These days it is not uncommon to turn on your game console and come across a page asking you to update the installed games. This happened to me today and a few games needed to download additional data, which means hundreds of gigabytes were spent doing so. But while this process was running automatically, my main concern was how long it would take to update all of these games and how much memory would take up my console. But I did not even think about how the transfer of all this data on the network would affect it. Obviously, when you do not see something, you do not think about it.
But do you know how much you use the Internet every month? It is very difficult to find accurate statistics for this. For example, when I checked my consumption for the last 7 days, I saw that it is a little lower than 110 GB. This is certainly not a high number, especially for someone who writes about video games and has a lot of downloads. Download 55 GB for Cyberpunk 2077. There were other new games that needed updates. With these descriptions, my consumption was easily multiplied. Or, for example, like millions of other gamers, I could download Call of Duty: Warzone, which is 100GB in size and comes with regular updates. What I want to say is that consuming a lot of data for gaming in 2021 is not strange or unexpected.
As the resolution of the games increases and the visual quality of the textures improves, their volume also increases. Now that we are in the realm of 4K and we are about to cross the 8K frontier, and platforms like Xbox GamePas and Stadia want to bring the streaming business model to the world of video games, massive data transfer has become the new industry norm.
Everything is growing and evolving rapidly. For example, let's look at one of the most popular games in history, Call of Duty. When Modern Warfare was released for PC in 2007, it was only 7 GB in size. Now, only a decade later, this volume has increased tenfold and more in "Call of Duty" games. But even if we consider Warzone itself, which currently has more than 100 million players, it is equivalent to a staggering volume.
Countless patches and updates, some of which reach tens or hundreds of gigabytes, have become the new norm in the gaming world, and most gamers may buy digitally. They prefer games and downloads to physical purchases.
So when this number of audiences need to consume such a large amount of data, there is no doubt that it affects the overall consumption of the Internet on a large scale. The corona pandemic and the housing and quarantine that came with it have exacerbated the problem. An internet operator in the UK reported that due to Corona, user consumption increased by 40% in 2020 compared to the previous year, a large part of which is formed by the consumption of gamers. These updates are so troublesome that some lawmakers require gaming companies to notify operators before releasing them. Even the UKIE, a UK video game trade organization, wrote letters to major publishers advising them to schedule their midnight releases and refrain from airing them during rush hour - between 5pm and 11pm.
Internet provider and game publisher are negotiating. "Publishers are informing Internet companies when a patch for their new game will be available," says Saunders. "There is also a process that allows these companies to delay the release of some of these patches so that they do not all saturate the network at the same time." Consider Boxing Holiday 2020. On that day, 210 petabytes of data was consumed, which is equivalent to 210,000 terabytes and 210,000 gigabytes. This is too much data for one day. It may not be possible to get accurate statistics on the video game industry in the meantime, but according to Steam's annual report - the main market for PC gamers - in 2020, about 25.2 exabytes of data were consumed by users of the platform; Equivalent to 25,200 petabytes, 25,200,000 terabytes and 25,200,000,000 gigabytes.
This graph from Steam shows a steady increase in download data on this platform.
Valve said in the same report:" Many governments We came to see how we could help increase the global traffic of Internet companies, because it had reached a point where it had a negative impact on people's use of homes and disrupted their work. Even part-time students got into trouble. "In response, we made changes that controlled bandwidth, including postponing the release of updates to overnight." It fits. But just because you can't see the travel of this data on the wires of the network does not mean that this large structure is inexpensive. This, in particular, is the cost to humanity of energy. All problems in this equation require energy; The console you turn on to experience games, the TV that feeds you this image, the modems and routers that connect you to the Internet, and the information you receive or send from servers.
Servers so They are all giant computers with countless motherboards stacked up like a store shelf. Servers are there to provide you with the data you need, which means they are very powerful to meet the needs of all users. Given the available processing power, we need a lot of fans to cool them, which makes the data center space very noisy. Ultimately, this means that we need warehouses that become the farmland of these data centers.
