage to help mitigate the increasing internet congestion brought on by social distancing and people working from home. It will be interesting to see if others follow suit.

While digital storefronts like Steam and Epic can reduce download rates without too much blowback, services like Stadia, GeForce Now, and other game-streaming platforms would be hard-pressed to reduce bandwidth. Streaming games is not the same as streaming video, and even a slight reduction in bitrate can lead to issues far beyond the scope of image quality.

So far, there are no indications that platforms like these are feeling pressure to minimize bandwidth, but things could change as the hysteria continues.

Masthead credit: oneinchpunch

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OortCloud

Posts: 359   +206
Big corporations seem to have generally acted pretty responsibly during this outbreak. We-the-people on the other hand - panic buying, failing to isolate, buying guns....
 

Evernessince

Posts: 4,985   +5,105
Big corporations seem to have generally acted pretty responsibly during this outbreak. We-the-people on the other hand - panic buying, failing to isolate, buying guns....
I'd say both have been pretty bad.

Throttling downloads isn't responsible, it's protecting their pocketbooks. The good guy play would be to pay for more cloud servers so that people continue to get good speeds.

Corps are also asking for 1.5 trillion in government handouts. I wouldn't call that responsible.

Comcast lifting caps on internet service when there shouldn't be caps in the first place. Yes, excuse them while they cover their rears from price gouging laws enacted during national emergencies.
 

Lounds

Posts: 408   +300
I'd say both have been pretty bad.

Throttling downloads isn't responsible, it's protecting their pocketbooks. The good guy play would be to pay for more cloud servers so that people continue to get good speeds.

Corps are also asking for 1.5 trillion in government handouts. I wouldn't call that responsible.

Comcast lifting caps on internet service when there shouldn't be caps in the first place. Yes, excuse them while they cover their rears from price gouging laws enacted during national emergencies.
Most ISP's in the UK have no data caps, the problem we have in the UK is an aging infrastructure cabling and lack of fiber, we could have been world leaders in networking but Thatcher destroyed that.
 
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Cal Jeffrey

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Sony have always had poor download speeds, can they actually limit it further?
I didn't mention it because I didn't want to turn the article into an opinion piece, but yeah I agree with you. I'm pretty sure they cap the speeds maybe at the NIC level. I have no proof of this other than the fact that running speed tests using both the built-in network tester and browser-based testers, I generally see results no higher than 150Mbps, while my laptop and other devices are pulling 250+.This is still generally good results and is plenty for online gaming as long as the servers aren't bogged down, but I find it sad that you can't seem to get the same throughput as you can with your PC.

While I don't have too much trouble with online gaming, what I find more annoying is the way the PS4 handles downloads. Downloads are extremely slow most of the time. What's worse is downloads are even slower if you are running a game, even if it is not an online game and even if it is just running in the background. Try it sometime. Start up a game, then go to the home screen and initiate a download and wait for the completion time to stabilize. Then go back to the running game thumbnail on the home screen, hold the Options button and close the game. Go check on the download and you should see a much shorter wait time. If not, pause the download, go to Settings>Network>Test Network Connection. Run the test, then go back and unpause the download. Wait for the completion clock to stabilize and you should see a vast improvement in download speed. Depending on the game running, I've seen it go from hours to minutes.

The question is Why? Why should it matter if I have an offline game suspended in the background? That game should NOT be using any bandwidth, but it appears to be, unless the slowdown is being caused by something hardware related. Even then, why would the console be designed to prioritize suspended games over the downloading of software?
 

OortCloud

Posts: 359   +206
While I don't have too much trouble with online gaming, what I find more annoying is the way the PS4 handles downloads. Downloads are extremely slow most of the time. What's worse is downloads are even slower if you are running a game.
I find even slower the unpacking etc that happens afterwards, when games updates arrive. I think the text reads something like 'Copying Update Files'. After really large updates this can take hours.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,647   +2,267
Just in time for those gigantic Call of Duty 2020 updates.

Took me 4 minutes to download 20GB, but I'm hearing PS4 users are facing even larger updates in some cases.
 

OptimumSlinky

Posts: 203   +378
I find even slower the unpacking etc that happens afterwards, when games updates arrive. I think the text reads something like 'Copying Update Files'. After really large updates this can take hours.
That's the result of the way PlayStation's OS handles compression and data storage.