A battle has been waged in the United States for a few days, which will define the short and long-term future of Internet service as we know it. The video game industry, obviously, is related to this situation and a possible change in the ideas and legal framework that underpin the freedom of the network would impact the gaming experience, especially in an era where multiplayer and games as a service are gaining important ground. In that sense, Studio Wildcard and Psyonix expressed their concerns about the dispute of the end of Net Neutrality.
The neutrality of the Internet is a basic principle that has regulated the freedom of access to existing content in the network. Although some companies have implemented access models with cost, which offer certain benefits to those who pay, the reality is that every user can access the content in one way or another. This principle has allowed the growth and development of a free network, without restrictions, as we know and enjoy today and has a current legal framework that was established in 2010.
However, on December 14, the Federal Communications Commission of U.S (FCC), led by Ajit Pai, will try to pass a proposal in Congress in which the regulations and principles that shape Net neutrality will disappear as such and this could open up scenarios in which service providers could control access, speed of the same and blocking of content.
A situation of this kind, inevitably, would impact the video game industry and more to those who now have large communities thanks to its multiplayer components. That is why a couple of studios expressed their position on the problem.
Jeremy Stieglitz, co-founder and creative director of Studio Wildcard, responsible for ARK: Survival Evolved, said the following regarding this issue: “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,” Stieglitz further stated.
On the other hand, Jeremy Dunham, vice president of publications of Psyonix, famous for the title of Rocket League, expressed his concern: “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.”
Thus, we must be attentive to what happens in the US on December 14.