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1.5M Xbox Live Users Online, Bogging Us Down

Microsoft's online service has hit a new record for concurrent on line users. Is that everything's been so darn slow?

This isn't mine, but it seemed appropriate.
Over on Gamesindustry.biz I caught a Microsoft announcement proclaiming a new record--1.5 million, to be exact--for simultaneous online Xbox Live users over the holidays. Not surprisingly, they attribute that milestone in large part to the launch of the New Xbox Experience, though I'm sure the holiday hardware sales surge and the big pile of worthwhile games also contributed. This release comes on the heels of some previous self-congratulation regarding the Xbox 360's lifetime global sales, which now sit at a fairly beefy 28 million.

Anyway, 1.5 million users online at once is a lot of users online at once. I spent a respectable amount of time over the break on Xbox Live, and at least in my experience, the service was generally running a good deal more slowly than I'm used to. I'm not even talking about game performance or download speeds, just access to the service's basic functionality. Things like reading my inbox, populating my friends list with "what people are doing right now" data, or--most bafflingly--even punching the guide button to spawn the in-game blade display have been lagging for several seconds before responding.

Some of those functions are the sort that would be hitting databases frequently, so it seems like a reasonable assumption that this influx of people jumping online is bogging down Live's performance. Though maybe the NXE also introduced additional network overhead that wasn't present in the previous interface. Clearly I am no network engineer.

How's your Xbox Live experience been these last few weeks? Are you getting the same laggy interface elements I am?

While we're on the subject of Xbox Live numbers, Microsoft put out 2008 top-20 lists for both retail and Arcade. The lists are ranked by unique users and sales, respectively. Braid at number three on the XBLA list is heartwarming to see, and we got a kick out of the number of demos and betas on the retail list--especially where the associated full game is not represented.

Xbox 360 Top Live Titles

  1. Halo 3
  2. Call of Duty 4
  3. GTA IV
  4. Gears of War 2
  5. Gears of War
  6. CoD: World at War
  7. Guitar Hero III
  8. Battlefield: Bad Company Demo
  9. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Demo
  10. Rock Band
  11. Fable II
  12. Mirror's Edge Demo
  13. Madden NFL 09
  14. BF: Bad Company
  15. Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  16. UNO
  17. Castle Crashers
  18. COD: World at War Multiplayer Beta
  19. Forza Motorsport 2
  20. Too Human - Demo

Xbox Live Arcade Top Titles

  1. Castle Crashers
  2. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
  3. Braid
  4. A Kingdom for Keflings
  5. UNO
  6. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
  7. Fable II Pub Games
  8. Duke Nukem 3D
  9. Bionic Commando: Rearmed
  10. Worms
  11. SOULCALIBUR
  12. Portal: Still Alive
  13. DOOM
  14. 1942: Joint Strike
  15. Bomberman Live
  16. MEGA MAN 9
  17. N+
  18. Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3
  19. Marble Blast Ultra
  20. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Brad Shoemaker on Google+
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Posted by Brad
This isn't mine, but it seemed appropriate.
Over on Gamesindustry.biz I caught a Microsoft announcement proclaiming a new record--1.5 million, to be exact--for simultaneous online Xbox Live users over the holidays. Not surprisingly, they attribute that milestone in large part to the launch of the New Xbox Experience, though I'm sure the holiday hardware sales surge and the big pile of worthwhile games also contributed. This release comes on the heels of some previous self-congratulation regarding the Xbox 360's lifetime global sales, which now sit at a fairly beefy 28 million.

Anyway, 1.5 million users online at once is a lot of users online at once. I spent a respectable amount of time over the break on Xbox Live, and at least in my experience, the service was generally running a good deal more slowly than I'm used to. I'm not even talking about game performance or download speeds, just access to the service's basic functionality. Things like reading my inbox, populating my friends list with "what people are doing right now" data, or--most bafflingly--even punching the guide button to spawn the in-game blade display have been lagging for several seconds before responding.

Some of those functions are the sort that would be hitting databases frequently, so it seems like a reasonable assumption that this influx of people jumping online is bogging down Live's performance. Though maybe the NXE also introduced additional network overhead that wasn't present in the previous interface. Clearly I am no network engineer.

How's your Xbox Live experience been these last few weeks? Are you getting the same laggy interface elements I am?

While we're on the subject of Xbox Live numbers, Microsoft put out 2008 top-20 lists for both retail and Arcade. The lists are ranked by unique users and sales, respectively. Braid at number three on the XBLA list is heartwarming to see, and we got a kick out of the number of demos and betas on the retail list--especially where the associated full game is not represented.

