The South African gaming scene is a rapidly growing phenomenon that has had some recent controversy revolving around support for local servers. Sure, having lower ping is a great experience but overall there is way more to look at, so let’s dive into the concept of South African dedicated servers and look at some of the good, and the bad, aspects of it all.
South African gaming has been plagued with connectivity problems and players experiencing high latency, even to servers hosted just a city away. Popular titles are launching on the global gaming market and every week we are greeted with a new “Bring <insert game name here> to South Africa” and it’s starting to rattle some nerves.
Before we dive into the realities we face as a gaming community, we need to first take a look at some examples of petitions and discussions that are brought up.
The Petitions and Discussions:
- Overwatch South African (African) Servers – Blizzard (Discussion)
- Investigate South African Peering Server Viability for all Blizzard games. (2,179 Supporters)
- PUBG – African Regional Server for PLAYERUNKNOWNS BATTLEGROUNDS (5 Supporters)
- H1Z1 KOTK South African Servers (136 Supporters)
- PUBG South African Server Request (845 Supporters)
- PUBG – Petition for African/South African server! (Discussion)
- Smite – Provide South African servers (391 Supporters)
- League of Legends – Give Africa a Server (2,019 Supporters)
All the above petitions and discussions are focused around getting a “better ping” in-game, which should be only one thing that players look at when diving into competitive play in particular. While ping can play a huge role in a player’s ability to succeed at multiplayer titles, this should not be the main focus of all these petitions as there are a lot of other aspects that the addition of local servers will not solve (and will actually just make worse).
To many gamer, having high latency is probably one of the most common rage-inducing aspects of gaming, and it is extremely frustrating to deal with (so much that we create petitions).
However, each game has its own take of “lag” or “high ping” which can be taken to different levels, each with their own unique twist so let’s have a look at some popular titles in today’s discussion, and which servers they have.
- Battlefield 1 – South African servers were introduced.
- Overwatch – South Africans play on European servers, sorted by lowest ping.
- League of Legends – Players get to choose their region, from European, American and Asian servers.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Players have a wide range of official and community run servers.
- Playerunknown’s Battleground – Players will be using mostly European and American hosted servers.
- H1Z1: King of the Kill – Players mostly play on European servers.
The Latency and Lag Effects:
As we mentioned in the previous topic, latency or more commonly ping affects each game on a different scale. For example, CS:GO is often unresponsive or feels “sluggish” once players experience a ping of more than 100ms, while games like Overwatch are totally responsive on a 180ms ping mark.
Sure, having the lowest latency possibly does mean that we can have faster responses in games like League of Legends, but often if you work on improving your gear, reaction time and predictions it will benefit you way more than simply getting a lower ping.
Local Servers: Good or Bad?
This brings us to the main topic of the whole article, which all revolves around the South African gaming community and what having a local server means for the title. The main point of argument and reason everybody brings up locals servers up is to lower the ping of the players.
Pros of having a local server:
- Lower Latency, a key issue in being able to play successfully in all of the FPS range games.
- We would be able to play against other South Africans, leaving us to judge how good we are on the local scale.
- We would experience a giant leap in game search time. One of the major enjoyments of the game is to simply spend a few seconds (15-40) to find a game, leaving you right in the action when you want a quick game.
- We would split the community as some players would want to play on the Europe servers anyway.
- Having a local server would once again separate us from the European and Global scene.
Wait time example – If we were to request servers for PUBG which generally requires around 30 players to experience a fully fledged and entertaining battle, we would be left with extremely painful wait times for a game. Sure there may be a thousand players, but these players might not be as active as we like to believe. Not to mention that nobody wants to wait an hour or more just to find a game.
Community Separation Example – If League of Legends got a South African server, chances are some of the “better players” would rather play on European servers to climb the global ladder, rather than sit with the smaller player base where everybody would be Master or Challenger. This means the community will be split into two parts, which benefits nobody.
The Verdict: Having a lower latency for any title is a nice thing to have, but players need to look at the greater picture for their respective titles.
Titles like Battlefield 1, PUBG, Overwatch and League of Legends aren’t as limited by high ping as other titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and the community should focus on growing the local talent rather than separating it from the global stage.
South Africans have finally got some titles that allow us to compete on the international stage, joining the world of esports like we have always dreamed about, and I personally see no reason for players that just want a lower ping to destroy that.
Tl;dr: Some games need local servers, others don’t. Put the community growth above blaming the latency as a limitation.