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I live in an area without cable or DSL, so my home Internet connection is a Verizon LTE modem on a limited data plan. I'd like to get the new SimCity, but I'm concerned about how much data is transferred over its "always-on" server connection. Does anyone have any metrics?

If it's 10-20 MB per evening, I'm probably happy, but if it's 100 MB, that's probably too much for me.

I'm content to play single-player, if that reduces the Internet traffic.

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Just a comment for people to go on as I do not have hard data as of yet, but from what I can tell the games are saved in a cloud like manner. If this does an entire file push (could be large) or just incremental ones (could be very small) I am not sure, so I can not give a more specific answer than: I do not think doing single player will have any great impact on data transfer for this game. –  James Mar 6 '13 at 23:34
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I did a little bit of monitoring using Windows 7’s built in Resource Monitor (not the best monitoring tool around), and here are my observations:

  • When the game itself is just loading, the send and receive speeds hover around 5‒8 KB/s.
  • The largest bandwidth load was on actually loading the map with receive speeds hitting upwards of 130 KB/s, and send speeds just below that.
  • During normal playing the game (small city with ~1500 residents) the speeds stayed low, around 0.15‒0.3 KB/s or even as low as in the screenshot below.
  • Every so often the network load spikes (as seen on the “Network” graph), when, I suppose, it synchronizes with surrounding cities (which reportedly happens every three minutes or so), but that spike isn’t so bad.
  • Importantly, when the heavy network activity goes on, my antivirus (Kaspersky) uses almost as much bandwidth as the game itself (I don’t know if most AV software works like this).
  • In general, aside from the occasional spike, the graph does not even register the game’s bandwidth in comparison to the rest of the load.
  • I reset my network connection prior to this test, and the results of the first 25 minutes can be seen in the screenshot (7 MB downloaded, 2 MB uploaded). This is not exact figure, as I also have Facebook and SE open in browser with usual AJAX trickery going on, and various background processes. This is where more advanced monitoring tool could be helpful, where I could track the impact of only that particular process.
  • The screenshot was taken 25 minutes after I reset the connection, but an hour in numbers were different: only 1 MB was added to my received count, but sent count shoot up to 7.5 MB, possibly because I got disconnected from the SimCity server (again), and the game tried to connect or synchronize the city on exit.

enter image description here

All in all, not precise science, but should give some idea of the impact.

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The SimCity network minimal bandwidth requirements are 256kbps/in, 64kbps/out. The higher input, as I guess, is required to receive data from four neighbour cities (i.e. 4x64 kbps).

While there is no certain that it will be constantly at this rate if you play alone (which is in fact somewhat discouraged way of play) it still can potentially generate some 120MB of inbound traffic per hour (and 30MB of outbund).

But it could probably generate more, if you have faster connection.

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Heh just chewed through 5gb of my pocket wi fi in about 2 hours although I'm hoping updates were involved. Be very careful. I'm gonna end up paying for this.

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Are you including downloading it? That sounds awfully high for just playing a game. –  Frank Mar 7 '13 at 14:15
    
@fbueckert, the game itself is 13 GB, so no. But there was some sort of update within first couple days. though I did not catch how large it was. –  theUg Mar 7 '13 at 16:13
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