Warning: this article contains poorly written journalism, opinions that may differ from your own, and strong feelings. Read at your own risk!
If you know anything at all about me, or if you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’re likely more than aware of just how much I love playing video games. Hell, I used to (and still do, to some regard) run a website called Gaming Rant, which was almost entirely dedicated to gaming editorials. Since 2010, I’ve been actively writing game focused articles, rants, and editorials covering multiple aspects of the video game industry. I covered news stories, reported on rumours, and provided as much unbiased information as I possibly could. Before I knew it, my words were being read by thousands of people from all around the world.
Of course my readership has since declined, which was why I decided to go off and do my own personal thing, in the form of this here blog. Needless to say, I’ve been covering this industry for a very long time, and am passionate about games. But sometimes, just sometimes, I find myself scratching my head, and in need of an outlet of which to express my thoughts. This is that outlet, and you are my soundboard. So please, listen carefully, for I’m about to rant.
You see, the internet is something that I know quite a bit about. It’s my job, actually. Things like network management and server administration are a part of my daily duties. So when things aren’t working entirely as they should, I tend to take notice of it, and speak out through various means. (ie. ranting to Steam friends) Unfortunately, one such thing that has been causing me constant headaches is the PlayStation Network, and Sony’s current stance of downright denying that a problem exists.
To put it simply, the PlayStation Network is severely congested. To help maintain the integrity of their network, Sony has seemingly opted to apply a virtual limit on how much networking bandwidth you’re permitted to use at any given time. This is called traffic shaping, which is very similar to throttling, and operates as a QoS (quality of service) function to maintain network reliability. While this reduces server costs and general network usage over at Sony’s end, it also negatively impacts consumers that have high speed internet connections.
Sony is slowing down your access to the PlayStation Network, to save them money.
The PlayStation 4 is significantly slower than the Xbox One and Windows PC, as shown below.
Now, I’ve all but accepted that I’m going to receive a lesser networking service while using a PlayStation device. I also fully understand why Sony is utilizing traffic shaping as QoS, and while the slower nature of PSN is definitely an inconvenience, it’s something that ultimately had to be implemented to ensure a reliable Network.
See, no one could have predicted that Sony would have 30 million units sold within its first two years of market. It took the PS4 only sixteen months to sell 22 million units. Comparatively, it took the PS3 thirty months to accomplish the same, while the Xbox One has yet to reach those figures at all. To add to that, every single month several million new PS4’s are sold, which puts quite a bit of stress on PSN’s servers.
I mean, can you honestly blame them for not having a Network that’s capable of sustaining tens of millions of concurrent gamers? Because I can’t. Hell, if anything, I pity Sony. They’re handling this as best as they can, and they have some of the best networking engineers in the world working under them.
Confused, aren’t you? Here I am, writing up an article that seemingly bashes upon Sony and the PlayStation Network, only to basically praise them in the end? So if I’m not here to bash PSN, why am I writing up this article, and why do I apparently hate PlayStation?
Unfortunately, the answer to that is simple.
We’re being lied to
The fact is, Sony is outright denying that they’re doing any kind of traffic shaping, or other Quality of Service techniques. The fact that downloading on the PlayStation 4 is significantly slower than downloading off of another service, like Xbox Live or Steam, all but confirms some level of Quality of Service implementation. Yet, no one at Sony is willing to admit that these (common) practices are being used. They’re keeping it a secret, and when you ask a Sony representative, they deny it. It’s not a “we can’t confirm or deny” statement, but a pure denial.
Worst yet, if you dare mention the slow state of the PlayStation Network over on the official PlayStation Support Forums, you’ll be greeted by some rather abusive or otherwise snarky individuals trying to defend Sony by passing the blame onto you, or your internet service provider, or your networking hardware, or your computer, or your cat, or your dog, or whatever else they can think of. If that doesn’t work, they’ll also tell you that the “network test is an estimate”, and not a “true result”. To be entirely fair, that statement is in fact accurate. Every single connection test I’ve ever run on the PS4 gives a download speed of between 55 and 75 Mbps. However, the maximum download of an actual game or file was just over 80 Mbps, which is 10 MB/s. That’s a 68% difference.
Anyway, it’s this kind of blind loyalty that really irks me, and the fact that Sony has done nothing to publicly address this problem speaks numbers for the company, and the services that they host or represent. It makes me question their integrity and ethical viewpoints.
Oh, and if you’re one of those that assumes PSN operates out of Japan, and only Japan, and has no download servers anywhere else but Japan, I also did a speedtest from a computer to a Japanese hosted server.
While the ping is quite obviously high, the internet download and upload speeds both vastly exceed what the PlayStation Network is capable of providing, even at its maximum speed.
Remember, in my testing, the PlayStation Network has a real world download speed of 10 MB/s, which is equal to 80 Mbps. Even if the server were truly hosted in Japan, which is on the other side of the world from me, PSN is still operating at a slower than expected speed.
Of course, North America has its own PlayStation Network infrastructure, as does Europe and Asia. So, the very idea of the download somehow originating from Japan is absolutely silly and extremely unlikely. However, I figured that I would test it anyway, since (not too surprisingly) some PS Forum members seem to believe that the test and download servers originate outside of North America.
It’s all secrets and lies, Gummy. Both from Sony themselves, and PlayStation users. It’s just a giant field of unending lies and misinformation. And that’s ultimately what I hate about PlayStation.
That doesn’t mean that I hate the PlayStation 4. It’s a fantastic console, even with its current limitations and missing features. I suppose, my main distaste is with fanboys, and how they blindly defend their brand, going so far as to make up excuses, or pass the blame elsewhere.
Then again, Sony appears to be doing the same thing, at least in regard to their PlayStation Network.