Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer hosting examined

When Activision announced months ago that Modern Warfare 2 would not use the dedicated server model which all previous Call of Duty games have employed in their online component, PC gamers around the world were outraged.

No multiplayer mods or community monitored servers essentially destroyed any chance of Modern Warfare 2 being played in the competitive arena.

Instead, games are hosted by players themselves, and a matchmaking system supposedly allows players to quickly find low latency matches in their area with similarly skilled players.

Once the matchmaking system has put players together it determines which player is best suited to host the game based on the quality of their connection.

This system does not work perfectly in SA, with players sometimes being placed in internationally hosted games. Fortunately, local Steam communities make it easy to find and join games hosted in SA, making local Modern Warfare 2 online multiplayer viable.

While the concern of not being able to play on local latencies was solved by the local Steam community, another potential problem continues to hang in the air: local broadband infrastructure limitations.

Unfortunately Modern Warfare 2 requires a player with at least a 4Mbps ADSL line to host comfortably. This means that for every 18 players in a match, at least one must have a 4Mbps line. This in itself is not a problem, as there seem to be a fair portion of gamers that use these lines. It does however mean that if you have a 4Mbps line, you are likely to host matches quite often, leading to the next concern: bandwidth usage.

The dedicated server model allows players to participate in a game and only use the bandwidth required for their own experience. A third party server hosts the game, footing the bill for the bandwidth used to communicate between all the players. In Modern Warfare 2, a single player is the host, and they therefore have to use their own bandwidth to run the entire game.

While SA’s bandwidth prices are coming down, many gamers have complained that continuously hosting Modern Warfare 2 matches is chewing through their data cap.

One of MyGaming’s resident forum users and Modern Warfare 2 junkies – Maplassie – did some bandwidth consumption tests.
After continual testing in a variety of game types – from busy games to quiet games, with and without voice communication – the finding suggests that the average game uses over 200MB per hour when hosting.

According to Radius bandwidth tracker, one six hour session used 1695MB download and 269MB upload, resulting in an average of 327MB of bandwidth per hour. Another 4 hour 50 minutes session used a total of 1480MB, averaging close to 310MB an hour. All other applications were closed during this time, and the only data consumer was the game.

These sessions were busy, with 9 players per side most of the time and the usual voice chat activity.

Local gaming service provider iGame confirmed that in their testing of Modern Warfare 2 they found the average game uses between 200MB and 300MB per hour when hosting.

Furthermore, it is impossible to play Modern Warfare 2 using local bandwidth, as players have to be logged into Steam at all times. In comparison, playing CoD4 on locally hosted servers uses around 20MB per hour, and it is possible to use local bandwidth which is extremely cheap.

Of course playing Modern Warfare 2 does not use excessive bandwidth unless you are hosting, with regular gameplay using no more than 30MB per hour on average. The problem however is that the entire multiplayer service relies on gamers hosting matches, and such high bandwidth usage is likely to put off many 4Mbps line users from playing regularly.


We reported that it is impossible to use local bandwidth to play Modern Warfare. This is incorrect, it is possible using a traffic splitter such as route sentry.Route sentry will not however work on all ISP accounts.

Discuss Modern Warfare 2 hosting bandwidth usage in the forums

  • RC

    wtf calls themselves Maplassie??? LOL!

  • urplasie

    i think u may have missed the point of the article.and wtf calls themselves r?

  • Maplassie

    RC=Maestr0 :)

  • RC

    Howzit buddy :). Thought it would grab your attention.

  • Using Local

    Furthermore, it is impossible to play Modern Warfare 2 using local bandwidth, as players have to be logged into Steam at all times…..

    There is a way to use local bandwidth by using an application that splits the traffic between local and international. So you get a simple 1gb international account and 30gb local and use the application. Most of the time you will be paired up with local people thus using local bandwidth only. I have tested this and it works flawlessly. Please do some research before posting nonsense like this. There is a guide on the SGS MW2 forums on how to do this.

  • CrAzYLeGs69

    can one actually play cod4 using local only? Don't you have to log into on start up anyway, just like MW2?

    "Furthermore, it is impossible to play Modern Warfare 2 using local bandwidth…"

    What BS, I play MW2 with my local cap all the time. The same way I play CoD4.

  • Using Local

    I think what was meant was using LOCAL ONLY bandwidth as a sole source, thus comparing it to COD4, at least thats how I understood it.

    Using local only accounts, with no International account is not possible as we all know.
    The test was also done on MW2, without Routesentry as Routesentry does not work at all with certain Account types and ISP's.

    You clearly ARE an SGS forumite, as your response is laced with the same one sided overly opinionated statements that are normally the trademarks of that forum.

    fck off and die, pls

  • Nic Simmonds

    @ Using Local

    What I meant is that in its basic form it is not possible.

    Route sentry does not work with all ISP accounts and I meant to test the game on its own terms, not using third party software to manipulate the process.

    However, you point is taken, and the amendment has been made. Thanks for commenting.

    @ Crazy Legs

    First you question whether it is possible to play CoD4 using local only. Yes it is, with no tinkering required.

    Then you say that you play MW2 using local only, just like you do with CoD4. This is a bit unclear?

  • Aftershock

    i use 1.3 GB in one day .. just by randomly being picked as a host … WTF?! i have to play €200+ PER MONTH! AND I DONT EVEN NOTICE THAT I AM HOST?! HOW TO ENABLE?!

  • peppers

    The most gamer-unfriendly game in history. If cod 7 comes out with no dedicated servers, no console commands and max 18 player maps…I sure as hell am not blowing more than $30 on it.

  • David

    Is this for xbox ps3 or pc?

  • Nic Simmonds

    @ David

    This test was conducted on the PC version, but since it uses the same P2P matchmaking system as the console version, I would imagine results would not be dramatically different on PS3 or Xbox 360.