Is your online gaming experience in jeopardy?
What would you do if your online gaming experience was determined by your internet provider and not whether a server was dedicated or not? You may soon be given the opportunity to find out, as Virgin Media’s CEO, Neil Burkett, has decided “this net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks.” Burkett happens to also run a cable operator that provides around 3.6 million people in the UK with internet service. What makes this dangerous is the fact that Virgin is already in talks with unnamed content providers about having their content delivered faster than companies that aren’t willing to pay for the privilege. So, in theory, this could result in us, as PlayStation Network users, being limited in our access speed to online games such as Warhawk, Call of Duty 4, Rock Band and the like.
A small scale example of what is potentially about to occur is something that happened within the community of YouTube.com. YouTube was at one time deleting non-partner videos from the top viewed lists in order to make room for their partner’s videos. This lead to a decently-sized outrage from not only a few users, but from the YouTube community itself, and eventually lead to a changed approach to the situation. While this may only affect a small few, the idea of funneling more views to one channel over another is a similar problem to what Virgin is thinking about implementing but on a much larger scale.
One of the YouTube channels that spurred the revolt was AtheneWins, which is created and ran by a group of individuals out of Belgium, who also happen to support a thought they created called, I Power. I Power is based around the belief that every individual has the right to make the changes to be who they want to be. They’re also known internationally for their political endeavors under the name NEE.
I Power has recently started a “Stop Virgin” movement to prevent this incident from ever taking place. They realize that this is something all ISPs have been trying to achieve, yet none have ever blatantly stated it like Virgin Media. They understand that if Virgin succeeds in regulating your internet usage like television networks decide what you get to see on TV and what you don’t, the global trend will then begin and this will eventually affect everyone around the world. I sought out a comment from I Power in regards to this issue and were provided with the following:
“In a climate without net neutrality, you'll have big online games like World of Warcraft offering an enjoyable experience since their developers have the budget to reserve their high-bandwidth spot with all the ISP's but you'll have the ISP's actually crippling the traffic of online games that are not on their partner-list. It's a logical result of all data traffic being commercially prioritized. Several high-profile inside sources have actually let us know that you may not even have access to non-partnered servers/sites without additional payment to your ISP, we have some new info on that which we discussed in a recent I Power clip.”
By now, you’re probably figuring out how this could eventually affect you and the joys you get from online gaming. Well, what if one of these ISPs decided that Call of Duty 4 only promotes war and violence and thus chooses to make your experience on the server sluggish? You’ll be playing on a delayed connection while everyone around you will be taking you down before you even see them coming. Is that something you’d enjoy? What if Activision wasn’t willing to pay for Virgin’s subscribers to have speedy access to their online games? The possibilities on how this could eventually change online gaming and lower its appeal to the user are endless.
Do you want this happening to you?!
One of the biggest suppliers of an online world for gamers is Activision Blizzard and through their title, World of Warcraft, they have amassed over ten million subscribers to their service. I decided to get in contact with their online department in order to find out how this could eventually affect their userbase and they were kind of enough to give us a reassuring comment.
“The online performance of our games ... (continued on next page)
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