Technically, your ping is a two-way measurement; it includes the full to-the-ISP-and-back loop.
As for those games, 500ms, if that's your ping, will be fine; 1 second would be tolerable; PvP will be markedly harder than PvM with a higher latency. Most MMOs don't require good reflexes. Ultima Online would be a different story, though.
It does depend on what kind of game you are going to want to play to be honest. Personally I prefer to play FPS' which obviously require quick reactions and I find in those games anything over 100ms can be severely detrimental.
WOW still has a live action element to to, though it's not quite as intense as an FPS so I'm guessing you could get away with upto 200-250ms ping (I've not spent much time playing this so it's only an estimate btw). I must state though even if it's playable it could get frustrating.
Going further up the scale, turn based strategy or slow paced RTS' could probably stand up to even higher pings. I've dabbled in the DEFCON demo (fairly slow RTS) and I've battled through some pretty steep ping times (~400ms) and still enjoyed the game.
Since there are plenty of cheaper, older games with online capability from all kinds of genres I'd suggest actually buying a game and using it as a benchmark for your connection - it'd be worth a try.
As someone who still occasionally plays on dialup, some insight. A great deal depends on the type, and play style you take. Lets take Diablo 2 for an example, as it's WOW like, and something you can try without an account.
A close combat barbarian is a poor choice, because you're going to face the latency every click.
A sorceress with blizzard is a better choice. You still have the latency of the initial click, but afterwards, the spell goes automatically.
For a summons druid, or a necromancer with lots of critters, the critters are server side, and not affected by your latency.
You're going to have to lead targets more, and recognize situations a full second before they happen, but it's quite possible.
For WoW, 500ms is fine (except PvP perhaps). It is what I am having from where I am from. Anything beyond can be quite bad depending on how many people are there in the group.
I think the most important thing is consistency. If your latency is consistant at around the 500ms region, it is much better than having a variation of 500ms to 2,000ms (I had that before I changed my ISP).
any latency is a bad thing on any game.
so the lower the better in that case.
at what point does a game become unplayable?.
for an fps anything over 150 is considered high and anything over 200 will make the game unplayable on a server with up to 64 players.
on slower paced games like wow you can play with a ping over 250 but really you want it under 50 as you would with any game. if your ping is over 100 and your in the same country you need to check your connection.
a normal ping in the uk should be under 50 up to 500 miles away depending on which isp your have. virgin offers the least latency as they have there own cable network. mine for instance from newcastle down to london is 15-37 depending on which server im connected too. but my bro inlaw has a bt line with sky and his latencey is double mine everywhere. this immediatly puts him at a disadvantage.
if my ping goes over 70 on a black ops server i just log off as it really will affect my game.
on bfbc2 anything over 150 and i log off as dice use a much more stringent ping balance system than infinity ward. the game tries to give every 1 a 150 ping. even going as far as introducing latency by delaying packet data.
from the uk to the u.s your ping should be about 130 at New York and 170 at the most in California.
if your getting 300+ ping on a uk based server and your a uk resident. check your router and ask your isp if there is a fault on the line.
pings of 2000 is usually associated with dongle connections to a mobile network. this is no use to a gamer and should never be used. not only will it affect your game but every 1 who connects to the server your on. as latency is cumulative
if you have 2-4 players on a server with 500+ pings they will cause every 1 to lag
other factors that can affect your ping. not being the root hub for your home network. being on a home network. wireless connection to the router and not being connected directly to the modem. will all affect ping in varing amounts.
literally the best way to game is on a fiber optic cable network, that is straight to your modem and then via a short wire to your eithernet card in your pc.
so my answer would be, no. its not worth trying to play online with such a high ping.
I live out in the boonies, so I can't get a regular high speed internet connection (DSL, etc.). What I can get is satellite internet.
The problem here though, is the time it takes for the signal to go from my house, up to the satellite, to the ISP, back to the satellite, and down to my computer. This time is roughly 1 second!
So, half that time would be a 500ms ping, right? Thats really bad, isn't it?
My question is, could I still do some online gaming (like WOW, or Guild wars) with this kind of latency.
Or put it another way, would you want to play a game with someone with that much lag? I know games tend to minimize reaction time for this, but still 500ms is a lot.
What say you, yea or nay?
I will say in WoW you will be fine in solo content. Also in 5man/raid as dps you should be fine. I know as a healer or tank 500ms can be hard because your heals can be late or you can move late as a tank and its a wipe. at 1000ms I cant heal or tank at all and playing is just not fun.