Surely it’s time for more local servers?

6 min read
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It’s 2017 and that means it’s time to open the local server debate once again. If we look back at 2016 we can pinpoint a few moments where there was promise regarding servers and a large one being the visit from Riot Games. In the end Riot Games declared we are not ready for local servers and this of course upset a few people. Their decision was justified as South Africa still lacks a the player base to warrant such an investment, and yes bringing local servers is quite an expensive endeavour.

On the other hand, Overwatch launched and South Africa went through the five-stages of grief with regard to local servers for Overwatch. They are, of course, hope, denial, anger, disbelief and petitions. That’s right, the expected “sign this petition so Blizzard can give us servers” did the rounds, again, and to no surprise nothing solid came of it. So why don’t we have servers, and do we really want them?

Nobody cares about us

This is the feeling people get when it comes to pleading for local servers. Some gamers feel we’re forgotten since our gaming scene is not that big. This is true to some extent, but the issue is not only with player-base but also infrastructure. Installation, upkeep and maintenance is extremely costly for these companies and while they can trust some South African ISPs to hold down the fort, bigger companies need their own facilities to properly run their local servers. With Valve it was simple, they bought some equipment and let local ISPs run the show. When it comes to Blizzard and Riot Games things are a little more complicated as both companies would need their own branch in South Africa which would cost them an arm and a leg only to cater to a player-base smaller than that seen in one European state. “But, Australia has servers?” Yes, they do, but those servers also cater for the entire Oceania region, not just Australia.

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This is the next big issue, our location. We’re deep south, surrounded by water, and the rest of Africa up North is not as large as the regions surround the EU, Australia and the Americas. Their player-base is ten times as big as ours. Bringing that infrastructure down here will serve South Africa and some close African regions which aren’t that big into gaming besides a few small, dedicated communities.

Do we need/want them?

This is the ongoing debate amongst some circles, the fact that some people feel we don’t need local servers as the exposure to Europe helps close the skill gap while others argue that it will bring more players who have given up due to being incapable of playing on European servers. While both these arguments hold validity, it’s worth touching on them a bit more. Take CS:GO for example. It has local matchmaking and local competitive servers which are privately hosted. Our CS:GO has actually gotten a lot better with very little exposure to Europe. Yes, a few teams head across every now and then and bring back some skill, but that scene has grown organically. Next let’s take League of Legends where the topic of local servers is possibly brought up the most. League of Legends players play exclusively on European servers, so naturally they’d be pretty decent? Wrong. While some players show off some serious skill the lack of local lobbies makes for an extremely poor competitive environment rendering the game almost useless when looking at local growth.

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Dota 2 almost got it right, but the exposure to Europe only got us so far and as soon as local servers arrived we found ourselves back at square one where little to no growth was made to close that skill gap. Dota 2’s competitive environment has also slowed down a bit over the past few years with tournament hosts placing focus on CS:GO. Dota 2 is our only real example of what happens when we get local servers – nobody wants to expose themselves to Europe anymore. I also often bring up the skill jump from Dota 1 to 2 when local players were forced to play on EU, but now we’re stuck playing local matchmaking and we’ve seen very little growth in the past few years.

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Do you think it’s time we got more local servers, or are you happy that we’re finally seeing some real growth?

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Last Updated: February 15, 2017

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Kyle Wolmarans

Critical Hit's esports guy. I talk about esports and drink whiskey. I also write and cast for Orena - but my work here is independent of that.

  • HvR

    This conversation also seem to go in circles:
    Please sir can we some servers? NO!!!
    Please sir can you open up the system to allow private servers? NO!!!!!
    Well, as noodle master Geoff says…
    https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/182022080508723200/281404231385219083/Oddsock_3.gif

  • While we are on the subject of local servers. Battlefield 1 SA servers “early 2017″…it is early 2017 right now and we have not heard anything about that since the announcement.

    • Skittle

      Are they really necessary though?

      • Yes. In the beginning you don’t really notice it. But soon you start to notice you get a shot of at someone at the same time they shoot, but you will be the one that dies and your bullet that should be in the air just goes poof.

