Q&A: MWEB gaming manager on Battlefield 3 local servers

Local Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3 gamers rejoiced in the fact that MWEB is bidding to host dedicated console gaming servers for the two games in South Africa.

A screenshot of EA's Battlefield 3 (image: EA)

The hosting of local servers will result in lower latency, which means that gamers will be on the same footing as their international opponents. Getting local servers into the country is a fairly complicated process, but while no deals have been signed between MWEB and DICE, Desmond Kurz, online gaming manager at MWEB, is still hopeful – and updated us on the current status.

1. What difficulties are MWEB facing in getting the servers here?

Console servers for EA games have never been hosted in South Africa, to the best of our knowledge, so it’s breaking the mould that is always challenging. The online gaming market is still relatively small in South Africa in comparison to North America and Europe, which makes it challenging to get servers for South Africa prioritised as a business imperative with large global concerns like Electronic Arts. Saying that, the local Electronic Arts team have been incredibly supportive in backing our bid and facilitating discussions with their overseas counterparts.

2. How will local servers benefit the South African gaming community?

I think as the local Gears of Wars 3 players will confirm, there was a dramatic improvement in online game play after the South African servers for that title went live. We can expect this same kind of improvement when local console servers are deployed for Battlefield 3 and game play is then less dependent on international links (some international connectivity will most likely still be required for stats collection and authentication).

3. How important is it to have local servers?

Well, you can still play Battlefield 3, so it’s not crucial in getting an online game going, but as I mentioned, the reduced latency of connecting to a local server should dramatically improve the online game play.

4. What process does MWEB have to go through in order to get local gaming servers?

We’ve put together formal proposals through to EA outlining our significant experience and investment in the hosting of online game and content servers.

5. Will MWEB be taking care of administration and maintenance of the servers?

The details of that, in our experience, will be ironed out once the hosting agreements are drafted up.

6. When will the first local BF3 servers go live?

Not applicable at this stage.

7. Which consoles will be supported?

We are pursuing both PS3 and XBOX variants.

8. Where will the servers be hosted?

Not applicable at this stage, but most likely in our Johannesburg or Cape Town data centres, possibly both.

9. From a business aspect, how important is this for MWEB?

All gamers are important to MWEB, so we want to do whatever we can to make their online game play as optimal as possible.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor