Online gaming is a huge industry. The biggest names and titles can take in revenues equivalent to a summer blockbuster. In some cases, sales of a game can even exceed the sales of tickets for a hit movie. One of the driving forces behind this boom in the gaming industry is online connectivity, and the opportunities it brings.

Online multiplayer has become a huge part of the video gaming experience. While many titles, including recent hit God of War, focus on a core single player experience, it's not unusual to see the ability to connect to other people around the world be the center of the gameplay. And that brings to mind a question. Should you play wireless or with a cable?

What Does Online Gaming Need?
When you're playing online competitively, you need your inputs on your end to reflect immediately on what you're controlling. Even the slightest delay can cost you the game. If your connection decides to take a break for even a moment, you might stall in-game or the game might drop you because it assumed you've disconnected and quit. These are things gamers would prefer to avoid.

Even for a single-player experience, online connectivity might still be used. Some games might need patches downloaded to fix errors. Downloadable content can add entirely new segments of a game. Some titles have a strong single-player core but allow for minor elements from other players. An example of this would be the ability to read messages left behind by other players in Dark Souls, usually as a warning of traps ahead.

Technical Requirements
Online gaming has a few technical requirements. You need to keep track of the ping, the latency, and the lag. All of these things are tied to your bandwidth and require some sort of configuration so the game can play at optimal online connectivity.

Ping is a designated tool for diagnosing network connections. A single instance of it sends a packet of data between participants. It measures how long it takes for the data to get to the intended target, along with how much time is spent for a response to get back. The higher the ping, the slower the recognition of the inputs a player puts into the game. This can be problematic when a game requires split-second timing.

So What’s Better?
With that in mind, what would be the better choice for gaming? In general, wired connections are seen as a more stable option. However, it's no secret that wireless technology is improving and getting faster and more stable. Which of the two is the better option for the hardcore gamer?

Wireless Weakness
Wireless access is easier to disrupt. Some materials used in construction, particularly in older buildings, tend to block wireless and radio signals. This can cause your connection to be slow if you're not in the same room as the source of the access as you play the game. This limits your options for where you can play, despite the fact that wi-fi theoretically lets you play wherever you please.

Wired Weakness
There is one weakness that should concern people about wires, though. This is the risk of electromagnetic interference if you're running copper cables. EMI is going to disrupt the signal and the consistency of the transmission, so where you place the cables and gaming devices will matter. Avoid running parallel to electrical conduits and lines when possible to reduce the risk.

Wired Is More Stable
Both connection types are easy enough to rig together and reliable, given modern tech. However, wireless connections are still much more stable and can power a whole home network without much hassle or complexity. This means that you're not limited to just a single console connecting online at a given time, provided you have enough cables from Wireless connections are great, but you can expect a greater variance in speed and reliability.

When Is Wireless Good?
This doesn't mean wireless is never going to be a good idea, of course. There are instances when it's fine to use wireless for multiplayer. The key point here is how much data is being transmitted and how fast. As with so many details of the gaming industry, your experience will vary based on the game you play.

Some multiplayer games are more passive and don't require split-second timing, such as some of the multiplayer elements of the hit game Dark Souls. In some games, the action is asynchronous and the players involved don't even need to be online at the same time. In these instances, wireless access is perfectly fine since you won't need the power and bandwidth provided by a wired connection.

In the end, a wired connection still beats a wireless one. The stability and consistency of data transfer are too hard to beat. The superior bandwidth also means that it doesn't matter how much data gets sent because the connection can handle it. Wireless does have a place for games where speed and timing are less critical, but for competitive gaming, you still want to get wired.