Are you considering signing up for Starlink, but want to know how it handles multiplayer gaming?
Due to being a form of sattelite internet service, many gamers have worries regarding ping, jitter and latency. But is still a concern?
In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not Starlink is good for gaming, examples of games it handles well, as well as some ways to improve your Starlink performance.
Let’s get to it!
Is Starlink Good For Gaming?
Starlink is considered to be acceptable for most online multiplayer games, but it can be difficult to know exactly how it will perform for you until you try it out.
This is because unfortunately, performance depends on a wild number of factors.
For example, some things that affect your Starlink’s performance include:
- The specific location you’re at
- The number of other Starlink customers in your area
- Whether or not your dish has a clear view of the sky
- The time of day
- The current weather
- The number of other devices on your network
These affect not only your download speed, but may also affect your ping – otherwise known as your latency.
Many people don’t know this, but download and upload speeds have relatively little impact on online gaming performance. Instead, it is the ping and jitter that matter most.
Unfortunately, since your Starlink dish has to connect to satellites way up in the sky, there is an unavoidable amount of ping while data is being transferred. Typically speaking, you can expect pings between 80 ms and 180 ms most of the time, depending on the factors above.
Although Starlink satellites are much closer to Earth than other satellite internet companies like HughesNet or Viasat, the ping is still quite noticeable.
Therefore, it’s almost never going to have as great of ping as a wired connection like fiber, cable or DSL – and will generally deliver worse gaming performance even if the download speeds are higher.
That being said, I personally do not have problems on most games. I am using Starlink’s RV service (which has worse performance than their normal residential service), and I’m in a ‘waitlisted’ area – meaning that Starlink already states that my area is over capacity.
So, even despite this, my gaming performance is still pretty alright. More information will be shared about this later in the article.
Is There Any Way To Improve Gaming Performance With Starlink?
Now you may be wondering – is there any way to improve gaming performance with Starlink?
Unfortunately, outside of setting your dish up so it has a clear view of the sky and connecting your computer to the router via ethernet, there isn’t a whole lot to do. Because the satellites are hundreds of miles above Earth, there is simply no way to cut down the latency very far.
However, if your budget allows it and it’s available in your area, we recommend purchasing a second internet package from another company, that uses a different form of internet service.
Many rural areas may have DSL internet packages available that can act as a supplemental ISP for your household.
For example, in my area, the only two options are 12.5 mbps DSL, and satellite internet.
Starlink delivers much, much higher speeds, and it’s what I would normally use for browsing and downloading games. When playing competitive online games however, I would switch to a DSL line for the improved ping and reduced jitter.
Even a few mbps is more than enough for most games, so this would be considered an optimal solution.
If your area offers wireless 5G for your home, this should also have lower ping than Starlink. Online gaming does not use a lot of data once the games have been downloaded, so you shouldn’t need to worry about hitting any data caps that 5G ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile etc. impose.
If budget allows, using two ISPs in your home is an excellent idea, that can give you the best of both worlds. Best of all, if Starlink has any outages, you will still have internet access!
Starlink And Gaming: How Good Is Starlink With Various Genres?
Fortunately, not all games are affected by Starlink’s latency. In fact, some multiplayer games can be played completely fine, without any issues at all.
Let’s look over some various examples to learn more about whether or not they’re affected.
FPS Games (Call of Duty, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Etc.)
Unfortunately, competitive FPS games like Call of Duty and Fortnite experience the most issues when it comes to Starlink.
This is because any additional latency can make the difference between winning a firefight and losing one.
When it comes to 1 on 1 fights, whoever is able to react first is going to have a huge advantage, and the rapid movement of players means that any additional ping loses you precious time.
To make matters worse, on your screen it can look like you’re aiming right towards someone and successfully hitting them. However, the server may already have them registered as somewhere else.
That being said, some people have better experiences than others.
If you are not in a crowded are and have little obstructions, you may not have any problem at all. In fact, even in a waitlisted area (meaning that there are more Starlink customers than the infrastructure can handle), I can handle most games just fine.
Still, it conveniently feels like my lag issues pop up at the worst times, and I can only hope that Starlink will continue to improve as more satellites are launched.
MMORPGs (RuneScape, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls Online, Etc.)
Next, let’s look at MMOs like Old School RuneScape and Guild Wars 2.
For the most part, these games are unaffected by Starlink’s additional latency. This is true even for dangerous activities like bossing or PVP.
Note however that tick-based or turn-based games like RuneScape generally handle ping better. For example, in RuneScape you may only be attacked every few seconds, so even with a delay you’ll have ample time to eat food or move to a different position.
Of course, non-combat activities are for the most part, completely unaffected.
Rocket League is an example of a game that is playable, but the experience is quite downgraded compared to a DSL / cable / fiber connection.
While playing Rocket League on Starlink, my ping typically ranged from 120 – 180, and packet loss occurred at least once every few games. In certain areas however, some people have reported pings as little as 40 ms – which is even better than I used to get with fiber internet!
Although I was able to maintain my current rank after switching to Starlink, my play style had to be adjusted to account for the increased latency. I also experienced the occasional frustrating loss that felt like it shouldn’t have happened, due to temporary lag spikes rendering me useless as a player.
That being said, it’s not all bad.
Once you get up into the higher ranks in Rocket League, you aren’t necessarily paying attention to where the ball is right now, but where you expect it to be moments later. An additional 100 ms of ping doesn’t give the ball long to travel, so even if the server registers it as being somewhere else, you are still going to hit it even if you are an additional 100ms behind.
After playing for a few hours, it seemed that my brain automatically took the additional ping into account and I started playing better despite it.
Although I would still prefer DSL, cable or fiber any day, Rocket League is still playable.
Osu is another example of a game that is completely unaffected by Starlink’s latency and jitter problems.
Although Starlink’s occasional outages will cause disconnects, this usually doesn’t happen very often as long as your area is clear from obstructions, and your Starlink dish has a clear vision of the sky.
While playing multiplayer on Osu, you are not actually synced up with all of the other players in real time. Instead, the song is downloaded onto your computer and your score and streak are periodically uploaded as the song progresses – while everybody else’s is periodically downloaded.
Even if there were a delay of a few hundred milliseconds, this would not affect your performance at all. By the time the song finished for everyone, the scores would be completely synced up and you’d gain an accurate representation of your position.
Additionally, even if you don’t play multiplayer but still want to view leaderboards, your scores will be uploaded and ranked as normal.
So, even if your ping were considerably worse, you would have no problem playing this very popular music game.
Unfortunately, Starlink isn’t optimal for real-time multiplayer games, especially if ping is a huge issue. Therefore, you’d be better off pairing Starlink’s high download speeds with a DSL line if one is available.
Of course, if cable or fiber is available, it’s usually a better idea to opt for this instead.
That being said, not all games are affected equally. Despite Starlink being kind of expensive, it’s miles ahead of other satellite internet companies, and games that do not require excellent latency are relatively unaffected by Starlink’s ping or jitter.
I hope that you’ve found this article helpful. If you have any questions about Starlink, please ask them using the comment form below.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister