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ESA joins battle for net neutrality

E3 organiser and games lobbying group files to participate in lawsuit against Federal Communications Commission

The video games industry will be represented in the ongoing fight against the decision to end net neutrality in part by the Entertainment Software Association.

Back in December, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that it would overturn the policy introduced during Barack Obama's tenure as US President, and in doing so give internet service providers more control over people's access to the web.

Without net neutrality, ISPs will be able to block, throttle or favour traffic from one source over another, as well as adjust their charges however they see fit - likely meaning that some customers will no longer be able to afford basic net access.

According to political news site The Hill, the ESA applied to join the lawsuit against the FCC earlier this week, calling for the organisation to reverse its decision and arguing that "fast, reliable and low latency connections... are critical to the video games industry."

We've previously spoken to multiple developers about the severe impact this could have on games and the companies behind them, with Studio Wildcard's Jeremy Stieglitz saying that: "Anyone who cares about multiplayer online gaming should be up in arms about the... demise of net neutrality in the USA."

In the ESA's filing, the organisation said: "Absent these protections, ESA and its member companies will have no effective legal recourse against broadband provider conduct that impairs consumers' online video game experiences.

"In particular, broadband providers are now permitted to engage in practices that degrade consumers' traffic. That, in turn, could have significant consequences for the enjoyment of multiplayer online games and cloud-based gameplay services, both of which require low latency connections to support rapid and continuous interactivity.

"Unlike streamed movies or music, games cannot be buffered to compensate for problems with the broadband connection. Degradation of consumers' traffic could also impact game distribution networks, which depend upon adequate and consistent bandwidth to deliver large file downloads in a timely manner. ESA therefore supports enforceable open internet protections that have helped fuel dynamic growth, competition, and innovation in the video game industry."

Other firms joining the lawsuit against the FCC include Facebook, Google and Amazon.

Even without the lawsuit, there are efforts being made to counteract the FCC's decision. Last month, Washington state passed its own laws to restore net neutrality.

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