A group of online game developers have penned a letter to The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlining some of the group’s areas of concern as related to Net Neutrality.
The letter (PDF) consists of notes taken from a meeting between four government officials and Dan Scherlis of Scherlis.com (formerly of Turbine), John Radoff of GamerDNA, Christopher Dyl of Turbine, Kent Quirk of Linden Labs, Matthew Bellows of Vivox and Darius Kazemi of the Independent Game Developers Association (IGDA).
Quirk and Dyl emphasized that a focus on latency, not bandwidth, was one of their main concerns, with Dyl also mentioning that interconnections between ISPs can still be a “huge problem” for game developers, though it was generally agreed that most developers have designed their games to operate adequately on the existing network.
Radoff worried that if the Internet was balkanized, or fragmented, developers would have to waste time negotiating separately with each ISP, which would eat away at development resources. Quirk agreed with this point, using mobile applications as an example:
Mr. Quirk asserted that this point is illustrated by the fact that it is relatively easy to develop a mobile application for one phone, like the iPhone, but extremely difficult to develop an application for all phones and mobile networks.
Arguing for more transparency from ISPs, Dyl noted that Turbine was routinely blocked by ISPs that detected high UDP traffic from the game developer. The ISPs “apparently decided to block the traffic and wait to see who complained. Mr. Scherlis noted that not all companies have the resources to identify blocks or to persuade ISPs to stop blocking.”
Dyl also reported on a problem with Chinese online games—the two major ISPs have poor interoperability, leading to problems when a gamer on one ISP tries to play on a server hosted on the other ISP.
Scherlis indicated that a pay-for-priority setup with ISPs would be “acceptable,” but only if “all developers could purchase prioritization on equal terms.” Bellows worried that such a setup would “restrict competition for development of QoS [Quality of Service]-dependent applications to well-financed companies or those already dominant in the sector.”
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