End of net neutrality brings fear of internet packaging, microtransactions
Net neutrality is dead.
Like the thousands of corpses piled up in a regular play through of "Dark Souls," the idea of an internet free from possible content restrictions and throttling of internet service providers could very well fade into memory. As the video game industry has grown and expanded over the last 15 years, it has done so because of the internet. Online gaming in the form of Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network have helped build new giants of the industry.
Some of the most popular and enduring titles of the modern scene titles like "Call of Duty," "Battlefield" and "World of Warcraft" are intertwined with the world wide web. Publishers, developers, franchises have all lived and died by their online communities that became the beating heart of the industry.
With the ink still drying on Thursday's Federal Communications Commission declaration to reverse the 2015 net neutrality protections put in place by the Obama administration, the effects have yet to be felt and won't be felt for some time. It might take months or even years, depending on how proposed lawsuits move forward before we fully feel the impact of the end of net neutrality, but it's still a scary possibility for anyone who enjoys modern gaming.
In a report posted Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union warned of some of the dangers that the end of net neutrality poses. Providers can continue to abuse already established data caps by only counting data from certain sites or services against the cap and exempting others. They can charge monthly fees to use data from certain services. They can even completely block certain sites and services from being accessed by their services. Think of it as picking a television package from your cable or satellite provider. Where once the internet was completely open and accessible by any provider, its content may now be cut up and put into package deals.
These potential moves are especially concerning for those of us who game regularly or use streaming services, like Twitch, Mixer or YouTube. Video game sizes have continued to grow over the last two decades. A game made in 2003 could easily fit onto a 4.7 GB DVD, but titles now barely fit onto 50 GB Blu-ray discs. Almost every game released today also requires a hefty day one patch. Many even require said patch to function. Gamers have already contended with data caps and have continuously chafed against the idea of these bulging patches and the ever-constricting data caps.