It’s easy to spend hours, days even, on a new game. If you’re playing games on a limited 4G LTE connection, however, the good times can become costly when you exceed your monthly data limit. While gameplay itself doesn’t typically use much data, the downloads and updates that come along with that gameplay can easily push you over the edge.

Game downloads, updates, and patches use a lot of data

  • Online game downloads use a huge amount of data. The hour you spend downloading a new game onto your console can end up using as much data as two years of nonstop gameplay would use. While mobile game downloads use significantly less data, they still use more than playing the game does.
  • Day-one patches are, sometimes, just as bad as game downloads. Even if you download the game to your console from a disk (offline), you might still have to download a large day-one patch online.
  • A game update often uses as much data as dozens of hours of gameplay. If your device isn’t portable, these updates are unavoidable. If your device is portable, turn off automatic updates and connect to an unlimited internet connection, like public Wi-Fi at the local library, to update your game. 

Photo by Nelo Hotsuma

Game mode and settings affect data usage

  • The number of players in your game mode has a significant effect on data use. The more players in the mode, the more data your network needs to send and receive with other players’ networks. This data includes information like the current location, stats, and score of each player.
  • Voice chat doubles the amount of data you use playing a game, approximately.
  • Because you download graphics when you download the game, graphics settings shouldn’t have an effect on how much data you use during gameplay.
  • The frame rate should, however, have an effect on your data use. A higher frame rate refreshes the game more often, so you exchange more data with other players in your game over time.
  • Similarly, the tickrate of your game server should affect your data use. A 128-tick server, which refreshes the game 128 times every second, uses approximately twice as much data as a 64-tick server, which refreshes the game 64 times every second.

Data use varies by game

 Different online games use different amounts of data during gameplay. To paint a clearer picture of how much data individual games use, we crowdsourced player data from XBox Live, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC gaming forums, as well as Reddit and Quora. (Updated February 2019.)

Battlefield V: Battlefield V uses about 150 MB of online data per hour on a full, 64-player server. Read more about Battlefield V data use.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4: Black Ops 4 uses about 40 MB of mobile data per hour. Some game modes, however, use data more quickly because they include more players. For example, the game’s battle royale mode, Blackout, hosts 100 players and uses about 80 MB of data per hour. Read more about COD:BO4 data use.

Defense of the Ancients 2: On different forums, gamers say that they use between 50 and 100 MB of data per 30- to 40-minute game of DOTA 2. This means that, to use 1 GB of mobile data, you’d need to play between 10 and 20 games of DOTA 2. Read more about DOTA 2 data use.

Fallout 76: An hour of Fallout 76 gameplay uses 60 MB of mobile data per hour. Of course, the amount of data that different players use varies drastically depending on the mode and some players report much higher data use. Read more about Fallout 76 data use.

FIFA 19: On EA Sports forums, most gamers say that they use between 20 and 30 MB of data per hour playing FIFA 18 on Playstation 4. Read more about FIFA 19 data use.

Fortnite: On Epic Games forums, gamers report using anywhere between 45 and 100 MB per hour playing Fortnite. That means a typical 15-minute game uses between 12 and 24 MB of mobile data. Read more about Fortnite data use.

League of Legends: A 30- to 40-minute game of League of Legends uses between 15 and 100 MB of data

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. Of course, the amount of data that different players use varies drastically depending on the mode. Modes like Twisted Treeline, for example, have fewer players and use about half the data of more populated modes. Read more about LoL data use.

Minecraft: Players on the popular multiplayer server Mineplex use anywhere from 80 to 200 MB of mobile data per hour. Some servers, however, host fewer players and, therefore, use less data. Standard multiplayer, for example, can use less than 40 MB of data per hour. Read more about Minecraft data use.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: On forums, gamers say they use between 15 and 50 MB of data per 20- to 30-minute game of PUBG on mobile. The amount of data that different players use in a game varies widely depending on the platform they use to play and depending on their game settings. Read more about PUBG data use.

Red Dead Online: Red Dead Online can use upwards of 150 MB of mobile data per hour. One gamer playing the beta even managed to bump his household data use up to 30 GB per day when he started playing the game. While these numbers are outliers, Red Dead Online does seem to use more data than other online games. Read more about RDO data use.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor: In WoW, play style determines data use. Playing solo and refraining from trade and general both decrease bandwidth use. For example, raids use approximately 25 MB of data per hour while a 30v30 standoff in Alterac Valley uses approximately 160 MB of data per hour. Read more about WoW data use.

Photo by Thomas van de Weerd

Monitor your data usage

If you frequently exceed your monthly data limit, try monitoring your router traffic with a freeware application like the PRTG Network Monitor or the Netlimiter 4. Because data use varies based on how you play the game, we recommend using a traffic monitor to keep an eye on your data use. You can also track your data use in your Xbox One settings.

Upgrade to unlimited 4G LTE

Want an installed mobile broadband plan that lets you play an unlimited number of games on a phone, computer, or game console, even if you can’t get cable or DSL internet where you live? To find out more, explore our unlimited 4G LTE plans or contact us at 866-439-6630.