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Many League of Legends players, particularly on the East Coast of the United States, are experiencing high latency in the PC and Mac game. Today Riot Games laid out their solution for that problem.
The developer announced on the game's official forum that they're creating a dedicated network for League of Legends traffic in the United States and Canada. They're coordinating with ISPs throughout North America to ensure that players will be able to link to that network.
"Why are we doing this? Currently, ISPs focus primarily on moving large volumes of data in seconds or minutes, which is good for buffered applications like YouTube or Netflix but not so good for real-time games, which need to move very small amounts of data in milliseconds. On top of that, your internet connection might bounce all over the country instead of running directly to where it needs to go, which can impact your network quality and ping whether the game server is across the country or right down the street."
Riot is essentially building a super highway just for League of Legends. It's a massive undertaking that companies without Riot's tremendous resources couldn't even consider.
"We have leased circuits from Level3, Zayo, and CenturyLink, we have bought Routers from Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent, and we built and are operating POPs (Point of Presence) Equinix and Zayo locations across the country," explained a Riot employee on Reddit. "The backbone is up in New York, Chicago, Seattle and San Jose. And we are bringing on LAX, Dallas, Atlanta and DC in the next month or two."
The Riot employee added that they're now peering with Comcast, Charter, Shaw, and Telus. Negotiations are underway with Time Warner Cable, Verizon, Cox Communications, CenturyLink and other ISPs.
When the network is up and running, it should result in fewer disconnects, lower pings and less packet loss. The degree to which it improves players' connections will vary depending on their location and ISP. Riot will work with players who are still experiencing poor connections, though.
The hardware for the network should be complete by the end of March. Getting the contracts in place and ironing out any problems may push back its official debut, though.
"It can take us many months to work with large ISP companies to achieve even modest results. Gaming is currently not a priority for most. However we are investing a lot of time in educating the ISPs that have LoL players as customers. It is very company dependent and we expect it will be a long road to travel but ultimately great for gamers."
The new network is the second of three steps Riot is taking to improve League of Legends's North American servers. The first step, rebuilding the server infrastructure, occurred in November. Riot asks players to fill out this survey so they can gauge how performance has changed since the server migration.
The final phase will be moving the League of Legends servers and new backbone connections to a new home.
"We aren’t ready to share where this new home will be or when this project team will be ready for prime-time, but we want you to know that the ultimate goal is providing a comparable, stable ping no matter which coast you’re playing from," Riot said this fall.
It sounds like this new infrastructure won't be in place before Season 5 of competitive play. That's unfortunate but this network could be a huge long-term benefit for League of Legends and any other games Riot releases in the future.