By Jeremy Julian @faithfulmantis
Restriction is something that can hold us back as a society, especially in this era of data and information. Corporations that get our hard earned money can restrict us from doing things we should be free to do. These restrictions may not affect some, but they can affect specific groups of consumers. In this case, the corporation is Comcast and the victim being restricted is the modern gamer.
In November 2016, Comcast implemented a new program in various states that limits data to only one terabyte per month. A terabyte consists of 1024 gigabytes and that may seem like a lot, but it is a major restriction when it comes to gaming.
The problem with Comcast implementing this data cap is that more people play video games than ever. Most AAA games released today can be from 30 to 50 gigabytes. For the most part, games of the past generation didn’t reach more than 10 gigabytes.
We are also in the era of game patches and updates; an example of one of these would be the Rockstar title “Grand Theft Auto V.” The game is roughly 65 GB, which would be over six percent of a customer’s data limit, for just one game. Downloading just two video games can take more than 10 percent of an individual’s data usage for a month.
Most players aren’t only gaming; they also stream movies and music like many people in our society.
According to their website, Comcast claims that users can watch 600 to 700 hours of HD video per month with the new data cap. According to Netflix, streaming an hour of full definition video can use up to three gigabytes of data, and seven if the video is streamed in 4K resolutions. These numbers may differ for other streaming sites, but Netflix is the app most widely used by far.
Specifically for gamers, streaming is used more often than the average consumer because many watch gaming walkthroughs and tournaments via sites like Twitch and YouTube. This streaming takes up mass amounts of data whether the gamer is broadcasting or watching someone else.
Over the past few years, gaming has been making a stride towards an all-digital future. Physicals sales will one day become a thing of the past and console gamers will be buying their games through digital outlets.
According to Venturebeat, digital video game sales were up by over 20 percent and retail sales were down by 16 percent in the month of December. The trend has been increasing each year as more publishers and consumers push the rise of the digital age of gaming.
There is a plan for unlimited data that Comcast has also implemented, but will be an extra $50 per month. This means it can cost double a consumer’s bill just for an unlimited plan which they already had a few months ago for much cheaper.
Additionally, if a consumer does go over the data limit, Comcast will charge them $10 for every additional 50 gigabytes used, which essentially can mean it can cost a customer an extra $10 just to download a single game that they spent $60 or more on.
The core problem with the data limit is that it restricts the current climate in gaming from growing healthily. Most modern American gamers are Comcast customers and many of them have no choice. Trends show that gaming is moving towards a digital future and Comcast could be holding the transition back by limiting what individuals can download.
I’m not saying that Comcast is “anti-gamer,” and there may be a real reason to data limits, like fighting piracy. But Comcast did not have millions of video game players in mind when they decided to enact this business plan. The data limit is harmful to this growing multi-billion dollar industry and hopefully Comcast realizes it.