Hardware and Gear

Published on April 30th, 2014 | by Ben Rueter

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Faster on Xbox One

The Federal Communication Commission recently proposed the new net neutrality rules, which could allow Internet service providers to charge companies for special access to consumers giving them faster speeds, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

 

The FCC said these new rules would let companies like Microsoft or Netflix to pay ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner for a “fast lane” to send data to their customers.

 

In an article from Ars Technica, in which the FCC responded, the FCC said, “The NPRM [notice of proposed rulemaking] will propose, consistent with the Court’s analysis, that broadband providers would be required to offer a baseline level of service to their subscribers, along with the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers.”

 

If the regulations were passed, the FCC would like to have them in place by the end of the year.

 

Streaming video on Netflix is one thing; streaming multiplayer for video games is another beast.

 

These proposed rules paint a dire picture for the future of online multiplayer and it could result in a few bad scenarios.

 

The new regulations create two traffic lanes for data; one super fast lane and a slower lane. You can imagine companies like Activision-Blizzard paying more to maintain a quality means of service for World of Warcraft while a smaller company may have to settle for subpar speeds for their multiplayer games due to the high costs associated with a “fast lane.”

 

Take for example, Valve’s Steam makes a deal with Verizon to allow fast data transfer through Steam clients. This way only a Verizon subscriber would have access to quicker transfers while someone on Time Warner would have a bumpy connection while playing Dota 2.

 

This scenario would cause more fragmentation in the market and ultimately more confusion.

 

The most likely scenario is that Microsoft, Sony, etc. would have to raise fees for their services.

 

This could be as simple as pay and you receive multiplayer access or pay to play on a faster connection with a premium account. Microsoft already requires a fee for their online services, but having a gold account for Xbox Live doesn’t give you a faster connection. It offers you only more content.

 

If Microsoft has to cover the cost to allow faster speeds for the new Call of Duty, you bet they will do that. If they don’t, what’s stopping Sony from opening up a “fast lane” for CoD and touting that “Call of Duty is better on Playstation Network with fast streams.”

 

“Better with Kinect” might as well be replaced with “Faster on Xbox One.”

 

It’s all speculation at this point, but it could only heighten the console game exclusives battle. Both Sony and Microsoft are already hustling for timed exclusive content. It doesn’t seem too farfetched for them to claim their console has the faster connection, thus “true fans” will want to play on their console.

 

This whole ordeal will change video games for the worse. Right now, people can play video games online without having to worry if their connection is better than the person playing across the country. Yes, connections do vary, but it allows people to play TitanFall with a solid connection as well as people who want to play War Thunder, a free online WWII flight simulator with a quality connection.

 

Choosing between PSN and XBL will be like choosing the ISP that fits your console or PC.

 

The FCC did say that ISPs would be required to reveal how they handle traffic and how much they charge companies for access to fast lanes.

 

In a blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said there has been “a great deal of misinformation” about the new rules. He continued to say the rules would not permit “behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet.”

 

Keeping the Internet open has been a lofty fight since 2010, but as long as my ISP or content provider like Xbox Live is charging me for data, they have no right to control what data I get. Or how fast I receive it.

 

The FCC needs to go back to the drawing board if this is how they want to regulate the net.

 


About the Author

Ben Rueter has been writing for a number of years ranging from video game pieces online to traditional journalism articles as well. Every since he got his hands on an Atari 2600 and learned his way around DOS, he’s been keeping up with all kinds of video games. Ben is also an avid movie fan from classic Sergio Leone to Charlie Kaufman movies.



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