Online gamers: without net neutrality you're so hosed

That's "World Of Warcraft: Eye Of The Storm."You may think this is a pretty cool experience, but try it on an Internet without net neutrality guarantees.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

That's "World Of Warcraft: Eye Of The Storm."

You may think this is a pretty cool experience, but try it on an Internet without net neutrality guarantees. 

In one of the other places I hang my blogger hat, I wrote a post this morning about a study by technology consultancy Ramp^Rate that says online gaming would be the main victim of a broadband environment without net neutrality.

Authors Tony Greenberg and Alex Veytsel say that while VoIP transmission models will have to be revised if net neutrality is not enacted into law, it is online gaming that "will die."

"What will be murdered with no fallback or replacement is the nascent market of interactive entertainment – particularly online gaming," the authors write. "Companies like Blizzard Entertainment (WoWcraft) Electronic Arts, Sony Online Entertainment, and countless others, have built a business on the fundamental assumption of relatively low latency bandwidth being available to large numbers of consumers.

"Furthermore, they add, a large — even overwhelming — portion of the value of these offerings comes from their “network effects” — the tendency for the game to become more enjoyable and valuable as larger number of players joins the gaming network.

The authors then put out what they ominously call a "worst case scenario" that involves "three waves of change:"

One or more mainstream ISPs will introduce excessive lag that will effectively prohibit their users from participating in online games. The move will not be aimed at restricting usage per se, but rather to extract a fee from the game operator. However, as the Cablevision and YES dispute of 2002 showed us a fee disagreement between a cable company and content provider can effectively lock out the use of a popular service for over a year;

As online gaming guilds, clans, and partners disappear into the rifts created in the Internet fabric, players that derive value from the community of the game rather than the playing experience per se will drop off. This vicious cycle of scarcity of users will lead to diminished enjoyment for existing users which will lead to still fewer users, until more games follow Asheron’s Call to oblivion (tiered services charged by broadband Internet access providers).

Hardcore users will write strongly worded messages to their ISPs, who will classify them as unreasonable malcontents using more than their share of bandwidth.

Poll time.

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