It’s a set of rules that have helped keep the internet free, an open service for us all, and a way for us to do what we love to do without the tampering of our ISP’s. The guidelines, set of rules, and regulations put in place were established to keep ISP’s such as Verizon, Comcast, or even AT&T from suddenly blocking, throttling, or favoring traffic from a specified source.
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But why do us gamers have to worry about this? We are a big part of internet traffic, we are a multi-billion dollar industry in the eyes of internet service providers, and we are the very target that they are eyeballing when their votes go live on December 14th. Fortunately for us, Ajit Pai’s proposal isn’t the law of the land yet, and we do have a chance to trade a few blows, fight back, and make our voices heard.
If this plan is approved, we can expect the internet to slowly lose its once progressive nature, a nature that allowed for innovation, that allowed for companies to stand on equal ground, and offer a fair choice of choosing what internet service provider or ISP that we preferred. But just as it has been suggested all over the internet, a repeal like this would allow for companies such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon – among the many others out there – to do as they please such as higher fees, access to certain websites, or even make plans for specified online services.
Other words, we’d once more be stuck in a internet where ISP’s can legitimately screw gamers out of their experience, and make a package aimed at them? Don’t believe me? This is already happening in the country of Portugal and they can attest to the fact it sucks. Simply due to the fact the government backed down and let corporate entities once more run become unregulated and do as they please with the internet.This is a glimpse of just how bad it could get for gamers. While this is a wireless communications plan, this is still what ISP’s, and providers are doing in Portugal. If you don’t think Comcast or AT&T would do such a thing or introduce a “Premium Gaming Plan” or a “Premium Streaming Package”, don’t put it past them, this is already happening in other countries.
Such a package would mean that they could truly throttle online services in their favor outside of your favorite services. Services such as Twitch, Xbox Live. PlayStation Network, Battle.net, Steam, Netflix, and many more. For serious gamers, even us here at Blast Away the Game Review, we would have to pick a plan that would benefit us most. Even as a small-named group of writers, we would have to subscribe to a package that allows us to do what we wish.
This means we would have to even possibly find an ISP that benefits us most. For those of us in Oklahoma, we find ourselves struggling to find a proper high-speed internet outside of AT&T, Suddenlink, or Comcast. Because of this, we do struggle getting what we need, the service we want, and pushing ourselves just to how far we want to go. But what would you do if they decided to host games themselves and decided that games as a service is something in their book?Net Neutrality prevents them from doing one such thing. It keeps them from taking on gaming services to the extent they want to do so. Such a move could even hurt services such as PlayStation Now, EA Access, and even Xbox Game Pass, which are already available streaming services. While this is an extreme measure, it is possible, and companies would be insane not to jump in on this.
As digital games tend to get bigger, so does the need for users to have a large amount of bandwidth available to them. With 4K and HDR visuals becoming a go-to in visuals; the download sizes for these files are getting insanely massive. We already saw our download of Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited almost exceed 100GB’s on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, while we’ve also seen games such as id Software’s 2016 smash-hit DOOM quickly approach the 90GB limit.
Due to digital downloads getting this big and only getting bigger, we have to consider the fact that us gamers use a lot of bandwidth, and the ISP’s know this. Just like that high school bully after your money, the FCC and ISPs will want to hit you where it matters the most: your wallet. The FCC’s ruling on net neutrality will allow them to do this.
But don’t think gamers are the only ones affected by this. According to Studio Wildcard co-founder and co-creative director, Jeremy Stieglitz, told GamesIndustry.biz that it won’t just affect the gamers themselves, but the developers as well. That one such approach could hit smaller games such as Ark: Survival Evolved hard, since the network carriers decide on how they “can prioritize bandwidth to their own offerings,” he said, backing up his statement saying that “this performance degradation may not happen overnight, but it almost surely will happen once the carriers decide to commercially exploit the extreme power they will have been given.”
Other Developers are Concerned as well.
Whether you want to acknowledge that Net Neutrality is a big concern for the industry or something you should be concerned about as well; there are other developers that are concerned about the future of gaming if the FCC decided to repeal the Obama administration’s protections that they had put in place. Some are even concerned that ISP’s, as stated, could even introduced a “Premium Gaming Plan,” which would allow gamers to have access to their most used applications.
These applications could, as stated earlier, feature Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Nintendo Network, Twitch, Discord, and various other services that accompany gaming. While this does seem like it could be extreme, it may not be extreme, even Jason Citron, CEO of the gaming chat app Discord, has also spoken out during a discussion with Wired.
“Net neutrality is incredibly important for small startups like Discord because all internet traffic needs to be treated as equal for us all to have access to the same resources as the big companies.”
Even Jeremy Dunham, the VP of publishing for Psyonic (Rocket League) has spoken out about his thoughts on the repeal of Net Neutrality and what they fear it could do to the future of their game during a discussion with Comicbook.com:
“We will be watching the rules vote on December 14th very closely. Rocket League has millions of active monthly players and any law or scenario that could jeopardize people’s access to it is definitely a concern. We are hopeful that players will continue to have great access to our game.”
Internet Service Plans are Already Here with Data Limitations, but it can get Worse.
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we’re already struggling. ISPs already have data caps in place and most offer unlimited plans, which can see throttling after select speeds are met, or even penalties if you exceed a set amount of data usage. For some of us here at Blast Away the Game Review, we had to opt for an unlimited data package with our ISP, and even opt for a high speed package in order to have it. Don’t believe me? Take a peek at the pictures above.
These are just an idea of how the current day internet looks and an idea of how much worse it can get if the FCC overturns current regulations, which keep ISPs from fracturing the internet, and changing how we use it in today’s current society. So now it’s time for us to stand up and hopefully let our voices be heard as we fight to keep the internet how it is now.
Don’t believe this will happen? It will start with video, Comcast has already had this happen in one of their latest briefing releases from July of 2017, for if the Net Neutrality bill from 2015 is repealed with these subtle hints. You can take a look down below.
“[T]he Commission also should bear in mind that a more flexible approach to prioritization may be warranted and may be beneficial to the public. For example, a telepresence service tailored for the hearing impaired requires high-definition video that is of sufficiently reliable quality to permit users “to perceive subtle hand and finger motions” in real time. And paid prioritization may have other compelling applications in telemedicine. Likewise, for autonomous vehicles that may require instantaneous data transmission, black letter prohibitions on paid prioritization may actually stifle innovation instead of encouraging it. Commercial arrangements that entail prioritizing such traffic could ensure the low latency levels needed to achieve the high level of data quality necessary for such services to thrive.”
It’s our Time to Fight Back.
How can we fight according to everyone on this planet and event he minds from the studio behind Ark: Survival Evolved? To speak up against the FCC. To sign petitions, to write your senators, congressmen, and to even make yourself heard. So how can you do this? Head over to Save the Internet and find out just what you need to know in order to help save the internet from Ajit Pai and the FCC hearings on December 14th, 2017.
But why are we standing here fighting the way we are? As a journalism website, which uses the internet to run our website, to review games, and to stream; we also feel that innovation should remain free to everyone, that the people that use it, shouldn’t be hindered by the needs and desires of a corporate entity.
We feel that innovation is important and to help innovate, the internet needs to be free, it needs to allow for consumers to use it without the greed of corporate entities. So don’t be quiet. Stand up, let your voices be heard, and help keep your gaming experience free from throttling, free from the ISP’s from creating internet packages that benefit them the most.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.