Xbox 360 Top Live Titles

  1. Halo 3
  2. Call of Duty 4
  3. GTA IV
  4. Gears of War 2
  5. Gears of War
  6. CoD: World at War
  7. Guitar Hero III
  8. Battlefield: Bad Company Demo
  9. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Demo
  10. Rock Band
  11. Fable II
  12. Mirror's Edge Demo
  13. Madden NFL 09
  14. BF: Bad Company
  15. Rainbow Six Vegas 2
  16. UNO
  17. Castle Crashers
  18. COD: World at War Multiplayer Beta
  19. Forza Motorsport 2
  20. Too Human - Demo

Xbox Live Arcade Top Titles

  1. Castle Crashers
  2. Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
  3. Braid
  4. A Kingdom for Keflings
  5. UNO
  6. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
  7. Fable II Pub Games
  8. Duke Nukem 3D
  9. Bionic Commando: Rearmed
  10. Worms
  11. SOULCALIBUR
  12. Portal: Still Alive
  13. DOOM
  14. 1942: Joint Strike
  15. Bomberman Live
  16. MEGA MAN 9
  17. N+
  18. Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3
  19. Marble Blast Ultra
  20. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Staff
Posted by Geno

Xbox live can't handle 1.5M concurrent users? Microsoft? Come on.

Posted by Lunarbunny

Hey, at least it sounds like XBL stayed up the entire time... what's worse, slow XBL or none at all?

Posted by JoelTGM

COD4 >>>> COD:WAW

:)

Posted by ParadoxControl

@Geno, 

I don't know too many things that can handel that many people on at once. And don't say WoW, because theres no fucking way there servers have anywhere near a million people on any given one, at any given time. 
Posted by Jeffsekai

My XBL has been fine, your internet might be fucked

Posted by WEGGLES

I've been having the same Guide issues. It'll hang for a bit while sending a message, or doing what ever. It's rather annoying. Good to see that it's not just me (as it seemed to have started when I got my new 120GB hard drive. )

Posted by BranDong

I've noticed the dash board working slow a lot lately..  So this is why.. hah..  I have been scoffing at how this dashboard was supposed to be faster than the previous dash board.. and it has been so much slower for me... it even locks up sometimes.

Posted by darkjester74

Yeah I noticed the slow downs as well.  Its rather stupid that it should hit the network just to bring up the guide, tho.

Edited by skrutop

It's definitely taking an extra 10-20 seconds for my NXE dashboard to show since Christmas, and I sometimes have difficulty pulling up the list of XBLA games when I want to play one of them.  While I have had a few hiccups streaming 30 Rock in HD via Netflix, it hasn't been noticeably worse than any other time, and it's still much better than when the service first launched.

I'm really surprised to see Castle Crashers at #17 on the XBL list and #1 on XBLA list.  I stayed far, far, away from multiplayer until the patch was released, which was only a week ago.

Posted by daniel_beck_90

it is wierd that Forza Motorsport 2 is number 19  .

Posted by Gizmo

Well apart from the E74 error message, my Xbox has been fine for the most part recently, it's frozen about 4 times in the guide though.

Posted by Daz0608

Live was alright for me over christmas, a massive improvement on what happend last year

Posted by bombHills

I have noticed sometimes accessing your friends list can be really slow.  It's funny though not suprising to see COD4 topping COD5

Edited by Geno

@Paradox, WoW has close to 12 million subscribers, a large part of which play several hours a day. It's not unreasonable to assume 10% of the player pop is on at any given time (and remember, this is under the condition that the servers are mostly lag free too). Games like Runescape are way smaller than WoW yet they have about 150k-200k concurrent users on average.

Posted by bwooduhs

im suprised GTAIV is above Gears 2. I didn't think many people actually playedd online anymore.

Posted by RHCPfan24

My Xbox has been a bit laggy I must say, and the guide has taken a while to just pop up similar to Brad. I also notice it takes awhile to sign in occasionally. 

For the charts, I don't realize why the XBLA arcade games are on both lists. I know the second list is BOUGHT games, not played, but why structure it like that? Its strange, and Left 4 Dead isn't on the list.
Posted by crunchUK

i believe i speak for everyone when i say xbox live ftw

Posted by ParanoidFreak
bombHills said:
"I have noticed sometimes accessing your friends list can be really slow."
I noticed my friends list was slow too, I just assumed it was NXE lagging, I'm glad to know it should speed up soon.
Posted by crunchUK
bwooduhs said:
"im suprised GTAIV is above Gears 2. I didn't think many people actually playedd online anymore."
It's unique users for the whole of 2008 so it doesn't matter much wether there are many people online NOW

also @ they guy commenting on forza 2 being at #19 forza actually has quite a few people online
Posted by jhosaphat

I would get kicked off of Live for no apparent reason....but that was it. It happened enough to annoy me, but since Christmas it's been fine.

Posted by WilliamRLBaker

BattleField Bad company demo? is higher in usage then the full game?!

Posted by Jayge_

If I remember correctly, Xbox Live was originally designed to accommodate less than 750,000 users (or something like that). To be handling 1,500,000 with that same infrastructure (or similar infrastructure) today is quite an achievement.

Posted by Aaox

I was just experiencing that. AND I've been kicked out of parties for no reason. Or rather, everyone leaves. Am I really that unlikeable?

DON'T ANSWER THAT!
Posted by giyanks22

I noticed that too..Acessesing the Marketplace took a shitload of time, and the in game guide button was real slow too. Good article Brad.

