Game Developers Continue To Speak About The Importance Of Net Neutrality After Revised Comcast Statement

The revocation of Net Neutrality is something that should be concerning to all, including gamers. [...]


The revocation of Net Neutrality is something that should be concerning to all, including gamers. In simple terms, Net Neutrality is a policy that is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission and it is a system in place to make sure that all online services, including websites, are on equal footing. Users don't have to pay extra to access certain sites. Once again, this policy is under threat of removal. Want to check Facebook? That will be an extra $5 a month. Twitch? Extra. It's possible, and that's why many are rallying to ensure that the FCC does not vote to repeal this important program. It's also why more and more game developers are coming out about their own concerns.

Studio Wildcard co-founder Jeremy Stieglitz told Games Industry that people are right to be worried and that anyone invested in online gaming should be involved in making sure net neutrality stays in place:

"Anyone who cares about multiplayer online gaming should be up in arms about the imminent demise of net neutrality in the USA. It's completely destructive to the idea of fair and level competitive gameplay to have throttled bandwidth depending on whether you are a small title or a part of a big commercial enterprise.

Once the network carriers decide they can prioritize bandwidth to their own offerings above anything else, independent games such as Ark are likely to suffer. 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. Gamers everywhere should try fight this, to the extent that they can make their voices heard."

Back in 2014, Far Cry 3 and Child of Light writer Jeffrey Yohalem discussed how messy this situation really is and breaks it down even further with a simple comparison:

"I can't claim to be any kind of expert on this issue, but through my research on the puzzles of Assassin's Creed II, I delved into phone company and service provider practices. Their billing structures are draconian to say the least. In fact, when asked by the government to explain their rates, they direct officials to rooms in several different states full of files and claim that it is generally too complicated to unravel.

From what I gather, most of our phone services should be close to free at this point. I already know from direct experience that cell phone services in Canada cost $59 a month, while the same plan in the US costs $120. How does that make any sense, especially given that the US has a substantially larger pool of customers? Cars and other goods in Canada are more expensive due to the smaller market."

All of this is to say that any plan by service providers to charge for priority bandwidth is probably meant to increase already high profit margins. If service providers do not need the extra money to provide services, then why limit the wonderful freedom of the internet?

For most of my life the internet has been a place of free expression by all, a global public forum closer to the spirit of the ancient Roman forums —where anyone and everyone could speak their mind openly—than anything else in centuries. Especially when it comes to games, which take bandwidth to download rapidly and bandwidth to play online, any kind of extra charges could negatively impact the indie auteur scene. Basically, I am for both freedom of expression on behalf of creators and the consumer's right to decide his/her own priorities. Right now we are flooded with information, we don't need the prioritization of that information to be driven by money."

And then Brian Fargo from Wasteland 2:

"These net neutrality discussions are a stark reminder that our distribution fates still lie in the control of others. I expect our industry's bandwidth demands to increase as cloud based gaming becomes more mainstream, and at this point it's only a matter of time before these distribution forces start to focus on our needs and ways to monetize us better. Then it becomes a discussion of who is going to pass down these fees and who is going to absorb them."

And Hyper Light Drifter developer on how it will effect PC and console gaming:

"Paid prioritization for the internet indicates that the landscape of it will shift immensely, if the rules are instated. The internet could end up resembling fractured real-estate markets, or even cable television services (disgusting) where users pay a higher fee for premium content (streaming video, large market places), more than the level and relatively open repository of content and data it is now."

"You may see smaller services like GOG struggle to compete, as they'll need to pay for a fast enough lane to sate and retain its user base; games are only getting larger, and internet speeds, caps and costs in the US are already laughably bad."

"An even larger implication: the somewhat anemic (though changing) digital distribution model on consoles as a viable future would suffer as well. Costs go up to provide fast enough access (where Sony or Microsoft pay for the quicker lanes) to the gigs of data required for a modern game, and those costs get passed on to consumers and possibly publishers; one more knock against a model that platform holders are already somewhat trepidatious about."

Rocket League's studio, Psyonix, has also lent their voice to the masses:

"We will be watching the rules vote on December 14 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," said Jeremy Dunham."

Comcast, a popular internet provider, and one of the ones that stand to benefit from the revocation of Net Neutrality, made their position clear when this same scenario happened back in 2014. Then, they assured users that they would "never" offer paid prioritization for certain websites:

"To be clear, Comcast has never offered paid prioritization, we are not offering it today, and we're not considering entering into any paid prioritization creating fast lane deals with content owners."

That never was dropped and a new focus shifted to what they consider lawful content. Which may seem like not a negative thing, but the subjective grey area and the drop of "we will never" had many concerned:

We do not and will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content. We will continue to make sure that our policies are clear and transparent for consumers, and we will not change our commitment to these principles.

— Comcast (@comcast) November 22, 2017

For more information on why net neutrality is important and how you can lend your own voice to that protection, check out a good resource for info right here and make sure to call your representatives to let them know what you think!