The end of net neutrality has countless long-term implications for the future of the Web, but the gaming crowd could be one of the first groups to actually see noticeable changes firsthand. Although the Xbox One backlash helped save us all from a digital-only console generation, hefty downloads and updates are still a major factor for owners of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and even the Wii U. Now that Internet providers will have the opportunity to clamp down on data usage, the new consoles are faced with a frightening predicament.
Forbes contributor Dave Thier has outlined some of the reasons why the end of net neutrality could threaten next-gen gaming and many of the services we were prepared to rely on.
If providers are able to throttle data usage, the reality of downloading a 40-50GB game from the digital storefront of a console for the same price as a physical copy could come to an end. Thier hypothesizes that extra charges could be placed anything a console does that involves heavy bandwidth usage, from downloads to updates to online gaming.
Other services could run into trouble as well, such as the recently revealed PlayStation Now. Neither the PS4 or the Xbox One are backwards compatible with games from older consoles, but Sony has built a solution that could give gamers access to thousands of classic titles without having to download them. Unfortunately, streaming full games over Wi-Fi is another major source of bandwidth usage, and could be a prime target for providers.
“Internet Service Providers won very big yesterday, but everyone else is now in a more precarious position,” wrote Their. “There will be extra costs in gaming, whether companies choose to absorb them themselves or pass them on to consumers.”