TECH

This Game Needs An Update: The Download Limit Dilemma

22/12/2014 16:22 GMT | Updated 22/12/2014 16:59 GMT

We have a problem, and it's only getting worse. This problem happens almost every day and stops you doing things from making calls, sending emails to playing games.

It's called an 'update' and even as I'm writing this I'm downloading three of the bloody things.

As internet speeds have increased, so too has the ability for manufacturers and software makers to keep their products up to date.

What's a 60MB update here and a 15MB update there? In fact what's wrong with the odd 500MB update on my Xbox One?

game update

The problem is when you start adding all those things together. Right now, take a tally of the all the technology that you own.

As a rough estimate I count a phone, possibly a tablet, a camera, a TV, a games console, a Blu-Ray Player, a sound system, a Bluetooth speaker, a laptop, a PC and of course last but not least, your fitness tracker.

All of those things -- by now -- will be running on upgradeable software. They will all be connected to the internet and they will all want to make sure that they're spending more time updating than they are actually doing what they're supposed to.

As an example I turned on my Xbox One a few days ago, I decided to play Forza Horizon 2.

"Forza Horizon 2 needs an update. The size of the update is around: 562MB"

Fine, I haven't played it in a few days, it seems fair that by now there's another update. So to pass the time I decide to play Destiny instead.

"Destiny needs an update. The size of the update is around: 1820MB"

Ok, so things aren't going well. Finally I try Assassin's Creed: Unity.

"Assassin's Creed: Unity needs an update. The size of the update is around: 40GB"

That last one? That's actually an error, but it's an error that Ubisoft can't fix at the moment so if you do have Assassin's Creed: Unity on Xbox One you've got to download the entire game all over again. Incidentally, even if you didn't have to, the update was around 5.5GB.

While that in itself is both annoying and inconvenient it's not the time they're making you spend that's the problem, it's the money.

And here lies my point. I pay £25 per month for my internet which in turn gives me unlimited downloads (thank god). This month I used 286GB. That's right, in the space of not even a month I've downloaded a full computer hard drive's worth of data.

What's even more shocking is that unlimited plans still aren't the norm in the UK. Just by having a quick browse I found BT's starting high-speed plan which would cost £24.99, give me 17+mb/s and just 10GB of download usage per month.

10GB? I used over 200GB this month. Based on BT's current pricing system those extra 276GB would have cost me £309.12 in charges.

Now at this stage I should point out that for £36.99 per month BT will remove that download limit and give you unlimited downloads.

I continue scouring and find that EE have a similar deal, but at an altogether more scary price. If you want 17mb/s and a download limit of 20GB you're looking at £40.70 per month.

I continue looking and find discover that as far as I can tell there's no listed tariff on what I'll be charged if I go over.

These plans simply shouldn't exist. While Ofcom spends most of its time making sure all our internet is fast enough it's missing the fact that soon none of us will be able to afford it.

I downloaded 286GB without even blinking an eye, the only reason I know I downloaded that much is because my inherent guilt at destroying the planet means I have my Xbox on 'Energy Saving' mode rather than 'Instant on'.

I could have it on 'Instant on' and never have to worry about a download again but I worry the increased electricity bill and social conscience of leaving something on for every minute of every day would become too much.

What about those people -- especially families -- who sign up to a broadband package and then discover having bought their eldest a PS4 that he's just cost them £300 in game downloads.

With CES promising a 'connected home' this starts a worrying trend. While consumer electronics companies will be happily selling us WiFi-connected kettles and cookers it goes without saying that you can add those to the list of devices that'll need updates.

Google and Apple are already providing developers with the means to create connected systems so whether you like it or not, post-CES your house is about to get a lot smarter.

Which means more expensive. And also, in some ways... dumber.