Posted by WilliamRLBaker
Geno said:
"@Paradox, WoW has close to 12 million subscribers, a large part of which play several hours a day. It's not unreasonable to assume 10% of the player pop is on at any given time (and remember, this is under the condition that the servers are mostly lag free too). Games like Runescape are way smaller than WoW yet they have about 150k-200k concurrent users on average."
remember all those **users** are paying 15 dollars a month so yeah they have much more income to put into massive server clusters on big big fat backbones.
Posted by Hexpane

PAY TO PLAY FOR PEER2PEER is fucking robbery.   I can't believe people are still paying for PEER2PEER lag fest nonsense when 99% of the same games are in higher res, for free on the PC

Posted by Everyones_A_Critic

My friends and I get kicked out of each other's parties every 10 minutes, it's so fucking annoying..

Posted by dtran1212

man, xbl sucks

Posted by Hexpane
Everyones_A_Critic said:
"

My friends and I get kicked out of each other's parties every 10 minutes, it's so fucking annoying..

"
AND you are paying for it.  99% of XBL games do not even have dedicated servers, it's one of Microsoft's greatest scams.  Charging users to use their own XBXs as hosts... total bamboozle and the sad part is it's working
Posted by Champy

i've been having having slow live, its been really crappy.

Posted by TheFrostedGamer

COD World at War. A game that's tremendously more fun to play online than Left 4 Dead. The multiplayer is fantastic. The Nazi Zombie mode is fantastic. But yet.. Left 4 Bleh running on the garbage Source Engine gets end of the year awards and COD gets nothing. Looking at this list, I am at least glad to see xbox users are using their time and dollars to show which games have staying power and replay value.  To this day I have no idea why people have an obsession with auto-awarding anything Valve comes out with regardless of whether it deserves it. I don't really care if this is off-topic - it needed to be said. Peace.

Did I mention COD: World at War is far better than Left 4 Bleh.. ok good.

Posted by eduardo

Funny you should mention, I got a lot of menu freezes today, for several seconds. Kind of annoying if you ask me.

Posted by TheHBK

Cool, it slowed down but didnt crash like years past.  But Guitar Hero III?  Really?  Thats one of the top online games?  Still it is funny the demos do better than the full game.

Posted by TekZero

I have noticed a slow down when I play Shadowrun.

Posted by GalvanizedNails

Forza 2 heck yes! that games got some legs!

Posted by crunchUK
GalvanizedNails said:
"Forza 2 heck yes! that games got some legs!"
definitely it's just one of those games that never gets dull
Posted by MordeaniisChaos

I don't really know, as I replaced my 360 just a bit ago, but I have noticed it slower to way back to when I owned my last 360. It makes sense, with a lot of the US having snow issues and stuff, and winter break for all the kids, and all the new consoles/games from the holidays. Plus this is a popular time of year for birthdays if I am correct, so yeah.

Posted by crunchUK
Hexpane said:
"PAY TO PLAY FOR PEER2PEER is fucking robbery.   I can't believe people are still paying for PEER2PEER lag fest nonsense when 99% of the same games are in higher res, for free on the PC"
my sony fanboyometer is off the charts
Posted by Snail

At least the PSN doesn't go down every once in a while (nor does the PS3).

Posted by WilliamRLBaker
Posted by Afroman269
Snail is online
on Jan. 6, 2009
At least the PSN doesn't go down every once in a while (nor does the PS3).




Hmm, maybe because the PSN doesn't have to tolerate that many users that it won't have to bog down. Just a guess. Anyways petty fanboy fights aside, I hope they fix it because I hate on how the guide freezes while looking at the friend's list.
Posted by dsplayer1010

You would think that they would've learned after last year

Posted by crunchUK
Snail said:
"At least the PSN doesn't go down every once in a while (nor does the PS3)."
lulz tell that to socom
Posted by Hexpane
crunchUK said:
"Hexpane said:
"PAY TO PLAY FOR PEER2PEER is fucking robbery.   I can't believe people are still paying for PEER2PEER lag fest nonsense when 99% of the same games are in higher res, for free on the PC"
my sony fanboyometer is off the charts"
Are you retarded? Where do you see Sony in my post?
Posted by Oni

My guide button is always slow as molasses, especially, even more bafflingly than yours, when trying to QUIT out of the blades. So weird.

Edited by Meteora

Eh, I can't really tell a difference aside from looking up on my friendslist. Haven't touched my console for a while now.

Also Hexpane, please, don't go around bitching about XBL. Honestly $60 a month isn't expensive, and if you do consider it expensive then you must be one of those who don't have a job, get your parent to pay for your stuff or just in general or have a limited budget. WoW fees is $15 each month and adds up to $180 annually, which is 3 times the cost of XBL. Yet there are 11 million subscribers there. Also XBL is a centralized network; it's nothing like PSN's inability to look up at your friends as far as I know of it, and we've got headsets added in too (not everybody has mics on Computers or PS3). There's more to it than that as well. Either way go back to your computer gaming or PS3 if you don't like it, no need to cry about it.

Posted by TomA
Posted by Jared

Daniel_Beck

I'm not really surprised, it's an excellent racing simulator, one of the best ever made.

Edited by MrKlorox

TomA, I guess it's proportionate to the number of modern, quality games available for the respective platforms.

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