This guide will show that gaming on the road is definitely possible, even with the limitations of mobile internet. We'll give you the information you need to avoid the major pitfalls and share our tips to make your gaming experience enjoyable.
In this guide you will learn:
- The critical differences between gaming on wired home internet and mobile internet.
- How to make mobile internet work for different types of games on PC and consoles.
- How to monitor and manage bandwidth usage for online gaming.
- How to manage game patches and patch/launch software including via Steam, XBox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
Many other tips, tricks and information will be covered including:
Online Gaming on the Road Overview
As with so many other aspects of mobile internet, what you need to successfully game online will depend on a host of factors which we explain in this guide. Although there will be times when some games can't be played, or can't be played enjoyably, in most cases mobile online gaming isn't as difficult or expensive as you might believe.
Flexibility is a key part of a travel lifestyle - and this includes being flexible around what you play online, and when.
In today's connected world, there are many options for accessing the internet while traveling but they often are, from a gaming perspective, quite different than what is available on a wired home connection.
Mobile internet options are definitely more complicated, and potentially more expensive, than a home wired internet connection and can pose technical challenges to enjoyable gameplay. These challenges are different from other mobile internet uses, like websurfing and video.
This guide will give you the information you need to navigate these challenges and make mobile gaming a part of your travel lifestyle.
Let's get started!
In this Guide:
- Online Gaming Technology, A Primer (member only)
- Latency and Bandwidth for Online Gaming (member only)
- Mobile Connectivity Options for Gaming
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Game Platform Overview
Video games are a huge and growing market and, with advances in technology, games are more diverse than ever in terms of gameplay, interactivity and platform. Almost all games now come with an online play mode, and many games today require internet connectivity even for single-player gameplay as well as for patching and authentication.
Gaming platforms are also more diverse than ever and include everything from handheld devices to consoles to smart TVs. Below is a list gaming platforms in rough order of popularity:
- PC: Games that run on an actual computer, usually Windows, but also sometimes Mac and Linux. Included in this category are games designed to run in a web browser.
- Console: A dedicated gaming system like Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation, or Nintendo Switch. Modern consoles have advanced features that expand their capabilities outside gaming.
- Smartphone/Tablet: Games that can be played via an app. Although only a decade old, this category is seeing massive growth.
- Cloud Games: Also called Gaming-on-Demand. This relatively new category works like cloud computing. Everything in the game takes place on a central server which streams the gameplay to the player through a simple interface. These games are platform independent, and usually only require purchasing a controller. The downside is they consume a LOT of bandwidth. This could be the future of gaming since adanced games can be played on inexpensive hardware.
- Other Options: Handheld devices, VR Headsets, and non-gaming devices like Smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku and other internet-connected devices are all increasingly popular gaming options.
Assembling Your Arsenal - Mobile Connectivity Options for Gaming
Assessing Your Mobile Internet Gaming Needs
There are so many factors that go into mobile internet gaming that it's not possible to give definitive guidance for every mobile gamer, but we'll present some guidelines and options to consider when analyzing what will work best for your particular needs. When planning your setup you'll need to consider the following factors and weigh their importance:
- Travel Frequency - Do you plan to move every day? Week? Month? Or will you stay somewhere longer term? Moving often means more variability in your connection. Staying somewhere long-term opens up options like ordering wired internet service at your location, or optimizing your connectivity.
- Travel Location - Where will you travel and what options are available in those locations?
- If you stay close to cities you'll have more options for both cellular service and Wi-Fi, but may encounter congested towers with slower speeds available.
- If you stay in the boonies you may have only have one or even no options available, but you may also occasionally find blazing fast uncongested cellular towers.
- Type and number of gaming devices you need to support. The more diversity you have, the more data you'll need to keep your games current and the more complexity you'll have in managing everything. A large gaming library requires more frequent patches.
- Organized clan/team play. Do you need to play on a schedule and/or on specific servers? Mobile gaming can be a challenge if you play competitively or as part of a dedicated group on a fixed schedule. Making it work will require a lot of prior planning to ensure you have the connection you need when and where you need it. We recommend arriving to your next location in plenty of time to test out your options before you're expected to log in.
- Number and types of games you play. Your gaming library and interests will drive how much data you'll need for patches and how sensitive you are to latency. A gamer who plays one game consistently will have different needs than a gamer who buys new titles every month.
- Gaming services. Consider what services you use and how they affect your needs. The needs for a basic gamer are very different than for someone who plays near full-time or streams live on Twitch.
A bigger budget will afford more options and give your travel and gaming lifestyle more flexibility. But a big budget isn't necessary to make gaming a reality in most cases. Consider your gaming needs in line with your other internet needs and the needs of the others you travel with. In many cases your general mobile internet plan will work for your gaming needs or can be supplemented for minimal cost. A bigger budget can also buy redundancy which is always valuable when it comes to mobile internet.
Additional Member Only Content
If you're a MIA member, please log in to see the rest of this guide - which contains additional information on the gaming configurations (dedicated servers and peer-to-peer) latency & bandwidth requirements, mobile internet options, VPNs and more.
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