Why is my online game so slow?

Updated: 08/31/2020 by Computer Hope
Slow computer game

A game's online performance can be attributed to many factors. Below is a list of some of the different causes of why an online game may be slow or laggy.

Connection speed

If you're using a dial-up modem to connect and play online games, you are going to notice a much higher ping than others who have a broadband connection. If you do have broadband and are still experiencing lag, test your Internet connection to see what your throughput is.

Testing your connection speed helps determine if the issues are caused by the Internet or server connection.

Server

The server location, its connection type and speed, and how many players are currently using it, all affect the gaming experience. Below are a few recommendations to try.

  1. See if all users are experiencing high pings or high latency. Often if all users are slow it's likely the server has too many players for the connection being used.
  2. Try an alternate server. Servers can be located anywhere in the world and if the server you're playing on is in another country it affects your connection speed.
  3. Play the game at a different time of day. If the game's server is being utilized for more multiple titles or other tasks it could be currently experiencing a heavy work load, which lowers performance.

Updates

Verify you have the latest updates for your game and the operating system you're using to play the games. Often updating the game to the latest version, updating the hardware drivers, and updating the operating system can improve a game's performance offline and online.

More complex environment

When entering an area with other players, the computer's frames decrease due to the resources needed to load each of the characters and their actions. If your computer's performance decreases when there are other players on your screen, reduce the game's video quality through the game's "Settings" or "Display Settings."

How do I view the ping in an online game?

Many online games have a feature that can be toggled to allows you to see the latency of your connection to the game server. Unfortunately, where this information is located and how to enable/disable it is all dependent on the game. See your documentation or ask other players in the game how to display this setting.

How do I know if my ping is high?

As mentioned above, the higher the ping or latency value the worse your connection. However, whether or not it is high compared with other users on the same server depends on the game and the server. Some online games have color-coded ping/latency/connection indicators. For example, red for bad (high ping), yellow for ok, and green for good (fast or low ping).

Can I manually change my ping?

Some games allow you to manually specify the ping or there may be hacks that allow you to change your ping. However, this is only changing what is being displayed and will in no way improve your ping. However, it may allow your computer to connect to a server that requires a low ping.

Not enough video memory

If your computer does not have enough video memory to properly render objects displayed on the screen, the game will be slower to respond and appear laggy.

For online games, low video memory can result in very slow game performance and lag because the computer has trouble rendering the game graphics.

To improve video performance, reduce the quality through the game's "Video Settings". If you don't want to reduce the game's video quality, you may need to replace the video card with a more powerful one.