World of Warcraft is an enormously popular MMORPG game, or massively multiplayer online role playing game. The game is entirely played over the Internet in a world containing thousands of other players on a single server, for a total of around 12 million on all servers around the world combined. There is no offline component to the game. For those who are concerned about the bandwidth usage, the following should shed some light on the facts.
Average Bandwidth Used
The average amount of bandwidth used depends largely on how you play the game. Simply put, the more crowded an area is, the more bandwidth will be being used up by the game. You can check the amount of bandwidth in use by mousing over the computer icon at the bottom of the Warcraft taskbar. For the most part, the average bandwidth will be around five kilobytes per second.
Highest Bandwidth Used
The game can get much more bandwidth-intensive in certain situations. When you are in a battleground like "Alterac Valley," "Tol'Barad" or "Wintergrasp," for example, the bandwidth used skyrockets. This is because there can be as many as 80 people, and sometimes even more, in the same area at the same time. The game may use as much as 30 kilobytes per second download rate at this time and on slower broadband connections, lag spikes may become an issue.
Bandwidth Used During Raids
Raids are either 10-man or 25-man. Unsurprisingly, the 25-man raids use more bandwidth due to more players being present at the time. Raiding, however, effectively uses the most bandwidth of all time spent on WoW, in many cases. This is because players raiding often use voice communications software such as "Ventrilo" or "TeamSpeak" or even "Skype." These applications use upwards of 30 kilobytes per second by themselves.
Patches and Expansions
World of Warcraft is a living, dynamic world. Every few months, a major content patch is released which provides new dungeons, raids and/or a plethora of other features, rather like a miniature expansion pack in itself. The game must always be running with the latest patch, or it will not be able to connect. The patches are often several hundred megabytes in size while full expansions are upwards of four gigabytes. The amount of bandwidth required to download the necessary data in a timely fashion is, therefore, huge. The same is true of the streaming version of the game, in which data is downloaded as you play the game.