The Scotsman

Gamers behind huge surge in data usage in escape from lockdown

- By MARTYN MCLAUGHLIN mmclaughli­

A growing demand from gamers seeking escapism in virtual worlds during the coronaviru­s lockdown has led to a surge in internet usage in Scotland of more than 50 per cent.

Popular titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Fortnite and Minecraft are driving the major spike in data use as people are urged to stay at home to help reduce the spread of the virus.

About 86 petabytes of data was used across the country in the week leading up to 3 May – a spike of 51 per cent on the consumptio­n rate before the widespread restrictio­ns were put in place.

That is the equivalent of the data that could be stored on around 129 million CD-ROM discs or, for those more familiar with older technology, a staggering 64 billion floppy discs.

The latest Call of Duty game, a free-to-play title called Warzone, has been downloaded by more than 60 million players since its launch in March, according to its publishers Activision Blizzard.

Along with first-person shooter games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty, the football title Fifa 20 has also seen an increase in player numbers during the pandemic.

It is not just players logging on to play against one another that is contributi­ng to the data surge. Downloads of extras for the games, as well as users streaming their gameplay and uploading videos, are also factors. Figures published by Digital Informatio­n World, which monitors global internet and social media trends, show Call of Duty enjoyed a more than 60 per cent increase in video uploads on Youtube alone between March and April.

Uploads of gameplay recorded in Grand Theft Auto V, produced by Edinburgh-based developers Rockstar North, increased 17 per cent over the same period. Videos captured in Minecraft and Fortnight were both up 6 per cent and 3 per cent respective­ly.

The jump in data consumptio­n is revealed in figures compiled by Openreach, the network infrastruc­ture company that is part of BT.

Openreach, whose broadband network is used by service providers such as BT, Sky and Talktalk, said there had also been a sizeable increase in video calls and conferenci­ng.

The Zoom app, which has become the market-leading video conferenci­ng service since the outbreak began, was downloaded almost 131 million times last month on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play service.

More than 94 per cent of Scottish households and businesses have access to a superfast broadband service of at least 30Mbps.

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