While this is more tech than gaming related, it still affects gaming regardless. In fact, for both PC and console gamers it's kind of the crux between being skeptical of an all-digital future and embracing it. According to a new book by Pulitzer prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnson, Americans pay four times the amount for net access than the French and 38 times more for net access than the Japanese. What's worse is that us Yanks rank 29th in the world for net speed. Something isn't adding up here.
One of the underlying issues that gamers (here Stateside) have with that glorious “all digital” future companies like Ubisoft, Crytek and EA keep pushing for is that net speeds just haven't come up to par. What's worse are all the data caps and overage charges, which would effectively force gamers to keep a gauge on what they download, how long they play and how much they play (many of us already monitor how many games we download a month thanks to those wonderful data caps).
According to a nice little piece by DSL Reports, the very thing that consumers grumble and groan about regarding pricing and availability is called into question, and it appears the whole lack of pro-consumer support in journalism seems to extend beyond video games and into every other corporately influenced sector.
As reported in the article, Americans are paying an arm and a leg for crappy service compared to many other parts of the world, even economically smaller developing countries, which is just sad and pathetic. Check out the stats regarding America's broadband reality gathered from Johnson's book, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use 'Plain English' to Rob You Blind [via Tech Dirt]...
* Americans pay four times as much as the French for an Internet triple-play package—phone, cable TV and Internet—at an average of $160 per month versus $38 per month.
Bulgaria has one of the fastest net services eh? Hm. Just like with the issue of publisher entitlement in the gaming industry, I suppose the biggest problem with this scenario is how media plans to approach the problem. It's quite sad because in this case gaming media can't do much about it since the problem extends into the broader scope of the tech sector.
What's more is that this very issue does play a big part in that always-on, cloud-based future so many companies have been trying to vie for. Of course, let's not forget that one of the main reasons that cloud gaming is still a ways off is because of the data rates and costs -- streaming HD gaming isn't cheap -- as pointed out by several OnLive users and briefly hinted at every so often in gaming media.
Best case scenario is that maybe regulations will be put in place to break the monopoly in America's net access arena. Worst case scenario is that the all-digital future gets put into place and internet access and rates continue to skyrocket with all sorts of silly stipulations, demarcations and usage fees.
For us poor Americans, we either have to hope retail gaming continues to stave off that all-digital future just a little while longer or corporations stop with the silly monopolizing and feeding off consumers with piss-poor service and high-rates just because they can.