How much energy such data centers consume is a complex question, as each company has its own way of controlling these data centers. has it. Companies like Google and Microsoft are so big that they have their own data centers and do not borrow it from providers. The consumption of these companies is so high that they have to devote significant resources to the construction and maintenance of these centers. Of course, these companies are still looking for ways to shift their energy consumption to clean and renewable energy. For example, Microsoft recently built and tested submarine servers. The rest of the smaller companies will have to share these servers with other companies in the hosting space, such as Amazon Web Services.
Another challenge in obtaining accurate statistics is that such companies have data centers around the world. Consider, for example, Steam, who announced in his report that he had upgraded one of Chicago's data centers in one year and established three new datacenters in Frankfurt, Dallas, and Buenos Aires. Valve also plans to establish two to four new data centers in the first half of 2021. It is not clear how many such data centers there are around the world, but we can guess that not all of them are supposed to be modern structures and help save energy.
Another issue to consider It is a cloud that not only gives you data, but also has to process your data. This means that we will need more data centers, which in turn will produce more heat and require more cooling. From Google Stadium to Amazon Luna and PS Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming, the development of all these services requires more power.
So the question we all have to ask ourselves - despite a new report The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found that temperatures are rising much faster than we expected - should be what is the impact of the video game industry on the environment and the existential concerns of global warming? The question is, how much does it cost the world when you download a game, install updates, or experience a new work in the cloud?
There is a good reason why no accurate report has been published so far on the impact of gaming on the network and ultimately the environment. Looking at an example of this hot and controversial video streaming video can illustrate the problem for us. In 2019, an all-media study by environmental advocacy group The Shift Project claimed that streaming 30 minutes of video online as long as driving 6.5 kilometers by car had an effect on greenhouse gas emissions. But the statistics were somewhat controversial, and the way the media reported on the issue made it a controversial issue. "Byte" used, so all the figures reported by the media were almost eight times exaggerated. Or, for example, many news outlets focused on Netflix, while this study focused on the average of many of the greats in the streaming industry, which is one of the lowest in terms of Netflix energy consumption. On the other hand, how the research statistics themselves are put together is controversial, which shows that we still cannot scientifically determine many of the variables of this energy consumption.
Of course, in the end. This does not mean that we can not find an answer to this question, but the answer changes from time to time. But if we want to give an answer now, this answer can be examined in three different sections. First of all, it is necessary to consider how energy efficient the data center infrastructure is. In the second stage, it is necessary to see what energy sources supply them and how much CO2 (carbon dioxide) is emitted in return. Finally, it is important to note how much demand there is for such designs in the market. But beyond that, you also need to consider how much power your consoles and devices consume locally. So let's look at these issues one by one.
Optimal data centers
If we want to look at the issue in general, we must first examine the optimization of data centers. First of all, it should be noted that these data centers are constantly changing. For example, in the cloud computing space, the main source of greenhouse gas emissions goes back to the processes themselves, not the data transmission. So if we can optimize their infrastructure in terms of energy consumption, we can largely prevent carbon dioxide damage.
According to the WHO Intergovernmental Center Pak monitors, since 2015, Internet traffic consumption and data center workloads have increased significantly, but due to the optimization of the data centers themselves (which means they do more processing using less energy), this increase in usage is completely Compensated.
So at least in theory, the fact that gaming is now using more of the Internet does not necessarily mean that it has affected carbon dioxide emissions. But it is not so simple. For example, given the graph below, we see that despite the optimization of many datacenters, those for gaming are still at the bottom of the list, which can cause problems.
Internet traffic, workload of data centers and the amount of energy used
More importantly, when in Speaking of global warming, there is an important difference between improving optimization and improving conditions. The graph above is a good example of this: data centers are so optimized that increasing their workload does not affect greenhouse gas emissions, but on the other hand, the green line shows that data centers consume as much energy as they did in 2015 or 2010. This means that our optimization efforts will not ultimately improve global warming, because, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030.
The Relationship between Companies and Energy Consumption
George Kamiya, one of the IEA's digital energy analysts, sees dynamometers as a black box. Usually different companies do not want to be held accountable for their data centers, so we do not know what kind of energy and infrastructure they work with. To make it easier to look at the issue, we need to look at how the electricity distribution infrastructure in general works in each country. In the UK, for example, about 36% of energy comes from gas, 18% from wind, 15% from nuclear energy, 6% from biomass, 2% from coal, 6% from solar energy, 15% from imports and 1% from hydropower. . Overall, about 41% of UK energy consumption comes from non-carbon sources. But this statistic can vary from country to country and from time to time.
