These top games have servers in South Africa

Eight of the most popular PC and console games in the world have no local server options in South Africa, a MyBroadband analysis has found.

South African gamers often have to play popular online multiplayer games at a competitive disadvantage.

This is the consequence of being at the southernmost tip of the poorest continent on the planet, while most of the world’s gaming servers are in the northern hemisphere.

Gamers in North America, Europe, and Asia typically have a range of servers to choose from that will, at most, be within a few hundred kilometres from their homes.

But South African gamers regularly have to be satisfied with servers thousands of kilometres from where they play — adding to in-game latency.

In communications technology, latency is the delay between a user’s input and that input reflecting in a game or application.

Latency is directly related to the distance between a user’s PC and the server hosting the application.

From South Africa, undersea fibre optic cables are the longest part of this link.

Although substantially faster than satellite connections or old copper cables, the vast distance still creates a tangible delay.

According to Wondernetwork, pings between Johannesburg and London are typically just below 160 milliseconds.

While that might seem insignificant for most use-cases, it is a big problem for gaming.

The margin of error among the world’s top professional esports players can be a fraction of a second, as they have honed razor-sharp reflexes.

Professional gaming site Dot Esports said while the average first-person shooter (FPS) player has a reaction time between 300-500 milliseconds, professionals can clock reaction times between 100-250 milliseconds.

A South African gamer’s reaction could be 50ms faster than his rival in London, but the latter’s proximity to the server means his action is detected first.

Performance hosting provider previously told MyBroadband that hosting a gaming server in South Africa was not a simple matter.

Generally, multiplayer games run on servers hosted by the game studios themselves, while some also offer the ability to host custom community servers.

That can incur a high cost and comes with another issue.

Due to South Africa having a comparatively small gaming community, local servers might not fill up sufficiently for a game to start.

Battle Royales like Fortnite and PUBG can have up to 100 players in a game, and Call of Duty: Warzone starts with up to 150 players.

While developers sometimes add bots to the mix, this can sour players’ feelings of accomplishment.

That leaves studios with a conundrum.

They could either offer localised servers that can result in gamers having to wait long in lobbies but enjoy low ping, or connect them to high latency overseas-based options that guarantee they will load into a game quickly.

Where you will get that sweet low ping

MyBroadband compiled a list of 25 popular online games to see how many offered official servers in South Africa.

We primarily focused on titles sensitive to latency, like those in the FPS and MOBA genres, and left out games that put players in a single team against enemy AI.

Only 8 out of the games we included provided official local servers, and even in those instances, some had caveats such as long waiting times.

The good news is that many of the titles had the option to create a locally-hosted private server or connect peer-to-peer.

Taking this into account, only 8 big games had no local server options in South Africa — Apex: Legends, Doom: Eternal, Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Sea of Thieves, and Valorant.

However, several of these titles are some of the most-played PC and console games in the world.

The table below shows which popular multiplayer video games had official South African and community servers as of May 2022.

Gaming servers in South Africa
Title Local South African servers Local custom servers or peer-to-peer
Apex: Legends No No
Ark: Survival Evolved No Yes
Battlefield V Yes, limited players  Yes
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Yes, limited to certain game modes Yes
Counter-Strike Global Offensive Yes Yes
Destiny 2 No Yes
Doom: Eternal No No
DOTA 2 No, unranked only Yes
Escape from Tarkov Yes No
FIFA 22 Yes No
Fortnite No No
GTA V No Yes
Halo: Infinite Yes No
League of Legends No No
Minecraft No Yes
Overwatch No No
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds No No
Rainbow Six: Siege Yes Yes
Red Dead Online No Yes
Roblox No Yes
Rocket League Yes No
Sea of Thieves No No
Team Fortress 2 No Yes
Valorant No No
Warframe No Yes

Now read: PlayStation Plus library — what South Africa will get for R179 per month

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These top games have servers in South Africa