Online gaming is one of the most profitable businesses on the Internet. Among various threats to continuous player subscriptions, network lags are particularly notorious. It is widely known that frequent and long lags frustrate game players, but whether the players actually take action and leave a game is unclear. Motivated to answer this question, we apply survival analysis to a 1, 356-million-packet trace from a sizeable MMORPG, called ShenZhou Online.
We find that both network delay and network loss significantly affect a player’s willingness to continue a game. For ShenZhou Online, the degrees of player “intolerance” of minimum RTT, RTT jitter, client loss rate, and server loss rate are in the proportion of 1:2:11:6. This indicates that 1) while many network games provide “ping time,” i.e., the RTT, to players to facilitate server selection, it would be more useful to provide information about delay jitters; and 2) players are much less tolerant of network loss than delay. This is due to the game designer’s decision to transfer data in TCP, where packet loss not only results in additional packet delays due to in-order delivery and retransmission, but also a lower sending rate.