It should be noted, however, that each company's definition of these energy sources is different. The largest companies can think of their own energy sources. Apple, for example, is one of the holdings that builds wind farms near its data centers and uses their energy directly. But on the other hand, these companies can get licenses that allow them to buy one megawatt per hour of renewable electricity. But the problem with these licenses, called RECs, manifests itself in two cases. First of all, they do not add anything to the renewable energy industry. In the United States, for example, these licenses are so cheap that if a large company buys them, it will not help the energy supplier financially to expand its business. But in the case of the second problem, the buyers of these licenses themselves receive electricity from the source, which can be a combination of all energies because the REC does not specify what source the primary energy used was.
Another type of These contracts are called PPAs. These are a series of direct contracts between the energy consumer - for example, the person who owns the data center - and the person who supplies the energy. Given that these contracts can include a note to build a renewable energy source, or at least serve as a promise to support the supplier to raise capital to do so, they are much better than RECs, but still can not be fulfilled. Considered a perfect solution.
If we want to follow the impact of this issue in the video game industry, we can find some interesting clues. In a 2017 report, Greenpeace specifically cited corporate dishonesty as the first barrier to accessing the Internet, which is 100% renewable. Of course, the problem is that this report is for 2017 and a lot has changed since then, but you can see the result below.
In 2017, Greenpeace surveyed data center companies with explicit commitment, commitment, and optimization policies. In the above model, the presence of gaming companies such as Amazon Web Services (sponsor Luna), Google (Stadia, Android), Apple (IOS) and Microsoft (Xbox) is noteworthy.
Greenpeace reports this to sections Divided into different types of companies. Even video streamers like Netflix and YouTube and messengers like WhatsApp and virtual networks like Facebook were included in the report, but there was no single section to differentiate video games. But if we're just looking at gaming, we can start with Amazon Web Services, which is perhaps the world's largest cloud company and supports Amazon (Luna) and Nintendo's own projects.
The company received a poor score according to Greenpeace standards. Only 17% of Amazon datacenters use renewable energy, and it was explicitly rated by Company F, which is not very noticeable. For example, they said in a statement that five of their data centers were "carbon neutral," but that there was no evidence to support that claim, according to Greenpeace. On the other hand, Google, which owns the studio service, received an A rating, considering that it supplies 56% of its energy needs from renewable sources. Of course, even Google does not provide specific data on which region uses clean energy, so its customers can not tell the difference between them.
Microsoft, which is a very important player in the video game industry and It has its own cloud service called Xbox Cloud Gaming and also provides Azure services to its competitor Sony, which is constantly evolving. 100 REC . .
Greenpeace . Greenpeace The Shift Project .
2020 2030 . REC . 100 2025 . 2030 NET (DAC).
(: . . NET .)
2030 . 2017 PPA . 24/7 . .
2025 . . Greenpeace .
. . 2010 2050 . 2021 . 2020 1.39 2019 11 2015 . Azure .
. . CO2 2020 46 2019 .
2019 The Climate Pledge 2040 2015 5 2030 . . 451 Research 3.6 .
. () . . . efficientgaming.info . .
. . . .
. 2025 2050 . .
. . . .
. . .
: . . 2015 . . (Matthew Marsden) . . . .
. 30 112 . : 4K .
. : . . . . . 100 . ( ) .
. (Joshua Aslan) (Kieren Mayers) (Chris France) (Richard Murphy) . 369 . . .
. 2015 2020 2016 2019 . . . . . . .
. : . 128 34 . . : . . :
() () .
. . God of War 2018 45 . 9 .
. . . . .
(Evan Mills) . 2007 . 300 .
Greening the Beast . . 75 . . .
. . . Skyrim . 4 . .
(FPS) . .
5 . . . . . ( .)
: . . . ( ) . .
. 5 123 . . .
. . . . .
. /100 .
. . : . 30 60 4K
. . . .
. . . . 2040 2050 . .
UKIE . . .
. . .
: 10 1.5 . . .