ESA Joins the Fight for Net Neutrality

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ESA Joins the Fight for Net Neutrality

The Entertainment Software Association, the videogame industry’s de facto representative in legislative circles, has filed to join the existing lawsuit against the FCC following the agency’s decision to repeal net neutrality protections put in place by President Obama.

According to The Hill, the ESA applied to join the lawsuit earlier this week, stating that “fast, reliable and low latency connections … are critical to the videogames industry.” The organization went on to say, “Absent these protections, ESA and its member companies will have no effective legal recourse against broadband provider conduct that impairs consumers’ online videogame experience.”

These concerns have been highlighted by developers in the past, even those that the ESA doesn’t count among its member companies, which tend to skew toward the larger AAA developers and publishers of the industry. Speaking to GamesIndustry.Biz, Studio Wildcard’s Jeremy Stieglitz warned, “Anyone who cares about multiplayer online gaming should be up in arms about the … demise of net neutrality in the USA.” The ESA expressed further concern regarding the possible restrictions that online gaming could face without net neutrality protections, citing the capacity of ISPs “to engage in practices that degrade consumers’ traffic” and its impact spreading beyond online game modes to “cloud-based gameplay services.”

The ESA joins a collection of prominent web-based companies, such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, in the legal battle against the FCC and its chairman, Ajit Pai, who remains under investigation for his connections to Sinclair Broadcast Group. Pai served as legal counsel to Verizon, one of the ISPs that lobbies for the repeal of net neutrality, before joining the FCC.

While the ESA was heavily criticized by its industry for throwing its support behind last year’s widely derided tax reform bill, the decision shows that it does still have a percentage of the industry’s overall health and longevity on its mind. “ESA therefore supports enforceable open internet protections that have helped fuel dynamic growth, competition, and innovation in the videogame industry,” said the organization.