The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will be voting to kill the Net Neutrality Rules that are currently in effect around two weeks. Current laws that keep internet service providers from offering packages for users to access specific websites faster or slow access to non-partnered sites will be replaced by Chairman Ajit Pai’s latest proposal.
This proposal would loosen the laws on what internet service providers can do, opening up the web to become more like cable TV with all the packaged (something already in effect in Portugal) instead of a set price for internet access.
While companies like Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Sonos, Sphero, and over 200 other businesses and trade organizations pleaded for the internet to remain accessible to all in a letter to FCC Chariman Ajit Pai, game developers have begun raising their concerns for their communities.
Jeremy Stieglitz, the co-founder and co-creative director of Studio Wildcard, the studio behind ARK: Survival Evolved told Games Industry that anyone who has an investment in online gaming should be concerned with the proposed repeal of net neutrality.
“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.”
The Vice President of Publishing at Psyonix, the studio behind Rocket League, also spoke on their concerns for their player base. “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.
Game developers, companies, and netizens have been speaking up against the proposal, but it appears as though Comcast is already planning their strategy for after net neutrality is repealed.
According to a report from Ars Technica, Comcast has maintained that they have never and will never offer paid prioritization, but their recent promise on their services has left a few loopholes.
Comcast’s statement from 2014:
“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.”
Their most recent statement:
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. pic.twitter.com/19PFCPJ3TY
— Comcast (@comcast) November 22, 2017
Comcast has turned from “never” to not discriminating against what it decides to be “lawful content.” On top of that, they state they will not impose “anti-competitive paid prioritization.” This now leaves room for Comcast to offer ‘paid prioritization’ for some services.