Metal Gear Online? More like Metal Slug Online…

Firstly, let me apologize for the teeth grindingly appalling title but I’m sat in front of an update downloading screen for Konami’s Metal Gear Online premier Beta and it’s taking a lifetime, and I’m not the only one. When you’ve downloaded and installed the beta the first thing that will happen is on start up you’ll be prompted to update the software. Fair enough. You’re then given one of two download options, P2P (bit torrent) or HTTP (from their server).

Konami has tried to be very clever, anticipating the high demand and volume of downloads they have realized it would make a lot of sense to have gamers download from one another rather than everyone suddenly making a run on their servers slowing them down to the speed of a tortoise wading through a sea of thick, sloppy disappointment.

Sadly, there are pros and cons of each method and a giant trap for us all to tumble in to. Firstly, if everyone opts to download via P2P then everyone will get it super fast. However, if hardly anyone uses it, then those that do will find themselves riding on the back of our friend, the tortoise.

The HTTP download works the other way round, if everyone goes for that then the servers over at Konami HQ will start to spit, splutter and smoke; giving no one a decent download speed. But, if out of charity and communal spirit no one does that and opts for P2P then the HTTP download will be über fast. Get it?

So basically, Konami’s utopia is loads of people want the game so they all go P2P, have super fast downloads and live happily ever after. However, as rudimentary Game Theory will tell you, not everyone will share that communal ethos and may opt for a more selfish alternative. If everybody thinks everybody else will go for P2P then they themselves may go HTTP, taking advantage of the low server traffic and outsmarting all those suckers uploading and downloading from one another. Of course, if everyone thinks they’re the smart one and has similar ideas then we’ll see high server traffic and low sharing, meaning both are as slow as hell and nobody wins. With 1% completed after about an hour of P2P downloading this seems to be what is happening right now. At the current speed, it would be quicker for me to go to Japan, get a taxi to Konami HQ, download it onto my memory stick and then fly back home to install it.

How could Konami have solved this? Well there are a few things they could have done: First of all, just had P2P and then a few dedicated uploaders in each region (or worldwide depending on how they’re working it) so someone was always around to upload from. Secondly, they could have just gone HTTP like the rest of the world and bought more servers because come June the traffic is going to get a lot busier than it is now. Thirdly, they could have had both, but limit the number of HTTP downloaders and default the rest to P2P. And finally, they could have defaulted to P2P and if traffic was especially low THEN (and only then) made HTTP available.

Whatever they could have done there was one thing they shouldn’t, under any circumstances, have done in a million years: Given consumers the choice. Because you can’t expect us to be a charitable (or even logical) lot and do the world a favor by sharing our hard earned Onternets.

Oh, and in other news those who got 9-digit beta keys rather than the 12-digit key thats needed did so because of a printing error. Sorry. If you have got a 9-digit key just pop on over to www.konami-data.com/support/ and give them your 9-digit key along with a return email address.

[See also: Metal Gear Online gallery]

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