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What the new Battlefield 1 server policy means for South African gamers

Battlefield 1 South Africa servers.jpg

Since we first talked about EA's announcement that they will not make use of third-party companies to servers for Battlefield 1, there have been a lot of questions, demands and confusion. We still don't have those answers, but we can give you some perspective on the topic. Before you get mad, and again, demand answers, let me be very clear.

We can't post rumours as facts. We have too much respect for your hard earned cash (R1000 for a PC standard edition game is a lot of money), and we can't tell you to go ahead and pre-order Battlefield 1 because there will be Africa hosted servers.

We want Battlefield 1 servers as much as you do, but until EA makes an official statement we can't tell you how it will work out. From our side, we've been in contact with our partner (as explained in "About hosting local servers for PC gaming"), for many months, and the final word on the matter is still - EA will not make use of third-party hosts.

Below we cover everything we know so far, as well as our thoughts on EA's new direction with server hosting. The article was written in collaboration with MWEB GameZone's server master. You'll go far to find someone in South Africa who knows more about hosting local game servers than him.

There is also not another ISP in SA who hosts even close to the amount of servers we do. Lastly, server hosting is a value added service - not a cash cow. It's extremely resource heavy to roll out and maintain game servers. Bottom line - it's cheaper for devs to use third-party hosts than to set up a server centre themselves, and our server master knows what he's talking about.

Rent-a-server: Good or bad for Battlefield 1?

We’ve have had rent-a-server from Battlefield 3 days, and it’s never been a question of being good or bad. Being able to control your server as you want is always going to be a good thing as not everyone wants to play with the same settings as everyone else.

But is rent-a-server via EA a good or bad thing?

That is the question. I can see EA's side of things in wanting more direct feedback/control over the servers that run their game, but the servers might have been better off with 3rd party hosters like Only time will tell, although there are a few very clear concerns.

Let’s talk about the most important aspect – server location

We currently have two data centres in South Africa which allow us to at least cover most of the population with relatively low pings. If these rented servers are hosted on Azure or Amazon Cloud; then the closest for South African gamers is Europe and maybe India.

No one knows for a fact (not those rumours we've been hearing), on what, or where, EA will be hosting the servers. I mentioned two of the biggest hosts for games in cloud, and neither of those has clusters in South Africa or Africa for that matter. We also don't know much about how EA plans to run the Battlefield 1’s servers. We know there will be a browser option; so we expect it to work like Battlefield 4. Will there be dedicated servers hosted in a cloud? So many questions remain unanswered - for us and SA gamers.

There are a lot of things we don't know at this stage, and until EA official announces more details than what we covered in "About Battlefield 1 servers for South Africa," it's all just speculation.

How did EA’s servers work for the last online game?

That should be Star Wars: Battlefront. It was cloud hosted, with random matchmaking, and no server browser from what I can remember. The most you could do was queue with four friends.

Let’s talk about EA’s reasoning behind the Battlefield 1 no third-party server policy.

1. Will the quality of the hardware be better now that it’s in EA’s hands?

I have been involved in hardware purchases for these titles, and the 3rd party guys make sure the hardware is up to EA/Dice specification, and no instance is ever run on sub-par hardware.

2. What about the direct EA support vs. third-party support?

I have a lot of concern over that. I think 3rd parties give excellent support and possibly better than what EA's people can. We don't know how limited access will be to server configurations and the likes, so it’s a bit of a worry how people will manage their servers other than the basics of changing its config.

Again, the proof will be in the pudding.

3. “Give everyone the same uniform experience” Is that even possible?

Nope, not possible, someone always gets the short stick; and in this case, it's the player furthest from the server. Unless they have servers rolled out in every continent someone will be at a disadvantage when playing a first-person shooter like Battlefield 1. It’s as simple as that. If there is no local servers, SA games will have to play at 150ms, whereas the overseas blokes can play at 20ms.

Could there by some miracle still be local servers for SA players?

Teraco could be a possibility, (although nothing happened about those Overwatch local servers), but there is no news about it that we can confirm. Another reason why it's unlikely is that it would be against EA"s new policy of no third-party hosting.

It only leaves one other option open for Battlefield 1 South African servers - EA rolls out their own. It's possible but unlikely as the demand on cost and resources are enormous - especially if you weigh that against the cost of using a third-party host. Unlikely, but not impossible; let's hope they surprise us and launch their own servers in South Africa.

Some locals have been talking to EA support about servers for South Africa. Below is an image (click on image for better quality), of one such conversation, courtesy of "" Before you take this as EA confirmation, I want you to take careful notice of two things:

  1. Support staff replies shouldn't count as an official statement from EA. (Also, do notice the 'odd' way in which the questions are answered, you do the math).
  2. "Should be based in South Africa" isn't a "yes." It's a "maybe" and wait for official confirmation.

We can hope.

Battlefield 1 servers.png

What is the bottom line for SA PC gamers?

If the servers are hosted outside of Africa (and EA hasn't said anything to the contrary); then SA players will have to play on possibly 150ms+ at all times, with no option (even if you rent your own server) to have lower latency.There is also no LAN option that we know about for Battlefield 1.

Not to mention the impact it will have on the South African eSports scene.

Please note, that the moment we know for a fact how the Battlefield 1 PC servers will work, we'll inform you. For now, some of us are hitching a ride in a Zeppelin away from the World War we wanted so much to soldier in - Battlefield 1 Beta First Impressions: All-out war with a 200 + ping.

Zeppelin & BF1 soldier credit to the talented Andrew.

Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

"it's cheaper for devs to use third-party hosts than to set up a server centre"

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