Hey guys and gals (“,)
AfriDude is in fact correct about the NATing and the reasons that it affects your gaming experience. We have been conducting continuous and intensive testing regarding the issue and I'm more than happy to share all background information and findings.
Firstly, more information about the consoles and the multiplayer system. The matchmaking system has changed things and the way this system works is by using Algorithms to match players based on a varying amount of factors including Geolocation, latency, experience, skill levels etc. Once these players have joined the lobby there is a further algorithm that decides who the host will be and the game begins to start. This is where the NAT type or profile becomes an issue as due to the rule sets.
There are 3 different rule sets for NATing (Simplified by the console): Strict, Moderate, Open. Everyone's Xbox must operate within these rules and herein lies the issue. As a result of matchmaking and lobbys (Private or Public) all users theoretically send traffic to and from each other unlike the usual Client to Server connection. Very similar to blood types and transfusions NATing rules have profiles they can or can't connect to. Strict can only connect with Strict, Moderate can connect with Strict and Moderate, Open can connect to all 3. This rule influences everyone in the lobby as if a player has strict NATing, he can only transmit data between himself and other strict users. Hence the reason that Open NATing is the recommended and best rule set to be part of.
There are many factors that influence your NAT status and as routers have evolved over the years they now use methods like UpnP to dynamically forward ports and traffic when required. This however also has its inconsistencies with the port ranges used by Xbox specifically. What is the alternative to this? You can turn off Upnp and do manual port-forwarding and there is a suggested list of ports and I can assure you that even when you do this you will have varying results unless you forward a few thousand ports forwarded.
Now the biggest argument and debate on this issue is whether its ISP specific or not. From first hand experience, over more sleepless nights than any man should suffer, I can tell you that this is definitely not ISP specific. You will find people saying “When I'm connected to my normal ISP account I have strict or moderate NATing and then I try another ISP and it goes away.” Yes, may very well be the case but your normal account is in use 99% of the time and you only dial the other ISP when you are having issues. I spent days switching between accounts while maintaining every other varible as constant. I then changed strategy and dedicated a full day of testing on each ISP account (5 in total so you can imagine) while changing other configurations. Across every account I was able to experience a period of Open, Moderate and Strict rule sets throughout the testing.
So whats the solution you ask? Well other than port forwarding all 65535 ports (Don't do this) there are a few other methods of forcing the Xbox to interpret Open NATing – Check out youtube manual NAT forcing. I have also been in contact with Microsoft and their team on a highly senior level to see if there is a fix to resolve this for everyone going forward.
If anyone else would like to contribute information, data or their experiences to the cause it would be greatly appreciated as we are all Gamers reading this and everyone would benefit.
I hope this article has been informative and clarified the long debated root cause.