SamKnows has been testing the performance of individual games since early 2021. That meant SamKnows had the unique insight required to help Saudi Arabia identify why games performance in the Kingdom wasn’t as strong as it could be. And it had nothing to do with the raw broadband speed.
SamKnows puts huge effort into identifying individual games servers and ensuring its tests mirror the experience of players (as Jamie Mason explains on the podcast that accompanies this issue). “Big companies will often have their own international network,” said Jamie Mason, head of measurement support at SamKnows. “For example, Riot – which publishes and produces League of Legends – has its own Riot network, which means it’s in full control of international routing between data centres across the globe.”
Other games companies may rely on multinational cloud providers to host their games servers. Some may simply operate their own servers in selected regions.
SamKnows tests the performance of these games servers from the user’s location. With this testing capability already in its portfolio, SamKnows was able to identify that games performance in the Kingdom was suffering because many of the popular games didn’t have a server presence in Saudi or even the Middle East. In fact, Saudi players were often being routed to servers in Europe, particularly France.
League of Legends needs low latency
That put Saudi gamers at a big disadvantage, especially when it comes to fast-moving action games such as Fortnite or FIFA. “It doesn’t really matter how good your connection is, if you’re connecting to a server that’s a very, very long way away, the natural limitations of how the internet works and how networks communicate mean that you’re always going to have some level of high latency,” explained Jamie Mason.
This was clearly a pain point for Saudi games, because when the Meqyas report began to include information on games performance, it attracted huge interest in the Kingdom. “We saw the interaction with the report increased by orders of magnitude,” said Dr Ahmed.
“We also saw at the same time the impact on performance once operators started to pay attention to gaming.”