Online gaming is one of the most profitable businesses on the Internet. Of all the genres of online games, MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) have become the most popular among network gamers, and now attract millions of users who play in an evolving virtual world simultaneously over the Internet. To gain a better understanding of game traffic and contribute to the economic well-being of the Internet, we analyze a 1, 356-million-packet trace from a sizeable MMORPG called ShenZhou Online. This work is, as far as we know, the first formal analysis of MMORPG server traces.
We find that MMORPG and FPS (First-Person Shooting) games are similar in that they both generate small packets and require low bandwidths. In practice, the bandwidth requirement of MMORPGs is the lower of the two due to less real-time game playing. More distinctive features are the strong periodicity, temporal locality, irregularity, and self-similarity observed in MMORPG traffic. The periodicity is due to a common practice in game implementation, where game state updates are accumulated within a fixed time window before transmission. The temporal locality in game traffic is largely due to the game’s nature, whereby one action leads to another. The irregularity, which is unique to MMORPG traffic, is due to the diversity of the game’s design so that the behavior of users can vary drastically, depending on the quest at hand. The self-similarity of the aggregate traffic is due to the heavy-tailed active/idle activities of individual players. Moreover, we show that the arrival of game sessions within one hour can be modelled by a Poisson model, while the duration of game sessions is heavy-tailed.