ESA Sues to Restore Net Neutrality Rules, Says Repeal Could Harm Multiplayer Online Games

Net Neutrality

WASHINGTON – The video gaming lobbying group Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is seeking to join a lawsuit challenging the recent repeal of net neutrality rules.

The lawsuit, filed by Democratic state attorneys general, tech companies such as Mozilla, and consumer advocacy groups, seeks to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) December 2017 vote to eliminate net neutrality rules.

The ESA, which represents Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Disney, and Warner Bros., says without net neutrality, gaming companies "will have no effective legal recourse against broadband provider conduct that impairs consumers’ online video game experiences. 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 game play services, both of which require low latency connections to support rapid and continuous interactivity."

The ESA, like others challenging the repeal, says net neutrality rules are necessary to prevent Comcast, AT&T, and other broadband providers from censoring sites or discriminating against other companies.

The video game group adds in its court papers that net neutrality is particularly important for online gaming. It writes, "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."

As an intervenor in the case, the ESA can be represented in oral arguments and would file briefs in support of the lawsuit. The ESA will play a similar role as the Internet Association, a lobby group for Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and other Web companies, which also filed a motion to intervene last week.