If you don’t live in Australia, or you do and are just unaware, let me tell you our internet situation is a complete and total dumpster fire.
For decades we’ve been running on an ageing copper network that was not designed for the levels of internet traffic we now demand on a daily basis. In an effort to rectify this, our Labor and Liberal governments have been arguing over the past decade whether to install a more expensive but technologically superior fibre optics network (Labor) or a cheaper, mixed technology upgrade that is already outdated and four times slower than the former (Liberal).
The kicker? After the Liberal government came into power in 2013, they’ve been fucking around for so long that their inferior network will now cost as much, if not more, than the original fibre optics plan. No wonder they’re okay with the Australian Federal Police hunting down whoever told on them.
Now having high speed internet in this day and age is invaluable to a country’s economy and society, but I realised it would also alleviate another issue that hadn’t occurred to me until I tried to boot up Halo 5: Guardians last night. The issue: in this time of video games and constant updates/patches, going back and checking out missed titles without good internet is one heck of a pain in the arse.
You see, I bought an Xbox One S earlier this week, my first ever Xbox console. It was a big moment for me, I was jumping into a console space I had only experienced the fringes of, having never actually had one to use in my own leisure time. I was excited, and the first game I decided to pick up was Halo 5 as I was a fan of the original game and after reading Charlie’s glowing review I knew I was in for a treat.
So I turned on my Xbox, popped the disc in and let it begin installing. While the 20 plus years of being a Playstation fanboy in me was cursing the lengthy installation time, suddenly a message popped up that made me choke on my beverage. I took a screenshot, because my lord this needed to be documented:
41.3 GB of updates. That’s almost the entire goddamn game’s worth of data. On my 12mbps ADSL2+ connection that would take a bloody long time. As in days.
Now, downloads of this size aren’t anything new to people buying games digitally, and to anyone who bought Halo 5 on launch these updates would have most likely been trickle fed to them over the past 10 months. But to someone like me, a new Xbox One owner wanting to go back through the exclusives catalogue, it’s a daunting prospect.
Yes, most of those updates would be for the online component of the game and I could probably just hop on the single player without much trouble, but what if there were serious optimisation issues on the physical disc version of the game? There would be patches buried in that 41.3 GB that fix them, giving me the intended game experience. But without a means to pick and choose my updates and only get the ones I need, then I’m going to have to get the whole lot on my shonky, ‘Strayan internet connection.
It makes me think of someone who wants to jump on and check out Overwatch in a year’s time, and the sheer volume of patches and updates they’ll have to sit through before getting to play the damn thing, while the rest of us have had them served in small chunks because we bought it earlier. It seems that unless we Australian’s buy our video games on launch, or until we fix our internet infrastructure, we’re doomed to the long wait to download updates.
This may seem like the very definition of a “first world problem”, but the reality is that for most of the first world this isn’t a goddamn problem.