        • schitsophrenic-toothbrush

          Been jamming the short campaign now and want to try and play online but waiting for local servers, heard it should be released just before the next update with the new DLC. So I can only assume late Feb early March, but I am guestimating.

          • Coolio. Thanks for the info

        • Skittle

          I will start paying attention and see if I can spot it. Is the local B1 community large enough to justify local servers?

    • HairyEwok

      I’ve learned that with gaming you should never get your hopes up when a developer promises something for a specific date.

  • MonsterCheddar

    Well, duh.

  • PurplePariah

    Overwatch doesn’t feel the 180ms. MMOs don’t feel the 180ms. And the 180ms is only an issue in competitive MOBA and FPS games (the ones without great net code). For the rest of us, 180ms is nothing. The cost to bring that down vs the actual benefit, the gap is just too big. Local servers will not happen until we get more competitive and grow, ourselves, and show that there’s actual value in local servers. Shouting about it and signing petitions won’t change the black & white.

    • miaau

      Best I got on my Xbox, testing Xbox Live, is 300ms. And MMO’s and the like work just fine

      Is 180ms on PC to European based servers?

      • PurplePariah

        yup. Battlefield to London often sits at 210, but 180 is the average for me personally. I can’t get better than 165 or so though, just due to distance. And that’s max, which never happens.

        Also Xbox is 300? MS need to sort their shit out.

        • miaau

          I read somewhere long ago that the test always goes to Dallas, But when you play it uses the best servers or something.

          • PurplePariah

            oh well if it goes to the US then 300 makes sense, average is about there.

        • BakedBagel

          You should try connect to French servers, ARMA for eg has the best ping to FR servers for us down South

          • PurplePariah

            You know that France and London are the same distance from us – and are the same ping range, right?

          • BakedBagel

            You do understand that we are connected to Europe via Paris right?

          • PurplePariah

            What’s the ping from jhb to cape town? 4ms, 5ms? You’re telling me that 5ms difference in ping (which is the case between London & France) is something to note?

            Please.

          • BakedBagel

            My god.

            First of all. I was merely stating the obvious , stop being such a cock. fuck.

            Second. Its not a simple 5ms or 10ms difference WHEN YOUR CONNECTION IS GOING ACROSS THE FUCKING OCEAN Look at the SEACOM routes. You literally adding an extra landing point to your connection.

            Edit: whatever. Pariah. Stop being an ass when people are merely trying to help.

          • PurplePariah

            It is a simple 5ms difference. We’re not going from here to france to here to london. We go here, france, london. france-> london is 5ms.

            Learn to read. While you’re at it, learn to read a map.

          • BakedBagel

            Alright. Be an asshole then 🙂

            Whatever you say bruh.

          • PurplePariah

            Sure. Shout at me. Call me a cock. When I don’t respond with love and affection, I’m the asshole. Yes. You’re so smart.

          • BakedBagel

            Nah its just your constant fucking smug attitude when I state something to help YOU.
            What effection? Save that for your loved one. Just dont respond to people who are wanting to help or add something with this condescending smug attitude.

            You going on like you love everybody, like you havent done this before to random commentors

            But whatever bruh, You know all, and everyone else just cant read.
            Fuck you dude

    • HairyEwok

      180 ping…. Wish I had your line. No matter which game I played, whether it be Arma3, Overwatch, Dota2, Rocket League, WoW or LoL, my connection does not budge below 220. Usually my ping fluctuates between 220-300. I’ve gone from using a 2meg line to using a 4meg to a 6meg and even a 10meg line with no change.

      • PurplePariah

        Yeah, sadly distance only counts for part of the ping issue. Line quality, both on your end and on the server’s end makes a huge difference.

  • Grimsupanoob

    Ok so…on the topic of servers…we do not have the correct infrastructure locally to support the correct type of Datacenters that certain providers would set up… Some of the requirements are 1. Having 2 x independent power providers…we have eishkom and that is it…. So right there we already lose out

  • chimera_85

    Yes.

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