Sandvine, an Internet research company, has observed an approximate 80% increase in the number of hosts using Xbox Live and an approximate 30% increase in Xbox Live traffic after the release of Gears of War. Below is a press release with further details:
Sandvine Identifies Surge In Xbox Live And iTunes Traffic
North American service providers observe 80% increase in Xbox Live users
London and Waterloo, Canada; December 5, 2006 -Sandvine Incorporated, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sandvine Corporation (TSX:SVC, AIM:SAND), identified a surge in Xbox Live and iTunes traffic on North American broadband networks following the release of new Xbox games and iTunes 7.
Through the use of its intelligent broadband network solution, Sandvine observed an 80% increase in the number of Xbox Live users across a sampling of North American-based broadband service providers' networks during the first week following the release of six new Xbox games. On November 7, 2006, Microsoft released six new games for Xbox, including the highly anticipated release of Gears of War, which sold 1-million copies in the first two weeks.
This spike in Xbox Live traffic following the launch of a highly anticipated game is reminiscent of Halo 2's release in 2004 (www.sandvine.com/news/pr_detail.asp?ID=65), marking the first boom in online gaming and resulting in the sustainable popularity of Xbox Live.
On September 12th, Apple released iTunes 7, enabling users to download full feature-length films onto their iPods. Based on data available to Sandvine at that time, North American broadband service providers saw an approximate 140% peak increase attributed to iTunes bandwidth usage in the wake of this release.
"The effect Gears of War and other games are having on networks indicates to service providers that online gaming is not just a craze. Their networks must be equipped to protect this increasingly valuable traffic from the effects of a best-effort network," says Dave Caputo, president and CEO of Sandvine. "Other multimedia applications like video downloads onto iPods are increasingly becoming popular, so service providers need to identify these trends early in order to proactively ensure there is adequate capacity to support the extra bandwidth usage."
Source - TeamXbox
I imagine MS would have more reliable numbers, but it really wouldn't surprise me at all if indeed these are accurate. Good news for XBL.